Olympic heroine Victoria Pendleton calls for girls PE rethink

Girls playing hockeyOlympic and World cycling champion Victoria Pendleton last month called for a ‘radical rethink’ in the way sport is taught to girls in British schools.

Following recent statistics which show that girls leaving school are half as likely as boys to be physically fit, Pendleton has stated that she does not believe that PE lessons are planned with girls in mind, stating “The way sport is done at school is the stuff of nightmares for girls.”

“Some girls and some schools like traditional sports like football, hockey and netball; but others might want to try something completely different like street dance or self-defence.”

“The important thing is that we stop this silly idea that sport isn’t for girls.”

Ms Pendleton was speaking at the launch of the Youth Sport Trust’s latest initiative to tackle this lower level of participation by girls – the Girls Active Camp at Loughborough University.

Funded by Sport England and run in partnership with Women in Sport, the Girls Active Camp saw girls between 14 and 16 take part in sports sessions and leadership workshops, intended to turn them into champions for sport.

State schools do 3x less sport than independent counterparts

Runners lining upNew data has shown that independent school pupils in the UK participate in almost three times the amount of sports that state school pupils do.

Independent schools are encouraging their pupils to stay fit and healthy with an average of 5.4 hours of sport a week per pupil, and over 40 sports offered. This is in comparison with under 2 hours per week for students across all key stages at state schools.

This figure comes despite most state schools actively encouraging physical activity in the school day, as seen in the Youth Sport Trust survey of 2014.

Commenting on the data, John Claughton, chair of HMC Sports Committee who conducted the study noted that: “There is no doubt that one of the things an active sporting life in school [addresses] is the issue of obesity.”

£42m cut in funding for sports since 2010

Tennis courtA new BBC survey has shown this month that over £42m was cut from councils’ sports and leisure budget in the past five years.

This news was followed by athletes expressing the belief that cutting facilities was ‘short-termism’ that could have a huge impact upon communities’ health and fitness levels in the long term.

Amongst those regions with the biggest losses in sports and leisure budgets were London and north-west England, which saw cuts of over £12.3m.

Commenting on the extent of the cuts, David Moorcroft, former chief executive of UK Athletics said: “In times of cutbacks to public services, rightly or wrongly, sport and leisure is one of the first things to get cut.”

“It’s really unfortunate because the health and happiness of the nation and communities is based around being able to access facilities that encourage people to take physical activity.

“Ultimately, if we are trying to reduce obesity among young people, you can’t really have clubs and volunteers doing all that work. Once a facility is lost, it’s gone forever. When you come out of recession, it’s very difficult to rebuild it.”

Emma Boggis, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance which represents sports governing bodies in the UK, commented that she had “some sympathy” with local authorities “and the extreme financial pressures they are under”

“But reducing investment in sport and in leisure facilities is storing up problems for the longer-term,” she said.

“Limiting access to leisure facilities will result in greater inactivity and bigger costs to the NHS in terms of tackling conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.”

Sport England provide grassroots sport with a £12m ‘boost’

People playing footballSport England last month gave grassroots sport with a further funding boost, awarding over £12 million to organisations that help more people to become active.

The funding will be shared between 7 specialist sports organisations, known as Sport England’s National Partners, between 2015 and 2017.

The investment aims to support sport governing bodies in equality and diversity, coaching, talent, workforce development and safeguarding children.

The seven organisations benefiting from the boost will be: Child Protection Unit in Sport, The English Federation of Disability Sport, Sports Coach UK, SkillsActive UK, Sporting Equals, SportsAid and Women In Sport.

These organisations work with sport governing bodies to advise on their areas of expertise, helping sports to recognise and overcome a variety of issues.

Commenting on the funding boost, Nick Bitel, Sport England’s Chair said: “Investing in our National Partners enables sports’ national governing bodies and other partners to receive bespoke support to help them offer more opportunities and meet their targets to get more people playing sport more often.”

“We are confident that these investments can add real value to sport.”

