Schools encouraged to open up and make the best use of their sports facilities

By GreaterSport | 30 January 2020 | TAGS: Children and young people, Open facilities

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As part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, the Department for Education have invested £1.5m to support schools to open their sports facilities. 19 projects, running until August 2020, will be funded through the Active Partnership Network in order to broaden the offer of extra-curricular and out of school sporting and physical activities available to pupils and the wider community.

The investment aims to create opportunities to share learning and better understand the current landscape, barriers, solutions and success factors for schools in opening their facilities after the school day, at weekends and during the holidays.

Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Director of Children and Young People said:

A significant amount of community sports facilities are found in schools. This new funding will help support schools to open up their facilities beyond the school day so they can be used for as long as possible by young people and the wider community and link schools up with great local activities.

“The 19 Active Partnerships around the country will [be] working with local schools to make it easier, [to] overcome some of the obstacles and share best practice – in what will be a win-win for pupils, community members and local sports clubs.”

GreaterSport will work with a range of schools to better understand the current use of school facilities aiming to give pupils and the community access to sporting facilities that meet local needs. Working with local partners, schools and young people themselves, we will work to identify the community need and what activity provision will best benefit the wellbeing of the people within the local community. By working in this way, we hope to embed physical activity within young people’s daily routines so that even once the school gates are closed for the holidays, young people can continue to be active.

In Greater Manchester, we will be focusing on four boroughs (Manchester, Oldham, Salford, and Tameside) to ensure we can achieve a greater depth of learning to help inform guidance for other boroughs to utilise.

Lauren Whaley, Active Schools Coordinator said:

“This is a great opportunity to work with schools to understand their operating models, successes and barriers linked to facility usage. We hope that by exploring the current landscape, we will be able to support more schools to open their facilities in the future. 39% of all sporting facilities are behind the school gates; sports halls, studios, grass and artificial pitches etc. with many of these ceasing operation at the end of the school day.

Knitting education and the community sector together can be tricky however there are already some great examples of school facility usage which benefit the school, pupils and the local community. This project will help to highlight effective ways of operating from school sites and ensure the assets in the heart communities are available to support and encourage activity in a safe space.”

This project presents the opportunity to further develop young people’s life chances through a more active lifestyle as we know that active children are happier, more resilient and more trusting of others. It will also help to create more active communities, as opportunities are created to meet the needs of local people in their community.

Hayley Lever, Strategic Manager for Greater Manchester Moving said:

GreaterSport aims to change lives through physical activity and sport, contributing to the city region’s vision of “being one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old”. In Greater Manchester seven in ten people are now moving for at least 30 minutes a week, however more needs to be done to enable the whole population to move more. The work to open up school facilities, engage with communities and enable more active lives, will be an exciting next step for children and adults to move more in their local communities.

Minister for Sport, Media and Creative Industries, Nigel Adams, said:

“It is absolutely right that every child, regardless of background, has the chance to learn how to run, jump, throw, and catch to develop a healthy lifestyle. As we outlined last year, our School Sport and Activity Action Plan will mean that all children have access to at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity through quality PE, sport sessions, clubs and facilities inside and outside of school hours.

“By opening up school sports halls and playing fields to sports clubs and the wider community, we will increase opportunities, particularly for those with the least access and from the most deprived areas and deliver on our manifesto commitment.”

Any schools with experiences of, or interest in, opening their facilities, please contact Lauren Whaley for more information; Lauren@greatersport.co.uk.

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