Time to Unlock Potential

by Phil Chamberlain, External Relations Director, Youth Sport Trust

This week, we celebrated manifesto commitments from the two largest political parties to provide young people with a minimum two hours of physical activity per week.

In their proposals for governing, both the Conservatives and Labour recognised the ‘ask’ made by the Youth Sport Trust as a part of our own manifesto, Unlocking Potential, for more time for higher quality PE and school sport.

Such cross-party support means that whatever the outcome of the General Election, one of the parties forming the next Government will ensure our young people are given greater opportunities to improve their physical health, emotional wellbeing and self esteem. Cross-party commitment of this kind is no doubt thanks to those MPs who became School Sport Champions and agreed to help secure these pledges, as well as the broad, ongoing support our manifesto has  received from a range of education, health and sporting organisations.

Thanks to these commitments, there is a real prospect over the next five years for schools across the country to be able to realise high quality PE and school sport provision for all – helping raise aspirations, reduce health inequalities and dispel negative attitudes towards diversity.

In addition to these pledges both parties have developed forward-thinking approaches to tackling health inequalities. By taking an integrated approach to physical, mental and social care and identifying sport’s benefit to health and wellbeing, both parties have responded to the Youth Sport Trust’s ask for improving the physical health and wellbeing of all pupils.

As we have made clear throughout our 20-year history, ensuring physical literacy in the curriculum will make our school children competent, confident and healthy movers from an early stage. It will build their motivation and confidence, providing them with better communication and social skills for leading and working in groups.  PE, particularly inclusive PE, can only begin to unlock potential if it is taught by teachers who have been allowed to develop their understanding with specialist training. Equipping teachers with the skills and confidence to help children develop fundamental movement skills is the first step towards achieving these goals.

However, a commitment to organised sport alone will not engage the least active. Targeted intervention, offering a range of physical activity formats for all ages, which are tailored for engaging and retaining young people, is necessary to address gaps in health across society.

With resources stretched across the public sector the next government’s job of funding PE and school sport needs to not only protect budgets, but must make them sufficiently robust to allow for better initial teacher training.

We are pleased that the key policy makers have listened to our ‘asks’ and have made clear manifesto commitments. Whatever the future Government, these commitments must now be turned into reality. 

To support our manifesto asks or become a School Sport Champion please click here