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
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.”
‘SPORT IS VITAL’: Tony Molesworth
Councillor Mike Appleyard