Active Partnerships to support schools to open their facilities and support return to sport and activity
Posted: Mon, 08 Feb 2021 12:17
The Department for Education has announced an investment of £10.1 million of funding to enable schools to open their sports facilities outside of school hours, to be distributed through Active Partnerships working with Sport England.
This investment comes at an important time given the impact COVID-19 has had on the activity levels of children and young people and given the significant decline in the number of schools offering after-school clubs for pupils as well as opening their facilities for community use. The funding will help schools deliver extra -curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays so that more children and young people have the opportunity to be active.
Active Suffolk were proud to be one of the 23 Active Partnerships that worked on the Opening Schools Facilities project across the country between September 2019 - December 2020. This project focussed on understanding the barriers and challenges schools face when opening their facilities for community use, as well as where schools have been successful in their approach, however Active Partnerships Chief Executive Lee Mason commented that the new funding will build on this work to address to the long standing desire to enhance the use of the valuable sporting facilities on school sites. He said:
"As a test and learn project, we have built our knowledge and understanding on the drivers and barriers schools experience when opening their doors for community use. Inevitably COVID-19 has exacerbated the barriers and led to a significant decline in the number of schools offering after-school clubs for pupils as well as opening their facilities for community use, contributing to the decline in the activity levels of children and young people.
We therefore welcome this investment which comes at an important time as we look forward to schools reopening and finding ways to help young people and the wider community rebuild their sport and physical activity habits. The funding alongside the support from Active Partnerships will enhance extra-curricular provision, help those schools who previously made their facilities available for community use to re-open them, and encourage more schools to do the same.
Our learning shows that increasingly schools do want to open their facilities as a way to strengthen their links to the local community. As a result, there is a timely and significant opportunity for schools to position themselves at the heart of local recovery plans from Covid by providing a safe, trusted and accessible space for their pupils and wider community to be more active and help re-build their physical and mental wellbeing"
This funding will help Active Partnerships to support their local schools to understand the challenges in opening their facilities in a COVID secure manner and to make longer-term, sustainable changes to make the best use of their facilities, for example through building partnerships with local sport providers to provide the right opportunities for pupils and increasing the accessibility of their facilities. The funding could help schools them to buy new equipment for sports and activities, as well as arranging additional cleaning and clear signage to help maintain social distancing.
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England said:
"We are delighted with this additional support to help children and young people return to sport and activity when it is safe to do so.
"Schools play a vital role in keeping young people active and the pandemic has had a huge impact on their ability to open up their facilities. With this new investment, Active Partnerships will provide support and funding for their local schools so they can open after school and during the school holidays, providing more sports clubs and activity facilities to children and the wider community."
For more information contact Charlie Crane cccrance@ActivePartnerships.org
At Active Suffolk we are hopeful that funding will be awarded locally, allowing us to continue the work we have previously done to support schools in Suffolk through this project. Check out the case studies detailing the work we did in the last year on the Opening School Facilities project at www.activesuffolk.org/opening-schools-facilities-proje