Damian Hinds – 2019 Statement on School Sport and Activity

Below is the text of the statement made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, in the House of Commons on 15 July 2019.

A positive experience of sport and physical activity at a young age can build a lifetime habit of participation. It is central to meeting the Government’s ambitions for a world-class education system which promotes character, good physical health and mental wellbeing. We face a significant challenge to increase and maintain activity levels among children and young people, particularly ​given the levels of childhood obesity. Data from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People survey show that a third of children are currently doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day, less than half the amount recommended by the Chief Medical Officer.

The Department for Education, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Department of Health and Social Care are today publishing a joint school sport and activity action plan which will set out the following ambitions:

All children and young people take part in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

All children and young people have the opportunity to realise developmental, character- building experiences through sport, competition and active pursuits.

All sport and physical activity provision for children and young people is designed around building basic skills as well as confidence, enjoyment, knowledge and understanding (known as physical literacy) with a focus on fun and enjoyment, and reaching the least active young people.

The action plan will set out a number of immediate actions that feed into realising these ambitions, including a strong commitment to joint working between schools and the sport sector. The plan also sets out areas of activity for the future with action to be confirmed in a further updated plan later in the year, following the spending review.

The immediate actions include a commitment to an additional £2.5 million from the Department for Education in 2019-20 to support schools through further work on teacher training, more help and advice to enable schools to open up their facilities and make links with providers, as well as providing more opportunities for young people to volunteer in sport. The plan also sets out over £4 million of Sport England investment in new after-school clubs, strengthening the school games competition and building girls’ confidence through a programme linked to ‘This Girl Can’.

The Government are also committing to develop regional pilots to trial new and innovative approaches to getting young people active, jointly funded by Sport England and the Department for Education from 2020. The pilots will involve collaborative working from the school and community sector to offer a co-ordinated sport and physical activity experience for young people.

We will be working with sporting organisations like the Youth Sport Trust, RFU, England Netball and the Premier League to ensure that sports clubs and programmes can reach even more children, encouraging them to get active by focusing on fun, enjoyment and increasing confidence.