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Coaching in Primary Schools Toolkit

Welcome to the Coaching in Primary Schools Toolkit, developed by UK Coaching in collaboration with our national partners - the association for Physical Education (afPE), County Sports Partnership Network, Sport England, UKactive Kids and the Youth Sport Trust (YST).

Coaches can perform a valuable role in supporting and up-skilling teachers to improve the delivery of physical education (PE) and sport in schools.

We realise that head teachers, PE leads and school governors are extremely busy, so here are the key messages about using the Toolkit and the Primary PE and Sport Premium:

  • Coaches should only be employed through the Premium when a need has been identified via a school PE, sport and physical activity review.
  • Coaches should not be used to displace teachers during curriculum time.
  • Your local Active Partnership can help you identify a suitable coach.
  • Use the Toolkit's self-review tool to ensure your use of coaches is both effective and sustainable. 
  • In addition to generic advice, use the Toolkit to read specific information on activities such as dance.

Please be aware that in some sports a title other than coach may be used to describe the person leading an activity, ie instructor, leader or trainer. Needless to say the same principles apply, regardless of the name.

Coach Deployment Guidance

The first detailed guidance on how the sport and physical activity sector’s professional standards framework will affect the deployment of coaches in primary schools out of curriculum time in England has been published.

The Minimum Deployment Requirements Guidance factsheet has been developed in partnership by Active Partnerships, afPE, CIMSPA, ukactive KIDS, UK Coaching and the Youth Sport Trust. The project has been led by Sport England, with support from the Department for Education.

The factsheet provides headteachers at a primary school level with a “single source of truth” as to what qualifications and certification are required from sports coaches in their schools outside of curriculum time. It also details a transitional phase from now until academic year 2022-2023 as the whole sector moves to a deployment requirements approach based on agreed professional standards that have been created by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

You can access the guidance below.

For more information on the deployment of coaches outside of curriculum time head to cimspa.co.uk/deploy.

Minimum Deployment Requirements Guidance

Download the factsheet to understand what qualifications and certification are required from sports coaches when working in schools outside of curriculum time


The Government has provided additional funding of over £150 million per annum since 2013-2014 to improve PE and school sport in primary schools in England. In September 2017, the funding was doubled.

Key Information for School Governors

The National Governance Association published an article in their Governing Matters magazine on the role school governors can play in the promotion and effective use of the Primary PE and Sport Premium. If you're a school governor and want to know more about the funding, this is a good place to start. Further guidance outlining the roles and duties of school governors is also available on gov.uk.

The funding is ring-fenced and can only be spent on the provision of PE and sport in schools. Ofsted assesses how primary schools spend the funding, and schools are required to publish this information on their website. More information about website reporting can be found on gov.uk and, if required, you can download tools to help you measure and report the impact of your spending from afPE and the YST

To ensure that funding is spent effectively and sustainably, we strongly recommend that all primary schools undertake a school PE, sport and physical activity review.

To help primary schools, afPE has developed some easy to use definitions of physical activity, PE and school sport, which you can download from their website. Information also exists on the effective and sustainable use of coaches and there is a review resource on how coaches can be used with the Premium.

Department for Education Vision for the Primary PE and Sport Premium

'All pupils leaving primary school physically literate and with the knowledge, skills and motivation necessary to equip them for a healthy, active lifestyle and lifelong participation in physical activity and sport.'

Department for Education Objective for the Primary PE and Sport Premium

'To achieve self-sustaining improvement in the quality of PE and sport in primary schools. It is important to emphasise that the focus of spending must lead to long lasting impact against the vision (above) that will live on well beyond the Primary PE and Sport Premium funding. 

It is expected that schools will see an improvement against the following five key indicators:

  • the engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity - kick-starting healthy active lifestyles
  • the profile of PE and sport being raised across the school as a tool for whole school improvement
  • increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff in teaching PE and sport
  • broader experience of a range of sports and activities offered to all pupils
  • increased participation in competitive sport.' 

