Derby pupils

SCHOOLS in Derby and Derbyshire are set to receive more Government money to help them prioritise physical activity as they look to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Primary school children in England will benefit from higher quality PE lessons and better sport opportunities after a £320m PE and Sports Premium was announced by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Since 2013, schools have received funding of, on average, £18,000 per school to spend on PE, sport and physical activity.  This will continue post-pandemic and, according to Progressive Sports Derbyshire Chesterfield and Nottingham director Adam Holland, the inclusion of sport and physical activity has never been more important.

Adam and his team have received dozens of enquiries from schools in the area about delivering their Ofsted-approved sessions and he is keen to stress the importance of sport in the curriculum.

Progressive Sports currently deliver sessions to almost 50 schools in Derby and Derbyshire – including Ravensdale Junior, Newhall Infant & Junior and Etwall Primary School - using previous funding which was available.

Adam said: “The funding available can be used alongside any money leftover from the PE and Sport Premium grant this year or last and will help schools, who have had such a difficult time during the pandemic, to prioritise physical activities, sport and physical education.

“Physical activity – and we deliver sessions to youngsters between the ages of four and 13 with sports such as Futsal, cricket, dance, gymnastics and even Glow in the Dark dodgeball – helps increase social skills and wellbeing, which has been affected during the pandemic.

“PE has moved on so much in the past few years and there is much more awareness of the positive effect that taking part in activity has on children; sport can help with general wellbeing, communication and anger management.

“As long as that activity is engaging and varied, plus as inclusive as possible – and our coaches are fully trained to deliver this – then it is of great benefit to everyone involved.

“Children’s health – both physical and mental – has never been more important, so this news is fantastic for Derby and Derbyshire schools.”

The funding builds on the Schools Sport and Activity Action Plan, which will be updated later this year.

The news comes after a recent study of 2,000 parents in the UK, carried out by Sports Direct – which has its headquarters in Derbyshire – revealed that one in five aren’t happy with the amount of sport their offspring does.

And even those who previously enjoyed sport have lost interest over the lockdowns; as many as 55 per cent of children who attended an extra-curricular sports club before the coronavirus pandemic have not returned, despite restrictions lifting and clubs restarting.

Adam is keen to change this and Progressive Sports Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Nottingham have had their most successful 12 months so far with waiting lists for their summer coaching courses.

He said: “All sessions were carefully planned so that they were Covid-safe and complied with the local county council guidance.

“We had waiting lists for our coaching courses and we found that those youngsters who had attended our sessions were less anxious about returning to schools once they reopened following six months off due to Covid.

“We make our sessions – the ones we teach in schools and also our holiday and after-school sessions - fun and engaging and, as well as aiding general wellbeing, sport can also help with communication, anger management and, in schools, we can bring in elements of more traditional subjects such as maths and English into our sessions, too.

“This announcement is fantastic news and we’re looking forward to getting the youngsters of Derby and Derbyshire active.”

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