New research School sport report shows how primary schools across the UK can engage disengaged children into school sport and activity. Last year, Sport England commissioned Fit For Sport, the UK’s leading children’s healthy lifestyle provider, to explore how primary schools in Manchester and Somerset could provide more opportunities for young people to be physically more active and take part in school sport. Importantly, children of all physical levels and ability were targeted.
While Engage to Compete encouraged additional activity in PE lessons from PE teachers, it was the non-curricular staff and time periods at school where the biggest impact was made.
Non-PE department staff learned how to deliver physical activities during lunchtime and playtime, thus tapping into underused resources and making the lunchtime ‘downtime’ more positive and productive. This was welcomed by schools with 62% highlighting competition and activity in playtime as a key requirement of the programme.
The Engage to Compete pilot programme was funded by Sport England and delivered by Fit For Sport. It set out to develop confidence and skills of children so they can find the pathway easier between school sport/activity and represent their schools at the Sainsbury’s School Games.
“By providing training, support and resources, Engage to Compete enables schools to continue the programme – and indeed build upon it – long into the future,” explains Dean Horridge, Fit For Sport founder and CEO. “Investment in school sport is welcome, but for changes to be sustainable, we must empower schools and inspire pupils: Engage to Compete does this.”
How is Engage to Compete different?
Engage to Compete is different to any other school sport/activity programme as it provides structured and personalised training for both PE and support staff, resources and on-site support. It engages the whole school – not just the ‘sporty’ children – and gives youngsters access to positive and frequent physical activity and school sport sessions. This develops their confidence and skills with the ultimate aim that they can represent their school at the annual Sainsbury’s School Games.
Talking about the Engage to Compete programme, Sport England Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, says: “We know that children’s early experience of sport and physical activity plays a major role in developing a sporting habit as they grow older. It’s very positive to see how giving pupils access to sport in innovative ways outside of traditional PE lessons, can help build an appetite for sport and even competition.”
Independent research validates programme
Research carried out independently by Crichton Casbon Consultancy shows that the pilot programme was a huge success. Its independent evaluation study of the effectiveness and impact of the Engage to Compete pilot was reviewed by the UK Active Research Institute in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Aberystwyth.
The results speak for themselves. Ten thousand children across 47 primary schools in Manchester and Somerset took part in the first ever engagement scheme of its kind from March to October 2013.
• 81% of all the schoolchildren engaged in some form of activity at Level 1 (Intra School)
• 54% of all the schoolchildren engaged in competitive sport at Level 2 (Inter School)
• 81% enjoyed games where they had individual targets and an aim to score more points
• There was a 12.39% increase on average in physical activity level across the project
“Our report shows without doubt that Engage to Compete is a highly effective intervention programme that can engage all in activity and increase participation in competition levels in underperforming regions,” says Crichton Casbon, Independent Evaluator. “It proves that disengaged schools and pupils are receptive to physical activity and, given the opportunity, children will engage with sport. For some, this programme will be the stepping stone to a rewarding hobby or even career in sport.”