In July 2019, the Department for Education, Department for Culture Media and Sport, and Department for Health and Social Care published the School Sport and Activity Action Plan (the Action Plan). This Action Plan was a joint commitment to ongoing collaboration at a national level to ensure that sport and physical activity are an integral part of both the school day and after-school activities, and to increase access and opportunities for pupils with respect to school sport and high-quality PE lessons.
The Action Plan identified several priorities, one of which included £1.6 million for a pilot project across 19 Active Partnerships, including GreaterSport, to help schools open their facilities after the school day, at weekends and during school holidays. It aimed to improve the understanding of the current landscape as well as the barriers, solutions and success factors linked to school facility usage.
The initial pilot (phase one) in Greater Manchester began in January 2020 and was focused in four boroughs. The learning would then be shared to support schools across Greater Manchester to offer more, and more varied, opportunities for pupils and the wider community to be active.
In February 2021, Sport England announced that Active Partnerships would be able to build on this work with a further £10.1 million investment from the Department for Education. The funding will support Active Partnerships to encourage and support more schools to open their facilities for after-school, evening, weekend and holiday use.
GreaterSport will be delivering the project (phase 2) across Greater Manchester through an expression of interest form for any primary, secondary or specialist schools and also by working with local partners in each borough to identify which schools and communities will most benefit. For both the open expression of interests and strategic projects local intelligence and relevant datasets will be used to identify areas of need.
Sport England's Use Our School resource can support schools to open their facilities to the community. It provides a detailed overview of the ways you can open your facilities and the help that’s available. This includes guidance and resources relating to overcoming barriers, open facilities in practice, tips from those already going through the process, the case for community use and the legal and financial implications.
Reading the Use Our School resource will help you get started with opening your facilities. Once you have read this, you can then review our application guidance and FAQs to help you complete your expression of interest.
Opening your school’s facilities at evenings and weekends can benefit your community's local sports clubs, and it can also benefit your school directly in a number of ways by:
The work is also part of a national drive to encourage young people to take part in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day; currently just 39.9% of young people in Greater Manchester are achieving this.
The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, highlighted the importance of this work in the current climate in the context of Covid-19; "Working with Sport England and a nationwide network of Active Partnerships, funding will be targeted at the areas and schools who need it most. It will mean facilities can stay open outside of school hours for more activities, help them remain Covid-secure and improve access to equipment for pupils with disabilities."