Through our SEND Inclusion projects and programmes we work to increase and improve opportunities for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to engage and participate in physical education and school.

Spearheaded by the Inclusion 2024 programme, we are working collaboratively with pupils, schools, expert practitioners and local / national partners to drive quality and accessibility of opportunities for SEND pupils to participate, engage and learn through PE and School Sport (PESS).

This work is delivered through a network Lead Inclusion Schools across England who are recognised for their expertise in engaging young people with SEND to participate, compete and lead through PE, physical activity, and school sport.

Lead Inclusion Schools act as champions in their local area - as well as staging events, they are responsible for training staff and sharing best practice with other schools to improve the provision of PE, school sport and physical activity for young people with SEND.

Evidence of Need

We know that a positive experience in PE and school sport is essential to shape every child’s life-long participation. It can alter how we feel about being active for the rest of our lives. Data suggests not all young disabled people (often referred to in education settings as Special Educational Needs or Disabilities - SEND) are fully included in PE.

  • Disabled children’s activity levels decrease significantly, as they get older. Activity levels for disabled and non-disabled children are similar when they first start school (KS1 - 83% during term-time compared to 84%). By age 11, disabled children are less likely to be 'active' or 'fairly active' (KS2 - 77% vs 85%). The gap widens more significantly by the time they are 16 (KS4 - 52% vs 72%).
  • Disabled children are twice as likely to be lonely compared to their non-disabled peers (72% vs 36%). They are more likely to feel they have no one to talk to, feel left out, and to feel alone.
  • Disabled children are motivated to take part in sport and physical activity to feel a sense of belonging and be more independent.

Did you know?

Only a quarter of disabled children say they take part in sport and activity all of the time at school, compared to 41% of non-disabled children.
1 in 3
disabled children take part in less than 30 minutes of sport and physical activity per day during term-time (30% vs 21% of non-disabled children)
of parents of disabled children say their child’s level of physical activity is important to them. Yet, less than half of parents with disabled children feel they have enough support to help their child to be active.

Source: Activity Alliance - My Active Future: Including every child (March 2020)

Impact to Date

Through the Inclusion 2024 programme PE and school sport experiences have rapidly improved for disabled children. Young people have been taking part in more inclusive and accessible PE lessons, school swimming, para sports as part of fun festivals, and learning key life and leadership skills.  

The programme has brought about change by building support systems, working with a range a stakeholders and empowering an expert network of schools which have a wealth of insights and experiences in making PE and sport inclusive to help other schools around the country. 

For young disabled people, the Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation is for a minimum of 20 minutes of physical activity every day. Over the last two years, the programme has helped to increase the number of disabled children achieving 20 minutes of high-quality PE and sport a day in schools and ensuring that those active minutes are tailored to them.

To date, Inclusion 2024 has seen:

  • Over a third (38.5%) of schools report an increase in the proportion of children with SEND achieving 60 active minutes (more than the recommend 20 minutes a day for young people with a disability by the Chief Medical Officer) since having contact with Inclusion 2024. Two-thirds (67%) are achieving 30 minutes of activity a day  
  • 1,417 young people (38% with SEND) trained on a youth leadership pathway giving them skills to lead inclusive sport and activity sessions
  • 14,616 young people (82% with SEND) given the opportunity to try para sports like basketball and curling as well as experience a Paralympic or Commonwealth Games inspired festival
  • 6,411 young people with SEND started on their learn to swim journey and equipped them with key water safety advice. 49,816 young people in total have received lifesaving skills
  • 28,205 employees in the school workforce supported with continuing professional development to ensure sport and Physical Education is inclusive for every child (since 2022). 5,821 schools have received inclusive PE training.

Read the full year two evaluation here and the year one evaluation here.

The Inclusion 2024 consortium consists of Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, NASEN (National Association for Special Educational Needs), Youth Sport Trust and Swim England. Young people and parents also sit on the group.

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If you would like to find out more about SEND Inclusion then get in touch with us today.

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