Black Country schools to deliver extra-curricular sport

Funding announced to help children return to sport and activity.

Sport England will Invest £10.1 million from the government to help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays so that more children and young people have the opportunity to be active.

The new funding, from the Department for Education, is in addition to an original £1.5 million awarded as part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan in July 2019 to encourage schools to start opening up their facilities.

Within the Black Country, Sport England will work with the Active Black Country Partnership – who have a specific focus on getting people involved in sport and physical activity – to distribute the funding.

This investment comes at an important time given the impact COVID-19 has had on the activity levels of children and young people and given the significant decline in the number of schools offering after-school clubs for pupils as well as opening their facilities for community use.

This new funding will help Active Black Country to support local schools to understand the challenges in opening their facilities in a COVID secure manner and could include helping them to buy new equipment for sports and activities, as well as arranging additional cleaning and clear signage to help maintain social distancing.

Ian Carey, Director of Active Black Country said: “We are delighted to see this investment into the Black Country to support education facilities open their doors and increase community use. Schools are vital anchors in our local communities and have done an amazing job in very difficult circumstances over the past twelve months. Many schools have facilities that are vital to helping get and keep people active and play sport.

“Active Black Country Board and the Black Country Local Authorities strong commitment over the past 2 years to work with schools and other education agencies to open their facilities outside of the school day will provide a strong basis to utilise this funding. We look forward to working with Dudley MBC, Sandwell MBC, Walsall MBC, City of Wolverhampton Council, Education and Community partners alongside Sport England and UK Active”.

A recent survey undertaken in December 2020 by EVERFI EdComms on behalf of Sport England, highlighted that of the schools surveyed, 91% would open for community use when there were no restrictions. This funding will be important to help schools re-open their facilities for local sports clubs as only 52% were able to do so during the past year as restrictions allowed.

Sport England’s recent Active Lives Children and Young People survey also showed that nationally, the number of children who met the government’s guidance for an hour of activity a day dropped by more than 100,000 in the summer of 2020 compared to 2019.

The Black Country is no different. Covid-19 has had a negative impact on the activity rates of Black Country pupils, with 35.2% doing less than 30 daily minutes of activity (up from 34.1% last year).

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England said: “We are delighted with this additional support to help children and young people return to sport and activity when it is safe to do so.

“Schools play a vital role in keeping young people active and the pandemic has had a huge impact on their ability to open up their facilities. With this new investment, Active Partnerships will provide support and funding for their local schools so they can open after school and during the school holidays, providing more sports clubs and activity facilities to children and the wider community.”