We’ve always believed in a kind of collectivism in grassroots sport – clubbing together, sharing facilities and the like – to help it thrive and maximise its potential, but it’s often been frustratingly absent. A recent report in The Guardian, however, has claimed that schools may soon be forced to open over the summer so they can be used for sporting activity.

Children’s Fitness Levels Drop Every Summer

What a hugely progressive move this would be. Under the plan, schools in England would start hosting sporting, creative and other activities in their gyms, halls and sports pitches. The drive is intended to help tackle childhood obesity, give under-18s somewhere to go and help tackle the so-called “holiday hell” facing families needing childcare during the summer holidays. Remarkably, research shows children’s fitness levels drop by up to 80% over the summer due to inactivity.

Furthermore, Sport England research shows that 39% of the country’s sports facilities are based at schools. While many are hired out during term-time to generate additional income, they often remain unused during the six-week summer holiday when schools are closed, which has long felt entirely nonsensical.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, the former Paralympic champion, who led a delegation of sports and health experts to lobby the government, said school premises could play a vital role if they became “community hubs” over the summer.

We are ignoring invaluable community assets sitting right on our doorsteps – school facilities – which should be unlocked during the holidays to give every child the opportunity for a healthy, happy summer. Millions of children are being let down and left behind over the summer holidays, forced to choose between days spent in front of a screen or on street corners. tanni grey-thompson

PE Funding Doubled for Schools

In other positive school related news, afPE (Association for Physical Education) has received confirmation from the DfE (Department for Education) that the Primary PE and Sport Premium will continue, at the doubled rate of £320 million for the 2019-2020 academic year.

It will now be incumbent on schools to use the money wisely and ensure high quality, broad and sustainable provision is the order of the day. Schools have a huge influence on sporting participation and, as a result, the health and well-being of future generations, and these two recent developments are a real shot in the arm where that is concerned.

If you have any influence at your kids’ school, whether on the board of governers or in another capacity, why not lobby your school to open up in the summer. It can prove a huge boon for a school or sports college – providing sporting opportunities helps to raise your school’s profile and status, and demonstrates that you take seriously your commitment to the local community. Creating that positive perception in your local catchment area can lead to parents choosing to send their kids to your school, and being seen as a positive community hub / presence can improve community cohesion and be a way of negating and reducing the risk of out of hours anti-social behaviour, as well as developing wider school links. Let’s keep working together, and keep driving forward for a healthier future.

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