Government urged to clarify lockdown school sport guidance

The Youth Sport Trust says schools should be encouraged and supported to provide after-school sport and warns new guidelines risk causing confusion.

Government has today published new guidance for schools on the provision of Physical Education and sport during the national lockdown starting on 5 November.

The guidance can be read in full here.

It states that Physical Education and school sport should continue and reinforces the importance of young people staying active and meeting the Chief Medical Officer's recommended 60 active minutes every day.

The Youth Sport Trust is asking government for further clarity on the guidelines around extra-curricular school sport.

Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver MBE said:

Government’s latest guidance has rightly confirmed that Physical Education can, and should, still go ahead during the lockdown. However the new guidelines around extra-curricular sport are hugely confusing and counterproductive.

Children will be deprived of sport outside of school during this lockdown. They should not be deprived of extra-curricular sport within school too. Sadly many school leaders will interpret from this new guidance that they should be cutting back sport provision after school hours unless it is for childcare purposes.

We are urging government to clarify what is being encouraged, particularly given that after-school sport would be provided under the same conditions as PE.

Restrictions on competitive sport between different schools are understandable. But young people should not be deprived of after-school sport where they get to be active, and benefit physically, socially and emotionally. This can be done while still maintaining the integrity of ‘bubbles’ and social distancing, and schools have shown in recent weeks that they are able to manage these activities safely.

To mitigate the damage to young people’s wellbeing, it is absolutely essential that school leaders are permitted, supported and encouraged to prioritise PE and school sport. We know from our research that some have cut back sport and PE since September and we cannot sit by and watch this happen again.

Schools may face further difficulties where they are reliant on local leisure centres and facilities which may take the decision to close completely during the lockdown. This further reinforces the need for government to clarify this guidance and make it easier for schools to fulfil their important duty to keep young people active and healthy during the weeks ahead.

Published on 4 November 2020