The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed the government’s commitment to providing £320 million of funding for PE during the 2020/21 academic year, after calls from a number of high profile figures.
The move forms part of the government’s plans to lead the ‘Covid fightback’ by placing an emphasis on physical fitness.
The news comes after a group of athletes including Mo Farah, Hannah Cockroft and Lawrence Dallaglio wrote to the government to ask for funding to be guaranteed for the next academic year, and was backed by a number of organisations, such as the Youth Sport Trust, ukactive and Sport England.
“During these challenging times, it has become clearer to me than ever the importance of keeping active and how it benefits not just our physical health but also our ability to pay attention, our mood and our mental health too,” said Gavin Williamson.
“Every family will have had a different experience of the pandemic, and I know that many children will have missed time spent outdoors with their friends – that’s why it’s so important that ahead of a full return to school in September, schools get the certainty they need to prepare their PE and sports activities for next year.”
The government has also confirmed that any unused ‘Premium’ funding for the 2019/20 academic year which were not used due to the closing of schools during lockdown can be carried over to next year.
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England said in response to the decision: “We welcome the confirmation of the investment into primary schools for PE, school sport, activity and play.
“It’s never been more needed given the massive disruption to children’s activity levels during lockdown with our research showing that the number of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines has dropped from almost 47% to 19%. Over a third of children say they’ve had less chance to be active because schools are shut.
“When schools return this welcomed investment will play an important part in encouraging schools to prioritise PE and getting children active - which is important not just for their physical health but because being active builds mental resilience and helps children achieve academically.”
The government has confirmed that the allocation of funds will be determined by a formula based on pupil numbers, saying the average single form-entry primary school will receive roughly £18,000 per year.