SPORT­ING CHANCE FOR PUPILS

The gov­ern­ment has in­jected £1.6mil­lion into sport in Bucks pri­mary schools. LAURA MOWAT, CAMILLA GOOD­MAN, JO-ANNE ROWNEY and LOR­CAN LOVETT find out where the money is go­ing and how our schools will hope­fully pro­duce the Olympic stars of the fu­ture

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

CHIL­DREN in pri­mary schools will get more op­por­tu­ni­ties to play sport thanks to a ma­jor in­jec­tion of gov­ern­ment cash.

The Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion (DfE) has in­vested £24mil­lion in sport for pri­mary schools in the south east spread over three years.

The money comes from the depart­ment’s pot for PE and Sports Pre­mium and a typ­i­cal pri­mary with 250 pupils will re­ceive £9,000.

Head­teach­ers can use the money to buy new equip­ment and of­fer a wider se­lec­tion of sports and free after-school clubs.

Ac­cord­ing to the DfE, the majority of schools have im­proved the qual­ity of PE lessons as a re­sult of the fund­ing and more than 90 per cent have re­ported im­prove­ments in chil­dren’s health, be­hav­iour and life­style.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter for chil­dren and fam­i­lies, Ed­ward Timp­son, pri­mary schools are de­liv­er­ing bet­ter qual­ity lessons as a re­sult of the ex­tra money, and de­vot­ing more time to PE.

Schools have to publish on their web­site what they spend the money on.

Chiltern Har­ri­ers Ath­letic Club mem­bers work with sev­eral schools in the county, with vol­un­teers train­ing about 250 chil­dren.

Club sec­re­tary and race di­rec­tor of the up­com­ing Her­bert’s Hole, which takes place in Lown­des Park on Sun­day, Tony Molesworth, thinks the in­vest­ment in sports equip­ment is great news.

He said: “I think this very much is a good thing. There’s a lot of in­ter­est grow­ing in sport which has fol­lowed on from the [London 2012 Olympics] Games, so any support in this di­rec­tion is tremen­dous.

“If chil­dren start sport young it’ll stick with them right through life, it’s a very pos­i­tive move.

“I think chil­dren do­ing sport at school is ab­so­lutely vi­tal in this day and age be­cause of the prob­lem of obe­sity and chil­dren choos­ing to sit in front of com­put­ers, so schools of­fer­ing fit­ness and a healthy life­style is vi­tal.

“You need to start chil­dren do­ing sport young so it be­comes a part of their life, oth­er­wise it slips them by and they may not have another op­por­tu­nity.”

Mr Molesworth would like to see some of the cash spent on build­ing an ath­let­ics track in Chiltern.

He added: “Our par­tic­u­lar con­cern is that there’s not a run­ning fa­cil­ity or track in Chiltern, the clos­est ones we train at are in Wat­ford, Hemel Hemp­stead and High Wy­combe.

“It’d be tremen­dous to have a track fa­cil­ity in the com­mu­nity, not only for our club but for schools as well. I think it would prob­a­bly have to be built at a school any­way so that it can be prop­erly looked after.”

Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil cab­i­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion and skills, Mike Ap­p­le­yard, said: “It’s not sur­pris­ing that chil­dren who en­joy and take part in sport gen­er­ally do well in school and as adults.

“This fund­ing is a wel­come boost for pri­mary schools across Bucks as it will give chil­dren an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore fun ways to get ac­tive and par­tic­i­pate in sport.

“It is great to see ini­tia­tives that help to give re­ally young chil­dren the chance to take part in sport.

“This lat­est fund­ing for pri­mary schools sounds fan­tas­tic – now whether in a town or small ru­ral

com­mu­nity, young kids will be in­tro­duced to fun ways to be ac­tive that will spark an in­ter­est in tak­ing part in sport as they grow up.”

WHY IS THIS IM­POR­TANT AND WHAT IS AL­READY BE­ING DONE?

The county is al­ready work­ing to im­prove sport in schools with a scheme to help chil­dren de­velop phys­i­cal skills.

The plan is to in­tro­duce a new teach­ing pack­age to help pri­mary schools in­cor­po­rate more ac­tiv­ity into the school day.

Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil has com­mis­sioned Leap, the county sport and ac­tiv­ity part­ner­ship for Buck­ing­hamshire and Mil­ton Keynes, to set up a new re­source to aid schools with ‘phys­i­cal lit­er­acy’, help­ing young peo­ple learn the fun­da­men­tals of run­ning, throw­ing and kick­ing.

The aim is to pro­vide a con­sis­tent cur­ricu­lum to de­velop mo­tor skills and ba­sic move­ment.

It should also im­prove the con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence of chil­dren aged three to seven and make them bet­ter able to lead a more phys­i­cally ac­tive life­style, says the coun­cil’s pub­lic health team.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for health and well­be­ing Pa­tri­cia Birch­ley said: “We know that the amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the early years and child­hood is a strong in­di­ca­tor of fu­ture be­hav­iours in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, health and hap­pi­ness.

“We also know that gen­er­ally ac­tive chil­dren be­come ac­tive adults and that seden­tary be­hav­iour can lead to an in­crease in phys­i­cal, so­cial and emo­tional health con­cerns.”

The project, funded by the coun­cil’s pub­lic health team fol­low­ing na­tional guide­lines high­light­ing the im­por­tance of phys­i­cal lit­er­acy, ini­tially fo­cuses on train­ing staff from 50 set­tings across Buck­ing­hamshire – 25 this aca­demic year and 25 in 2015/16.

Di­rec­tor of Leap Mark Ormerod said: “As a par­ent of two young chil­dren in this age group, I firmly be­lieve that learn­ing to move well is just as im­por­tant as learn­ing to read and write.”

The Pub­lic Health Eng­land Every­body Ac­tive, Ev­ery Day re­port pub­lished re­cently showed only 21 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls na­tion­ally do the rec­om­mended amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

Mr Omerod said: “I be­lieve that this ap­proach has the po­ten­tial to make a huge dif­fer­ence to this pic­ture both here in Bucks and beyond.”

Con­trib­uted

‘SPORT IS VI­TAL’: Tony Molesworth

File

Coun­cil­lor Mike Ap­p­le­yard

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