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11 Mar 2021 129

Thought leadership article: Return of schools and school sport provision

UK Coaching's Head of Policy and Impact Heather Douglas's thought leadership article on the return of schools and school sport provision.

Like many other parents, I’m really pleased that my children have been able to return to school this week. Home schooling has been tough but more than anything, it’s been really difficult to see how much they’ve missed their friends and the routine that comes with going to school every day.

It’s also been a real challenge ensuring that they have had time dedicated to sport and physical activity. And clearly, that has been felt by many parents as a recent survey by the Youth Sport Trust found that more than two-thirds of parents felt their children had become less active during the pandemic.

Children need to reconnect

Whilst getting kids back into academic subjects is imperative, it’s also really important that PE, school sport and physical activity aren’t forgotten. Children need to reconnect outdoors with freedom - physical and psychological freedom - to thrive.

It’s been encouraging to see the Government taking the provision of sport and physical activity seriously.

UK Coaching is part of a sector support system influencing the Department for Education on the importance of a coaching workforce to support the Government’s School Sport and Physical Activity Action Plan. We also have a wealth of resources to improve the coaching of children on our website.

Sport England also recently committed £10 million to open school facilities during the holidays. This is a brilliant move to ensure children and young people have access to facilities ongoing.

The desire to coach

We asked coaches in a straw poll across our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels, whether they would jump at the chance to coach at these facilities (even if it differed from their normal coaching environment). Nearly 100% of respondents said yes.  

We need to ensure this is not just a ‘tick boxing’ exercise and that coaches are actually given the opportunity to utilise these facilities. The desire is certainly there.  

You need someone to lead activity sessions and motivate kids to get involved. Coaches are those people and UK Coaching will be lobbying for them so no opportunity to return to coaching is missed.  

We know that children who are coached are happier, so at a time of low levels of physical activity and mental health, the coaching workforce can provide the experiences children and young people need to thrive.

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