Primary school children have been amongst the most affected by restrictions and lockdowns, losing opportunities to socialise, learn and exercise amongst their peers.
Now the future of the Primary PE and Sports Premium grant has been called into question by an answer deemed “non-committal” by headteachers.
In response to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Barry Gardner, Schools Minister, Nick Gibb would not confirm that the grant would be offered as a pathway to helping children catch up with skills lost during lockdowns.
Mr Gibb would only say that the DfE was “considering arrangements” for the grant and would “confirm the position as soon as possible”.
The £320 million grant is worth an average of £18,000 per school and has helped primary schools support teachers with administering PE, as well as providing for broader external PE provisions.
For activities providers and schools, a lack of direction as to the future of the grant makes it very difficult to make plans for the upcoming academic year.
A spokesperson for the Youth Sport Trust said today that the cash had “supported thousands of primary schools to deliver high-quality physical education and develop teachers’ confidence beyond their initial teacher training since it was launched.”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson who extended the grant, cited the need to keep children active because it “benefits not just our physical health but also our ability to pay attention, our mood and our mental health, too.”
Much of this, was in response to the decline in outdoor activity due to restrictions, yet much of this situation has not changed. Funding specialist Julia Harnden, at the Association of School and College Leaders has stressed that:
“After a year of educational disruption caused by the pandemic, in which PE and sport in primary schools has been decimated, the very least the government could do is provide teachers with the certainty that funding they have become accustomed to receiving, is in place.”
In response the Department for Education has added that they are committed to the School Sport and Activity Action Plan.
The plan is designed to support the continuation of children’s physical activity by investing £10.1 million into helping existing school sports and swimming facilities continue as national restrictions ease.
In addition, all unspent PE and Sport Premium will be carried forward for use until the end of 2020-21 with further updates still to be made.
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