In July 2017 it was announced by Justine Greene (the Education Secretary), that the Sports Premium funding for schools would be doubled for the academic year 2017 – 18. Schools are now entitled to receive £16,000 plus £10 per pupil (in schools where there are 17 pupils or more) in order to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality and effectiveness of PE and sports in schools.
This funding has been available to schools since 2013, but Ofsted are now much more interested in the impact of this funding and, therefore, schools must ensure, and provide evidence, that they are using the Sports Premium in the most effective ways.
Previously, too many schools were using the funding to provide the minimum PE sessions required (including swimming) or to provide PE teaching during PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) sessions. The DfE has cracked down on this practice and has made it clear that this is not an appropriate use of the Sports Premium.
Effective Ways To Use Sports Premium
There are clear guidelines on how schools may use their Sports Premium, and two areas that schools can effectively use their funding to ensure the greatest impact are through:
- Developing or adding to the PE and sports activities provided by the school;
- Embedding physical activity into the school day through an active playground.
(DfE PE and Sports Premium for Schools, Oct 17)
Children spend over an hour each day on the playground, and this has previously been one of the more neglected times of the school day. However, schools are now becoming much more aware of the need to use their playgrounds to increase children’s activity levels, introduce incidental learning, enhance playtimes and to also decrease incidents of poor behaviour during this unstructured time.
Playgrounds have traditionally been areas which have the least development in schools, and are often merely large open spaces with little to enhance children’s play or activity levels. This is now an area that Ofsted are looking carefully at, and on visits will spend more of their time outside at playtimes to make a judgement on how schools are improving children’s play, activity levels and social skills. They are looking not only considering the health, safety and behaviour of pupils, but also at how the school uses play times effectively, how it play times help increase children’s activity levels through incidental play.
Developing An Active Playground
The Sports Premium funding is a great opportunity to overhaul the playground and outdoor environment. With an effective and thoughtful overhaul, you can not only increase children’s physical activity, but give them opportunities for talk, incidental learning and encourage teachers to spend more time outdoors.
The introduction of playground markings will encourage co-operative play and learning opportunities, a range of high and low rise trim trails can test and increase children’s gross and fine motor skills, and the introduction of outdoor gym equipment will not only enhance play times but will enable teachers to teach PE lessons effectively on the playground without the lesson having to be a team sport.
Increase The Impact And Amount Of Outdoor Activity
In general, outdoor PE sessions are one area of the curriculum that is the least well taught. Teachers have less training in teaching PE, and this is an area that Ofsted are keen to see increase. By adding a daily mile track or sprint tracks to the outdoor environment, teachers can quickly and easily teach running, thereby increasing the amount of time they give to physical activity.
All teachers are aware that children work and learn better once they have had some exercise. In taking the class out for a daily run in the middle of the school day, teachers will see that their classes are much more focused, low level disruption will decrease and the children’s learning will increase.
A common complaint amongst teachers is that, with the UK weather, it can be very hit and miss as to whether they feel it is safe to take children outside in poor conditions. Playgrounds become slippy very quickly, and grass is often too boggy and muddy to be used during the winter months, therefore outdoor activity sessions suffer. However, with the Sports Premium funding, schools can consider installing a slip resistance multi use games area.
Sustainability For The Future
Sustainability for the future is one of the most important ones which has only recently been introduced. Ofsted are looking to ensure that the money is spent in such a way that the fitness and activity levels of all children, both present and in the future, will continue to increase. There is absolutely no guarantee that the Sports Premium funding will be forthcoming over the next academic year, and the DfE have made it clear that the funding must be used for future generations as well as current pupils.
In the past, PE co-ordinators have felt that they have had to spend the whole funding during the current academic year in order to demonstrate impact for the children in the school at the time. This led to schools choosing to increase after school club opportunities, introduce short term PE coaches or buying equipment which would only be appropriate for a year or two.
With the new expectation of demonstrating sustainability for the future, it is more important than ever that schools and PE subject leaders ensure that they think long term about the use of the funding. The DfE have made it clear that spending the funding on longer term projects, such as improving the outdoor area, is a much more appropriate use of it than more short term projects.
The Sports Premium funding gives schools an opportunity to really develop and enhance children’s PE and sports experiences, to increase children’s activity levels and to help combat childhood obesity. It is so important that Primary Schools take this responsibility seriously, and do all they can to ensure that the children leave in Year 6, fit, healthy and with a positive outlook on sports!
Demonstrating Impact Through Use Of Sports Premium
No matter how you decide to spend your Sports Premium funding, be it with new and updated trails, an increase in playground markings or the introduction of a more appropriate outdoor surface, the key is to ensure that you demonstrate the impact across your school. Ofsted will be looking for schools to publish their use of the funding on their websites, and will be making random checks on schools after April 2018.
Schools will receive their funding in October 2017 and April 2018, so, in order to demonstrate impact for this year, you need to plan now what you will be spending the funding on! Schools have until April 2018 to have their use of this year’s funding on their websites.
Schools MUST detail how much premium they received, a full breakdown of how it has been (or how it will be) spent, the impact on pupils PE and sports participation, and ultimately how these improvements will be sustainable for the future.
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