Since 2013 the Primary PE and School Sport Premium has played an important role in making school sport better.
Worth £150 per student, the premium collectively sees £160 million annually invested in schools across England, improving not only the quality of PE and school sport, but also broadening the range of sports on offer.
In Budget 2016, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for a new sugar tax, which the government anticipants could generate enough money to double the premium from September 2017.
Working with government
Sport England is working with government to help make sure this extra money will make a difference and gets more children more active, fitter and healthier. Ahead of this budget increase, it’s never been a better time for schools to examine how the premium is working for them and identify areas for improvement.
As no two schools are the same, the core strength of the premium is that head teachers decide how the money is spent based on their individual needs. Some schools choose to extend after-school opportunities or buy new equipment and invest in facilities.
Some are even joining forces - extending local and regional sports competitions, sharing sports coaches and introducing both traditional and new sports to their pupils, with football and cricket now sitting alongside Zumba, gymnastics and rock climbing.
Sturton Church of England Primary School in north Nottinghamshire chose to invest part of its funding to create a 5k race open to the whole community. This initiative led to the formation of a running club, which now includes more than 30 per cent of the school’s pupils.
The event has become a fixture in the community calendar, with race fees in subsequent years being reinvested in creating more sports facilities for the school.
In St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School in Smethwick, West Midlands, a pupil survey showed a great appetite for street dance among both boys and girls.
Premium funding was used to employ a specialist dance coach initially for a group of children specifically interested. However, the activity has now become so popular that it’s available throughout the school, with adapted teaching for those with special educational needs.
The school hosts PE coffee mornings for parents to learn more about how they can help their children’s fitness, while a healthy lunch habits campaign was recently launched in the school to dovetail with its renewed health focus.
It’s little wonder that a new Department for Education report found 95 per cent of schools said the premium has had a positive impact on physical fitness of students, as well as improving the skills and behaviour of pupils. Nearly 90 per cent also found the quality of PE teaching has increased since the premium was introduced.
Better yet, among those schools doing less than the recommended level of two hours of PE per week, the curriculum time devoted to the subject has increased by over 40 per cent since the premium was introduced.
Ensuring children become active and stay active is a goal held by many agencies in the sport sector. That’s why Sport England has joined with the Youth Sport Trust, the Department for Education, Sports Coach UK, the Association for Physical Education, County Sports Partnership Network and UKactive Kids to help schools make the right choices when spending their premium.
Together, they have created a one-stop shop online toolkit offering handy advice to head teachers, PE leads, coaches and coach deployers.
Habit of being active
When done correctly, school sport can help children, whatever their ability, develop a long-lasting love of sport and a habit of being active. Conversely, a bad experience can put children off, making it challenging for them to re-engage later in life.
Published studies show the positive effects of sport on education, including improved attainment, with memory, attention and concentration all improving with more activity.
Lower absenteeism and dropout rates are also recorded for active pupils and increased progression to higher education. For instance, young people’s participation in sport improves their numeracy scores by eight per cent on average above non-participants.
Moreover, a 2014 Public Health England report found that the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity students engaged with at 11 years of age had an effect on academic performance across English, maths and science, including final GCSE exam results, with active students found to achieve up to 20 per cent higher results than non-active ones.
Other studies have found that sport programmes aimed at youths at risk of criminal behaviour can enhance self-esteem and reduce reoffending.
While the benefits of being active are clear, often the route to improving sport isn’t. A 2011 report before the premium was introduced found only 20 per cent of teachers rated PE in their top three subjects, while 50 per cent listed it as their worst.
Thus in order for the premium to deliver real and lasting results, it’s important a focus is placed on sustainability, whereby the addition of new coaches do not displace teachers, but complement them, ensuring teachers feel confident and capable in any new initiative.
Funding must be used to improve existing provision - not simply maintaining the status quo, but driving up quality and encouraging more children to take part. Clearly, when using the premium correctly it can yield fantastic results, but it’s important that in the first instance a school reviews its current sport facilities before deciding on where to invest it.
Choosing the right coach
Coaches should only be employed through the premium funding when a need has been identified by the school’s PE and school sport review. Choosing the right coach can be tricky - the School Premium online tool offers help on how to recruit coaches, and what to look for.
There are also some excellent examples of schools using the premium well. For example, using the funding to work with specialist sports coaches, making sure the coach works alongside existing teachers, increasing their specialist knowledge, skills and confidence and ensuring the impact lasts long after the coach has left.
It’s important to realise the long-term ambition and professional development that will benefit future year groups, as well as current pupils.
Top 10 considerations
1. Who is reviewing the school’s PE provision and what areas for development have they identified?
2. Has the school got (or should it consider) a designated subject leader for PE? What is their role in deciding how the premium should be spent?
3. What specific outcomes does the school aim to achieve with the premium?
4. How is the premium being used to enhance, rather than maintain, existing provision?
5. How will these improvements be sustainable in the long term? What will the impact of the changes the school is making now be on pupils arriving at the school in five to 10 years’ time?
6. Does the school website include a breakdown of how the premium is being spent and a report on its impact on pupils?
7. Have the new grant conditions and guidance been considered when planning how to spend the funding?
8. Have staff accessed resources (from gov.uk or other sources) to support effective use of the premium?
9. Where external specialist coaches are being used in curriculum time, are they working alongside class teachers to improve their skills and securing long-term impact? (Coaches should not be used to deliver PE as part of planning, preparation and assessment arrangements.)
10. Where external providers are being used either in PE lessons or extra-curricular activities, how is the school assessing the quality and impact of their delivery?
For more information and to download free posters visit http://www.sportengland.org/our-work/children-and-young-people/primary-school-sport/
Photo credit: Sport England.