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This conference brought school leaders, stakeholders and officials together to examine priorities for PE and sports provision for children and young people.
It followed the recent government announcement of a package of measures aiming to promote equal opportunities in school sport, both inside and outside the classroom, which includes:
- a request for schools to provide a minimum of two hours of curriculum PE time per week
- expansion of the Schools Games Mark, which rewards parity of provision for girls
- a funding commitment over the next two years of £600m for the PE and Sport Premium
- £57m for the Opening School Facilities programme
- a commitment to publish a refreshed School Sport Action Plan
The conference also took place in light of the recent Public Accounts Committee inquiry into grassroots sport, which found a lack of progress on access and inequalities, and that the 2012 Olympics had little impact on participation, recommending a more joined-up and evaluative approach from both Sport England and the DCMS.
It was an opportunity to consider what is needed from current policy, strategy and funding to improve participation and activity rates. Attendees examined how funding can be better aligned to local needs, the priorities for inter-agency coordination, and the role of schools in the development of a more holistic approach to provision.
Delegates assessed strategies for raising the standards of sport and PE provision in schools, and what is needed from curricula, assessment and facilities to improve quality and accessibility, including how schools can be supported to provide two hours or more of curriculum PE time.
There was also discussion on notable post-pandemic trends, parity of provision between girls and boys, and priorities for outreach in schools and the wider community, including encouraging participation in hard-to-reach groups, and tailoring engagement to fit local context and needs.
Overall, sessions in the agenda included discussion on:
- PE and sports provision in schools:
- improving curriculum integration - appropriate assessment methods - ensuring quality and standards - implementing a minimum curriculum time for PE
- how funding is used by schools - the role of the Primary PE and Sport Premium
- assessing funding and provision of sporting facilities
- enhancing pupil engagement: tackling barriers to participation for children with SEND and vulnerable groups - priorities for reaching marginalised groups - parity of provision between girls and boys
- maximising health and wellbeing: driving long-term changes in behaviour and lifestyle - evaluating the relationship between PE and development - combatting childhood obesity
- post-16 education sport provision: assessing further education and training routes - pathways for career progression - harnessing opportunities for scholarship programmes