New strategy launched to get London active

Marathon runners

London Sport, the capital’s sport and physical activity organisation, has launched a new strategy for an active London, in conjunction with Sport England and the Mayor of London.

The strategy aims to make London the most physically active sporting city in the world, with a vision of over one million Londoners becoming active by 2020. Currently one in every two people is not physically active, rising to three in every for those with a disability.

London Sport has set out 5 key objectives for its strategy:

  • Make it easier for Londoners to find the right activity, stay in it, and achieve their potential
  • Get more resources by making the best use of current investments and securing more
  • Support grassroots organisations by making the structures simpler and better
  • Create a bigger and better workforce to support activity
  • Harness the power of elite sport to create sustained grassroots activity and inspire the next generation of talent

London Sport will also support 46 National Governing Bodies of Sport in delivering their sport in the community, enabling the bodies to access local groups committed to increasing participation in sport throughout the capital.

For more information on London Sport, visit www.londonsport.org/aboutus.

County Championship cricket season just around the corner

Cricket playersSpring is in the air and this can mean only one thing – the County Championship cricket season is about to start. With the first matches taking place on 12th April, you still have time to order your cricket equipment from sportsequip.co.uk.

sportsequip.co.uk offer a full range of cricket equipment, including DIY cricket surfaces, full surface installation, cricket cages, netting, cricket ball machines, cricket wicket covers, cricket sight screens and a range of cricket ground equipment.

We also refurbish and resurface existing surfaces, for those who feel that their cricket surface still has life in it yet.

To find out more about our full range of cricket equipment, visit www.sportsequip.co.uk/acatalog/Cricket_Equipment.htm.

Coaching in Schools Portal launched to aid primary school sport

Football coachA new website designed to aid schools in utilising their government funding from the PE and sport Premium was launched in March.

The ‘Coaching in Schools Portal‘ will provide primary school head teachers with advice on how to recruit, develop and use coaches effectively, utilising the government funding.

The funding, which was introduced in 2013, currently goes directly to head teachers, meaning that they have the ultimate decision of how best to provide PE and sporting activities for their pupils. The average 250-student primary school gains around £9,000 of funding per year.

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‘Physical Education Declaration’ launched

Kids playing sport

The Association for Physical Education (afPE) has this month launched its ‘Physical Education Declaration’.

As the only physical education subject association in the UK, the afPE has partnered on initiatives such as the Primary PE and Sport Premium. The Association’s new declaration is intended to be a ‘simple and powerful message everyone could commit to and promote.’

The declaration highlights the key benefits of high quality sport in schools, and outlines 4 key asks to HELP ensure that every child has the opportunity to benefit.

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Sport England launches ‘Club Matters’

Sport England Club Matters

Last month, Sport England launched ‘Club Matters‘, described as a ‘One Stop Shop of support for sports clubs’. The Club Matters resource is designed to pull together Sport England’s existing support for clubs, combining Clubmark, Club Leaders and Help for Clubs to create a single, free support package for sports clubs.

The resource will be comprised of online support, workshops, mentoring, club improvement plans, club views and Clubmark. All of these methods of support will provide clubs with learning and guidance on all aspects of the running of a club, whether it be ‘large, small, formal or informal’.

The tools and resources available will help sports clubs to understand management, members and volunteers, skill development, and the creation of more sustainable clubs.

Youth participation in sport shown in new Sportivate report

Child playing tennisSport England last month released a new report on their Sportivate programme (PDF), highlighting youth participation in sport in the UK.

Sportivate is a London 2012 legacy project that aims to give young people opportunities to try new sports, with an overall objective of sustained participation. The programme was initially given £56 million of Lottery funds, but following early success gained an extra £10 million funding, meaning that it will run until March 2017.

The report shows that 45.3% of the annual target of retained participants has been achieved within the first six months, whilst the overall four-year target has been exceed by 22%.

In total, 416,500 people have completed a Sportivate project, with 57.1% of retained participants being male and 42.9% female. This gender divide is also shown in the figures for initial engagement in a project, and highlights the need for campaigns such as This Girl Can, which encourage more women to overcome the barriers to participation in sport.