Play Industry Responds To New Sport England Strategy

  • Posted on May 23, 2016

Sport England has published its new four year strategy, Towards an Active Nation, in which it commits £265m – 25% of its total resources – to tackling physical inactivity. The strategy will target the 28% of society that are currently least likely to exercise (those doing under 30 mins per week) with a focus on the least active groups – women and girls, people with disabilities, those from disadvantaged communities and particular ethnic groups. The rationale is that these are the groups that have most to gain from increasing their activity levels. Sport England acknowledges that in the past, it has over-invested in supporting people who are already regularly active.

Sport England will provide dedicated funding for initiatives to get children and young people active from the age of 5, designed ‘to build positive attitudes to sport and activity as the foundations of an active life’. While its remit lies outside the school curriculum, Sport England acknowledges that families do not arrange their lives according to divisions of responsibility within government or between the education and sports sectors. Inevitably then, we can expect to see initiatives that bridge the divide between school PE/sport and physical activity outside school hours, and which tackle the crucial transition from primary to secondary school at which physical activity often declines.

Specifically, Sport England will:

  • Invest £40 million in projects offering new opportunities for families with children to get active and play sport together.
  • Offer specialist training to secondary school teachers to improve sport provision for children of all abilities.
  • Help ensure there is a good sports and activity offer before and after the school day through satellite clubs, extended school day and breakfast clubs.

API Chair Mark Hardy says: “While these measures are welcome, it’s disappointing that the strategy makes no specific mention of play and its role in providing children with crucial early positive experiences of physical activity. I look forward, however, to seeing API members react positively and inventively to this strategy. A particularly notable initiative from the strategy is the new Community Asset Fund, which we hope will have potential to provide high quality play and adult outdoor fitness facilities for local communities, particularly in deprived areas. My hope is that the government’s long-awaited National Obesity Framework will give play its rightful recognition in the battle against inactivity.”

The Association of Play Industries (API) campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition of the value and benefits of play. Recent API research showed that nearly four in ten (38%) parents are worried their local playground will close down, with more than half (56%) unhappy about the lack of high quality play facilities in their local area.

For further information about the Association of Play Industries, contact: Deborah Holt, API Association Manager, tel: 024 7641 4999 or email [email protected]