Ofsted Inspections

Ofsted assesses how primary schools spend the Premium. You can find details of what inspectors look for in the ‘School inspection handbook', specifically, how effectively schools use the funding to improve the quality and breadth of their PE and sport provision, eg increasing participation so that all pupils develop healthy lifestyles and positive attitudes towards keeping active. 

It is crucial to remember that Ofsted will apply exactly the same criteria for observing a coach or other support staff as for a qualified teacher.

Online Reporting

You must publish details of how you use the Premium on your school’s website. You can download tools to help you measure and report the impact of your spending from afPE and the YST.

afPE and the YST both offer primary schools the opportunity to join their respective 'Quality Marks' schemes. Through a self-review process, the schemes recognise those schools that have a strong provision for PE and sport with a badge of excellence.

Active Partnerships

Active Partnerships (APs) is a system of 44 England based strategic organisations that are committed to increasing participation in sport and physical activity. Their partners include governing bodies of sport, and their clubs, schools, local authorities, sport and leisure facilities, primary care trusts and other sports and non-sports organisations.

UK Coaching works directly with APs, which are tasked with co-ordinating the Primary PE and Sport Premium to schools in their county. As they have information on local coaches, they should be your school's first port-of-call when finding a suitable coach. Head over to its website to find your Active Partnership (AP). Additionally, you will be able to advertise your coaching vacancies through your AP.

Your AP will also have a member of staff responsible for coaching (normally the coaching lead or coaching development manager). They will be able to provide you with help and guidance. Use the Active Partnerships website to navigate to your AP's website, where you'll be able to find your coaching lead’s contact details. 

The types of information your AP will be able to provide you includes:

Pooling of Local School Resources

In certain areas, schools work together to pool PE and sport resources. Where these relationships are in place, your AP will be able to provide you with the relevant information and contact details.

Local Authority PE Strategic Leads

If your local authority has a PE advisor, you may wish to contact them for advice on the recruitment of sports coaches working within and outside the national curriculum.

Governing Bodies of Sport

UK Coaching works with governing bodies of sport, who are responsible for training and qualifying coaches and set requirements for coaches working in different environments and with different participants.

Governing bodies of sport will hold databases containing information on suitable coaches who hold appropriate qualifications. Some may also have a coach register or licence scheme. By working with coaches who are licensed, you can be assured of their quality. Access Sport England's list of recognised governing bodies of sport for more information.

Other Organisations that Can Help


UK Coaching is passionate about promoting PE and school sport for disabled children and those with special educational needs (SEN). We have a range of free-to-access impairment-specific fact sheets that coaches and teachers working with disabled and SEN children can utilise - making sessions as inclusive as possible. 

UK Coaching also offers a range of workshops that serve to upskill coaches/teachers and raise awareness around inclusive coaching. They are: 

How to Coach Disabled People in Sport

This workshop aims to answer commonly asked questions about coaching disabled people in sport and shows how coaches can, with a few minor adjustments, make their coaching more inclusive and effective.

Inclusive Coaching: Disability

This workshop aims to help coaches make their practice more inclusive of disabled people.

Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People in Sport

Developed in partnership with UK Deaf Sport and the National Deaf Children’s Society, this is an interactive workshop that helps coaches develop their verbal and non-verbal communication skills in order to fully include deaf people of all ages. 

Project Ability

The number one aim of Project Ability is to have more disabled young people take part in competitive sport. Through the School Games and a network of 50 lead Project Ability schools in England, each selected for their established expertise in engaging disabled young people, schools can improve the quality and extent of their provision of PE, sport and physical activity for disabled pupils.

Project Ability is funded by Sport England and delivered by the YST as part of the School Games initiative. It includes:

  • bespoke training; developed by the YST to provide local advice and guidance to School Games organisers and host schools
  • the establishment and implementation of even more local competitive opportunities for disabled young people
  • and the development of school club activities.

Head to the YST's website for further information on the project, including a list of Project Ability schools.

Coaching in Primary Schools Toolkit

This resource is part of a series aimed at primary schools in the UK developed by a range of national organisations.