A number of primary schools have been receiving funding based on student numbers since 2013 for the improvement of physical activity, sports, and PE. Schools usually hear about the grants and funding in the spring term, however for the last 2 years have had to wait until the summer term which has caused frustration for many schools and sporting charities and organisations, who demanded “urgent clarity” on the future of the funding.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson stated he was “pleased to announce that we will continue to fund the PE and sport premium next year, so primary schools can continue to prioritise children’s physical wellbeing alongside education recovery”. Why did it take so long for the DE to confirm their commitment to the funding?

Schools have recognised the growing importance of PE and sports on students mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. It gives them the fundamental tools and understanding to promote and maintain a healthier lifestyle and provide them with the skills necessary to do so. It is also key in learning several social skills with their peers such as trust, responsibility, and leadership. Exercise provides a number of psychological benefits such as helping to reduce stress and manage emotions, especially in the core years of primary school.

The importance of PE has grown significantly over the years, especially since covid-19 hit, and subsequently has been one of the many areas of teaching and education that has had to change the most as a result and should now receive more attention. The funding, therefore, is crucial in primary schools being able to make up for the time missed and to provide the highest possible level of physical education to students, making it a higher priority for the future.

Schools are also able to carry over any underspends from this year and last for physical education and sports, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing or tutoring and further education catch up on time lost due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The government have said this funding will help to “prioritise physical activities, sport and physical education with mental health and wellbeing support, or education catch up and tutoring”. More guidance is to be given over the coming weeks regarding the spending of the funding.

Megan Jordan

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