In a fragmented, complex, and confusing landscape, where structures and process differ in various areas this will always be difficult to join up unless there is a reason to do so. That reason might be legislation or stronger mandates of specific partners in order to make this happen as if left to do so organically it is unlikely to happen. Key bodies such as those mentioned above should already be working together and if there were replicable structures in local areas that included the key interfaces of (for example) the local club, venue, authorities, coaches/instructors on one hand and local participants on the other then these should feed into county structures and then national. All the structures and partners must enable an interface to work effectively. Streamlining of services would also be useful, allowing for simple go to services that are not replicated elsewhere. For example, where funding is concerned, there is no one single source locally or nationally that provides all relevant information. There are numerous funding searches which do not show all available funding streams and therefore it is harder for local providers to find what they need and apply.
In school physical activity has been debated for a long time. The only way to absolutely engage young people to participate in PE and sport/recreation at school is to invest in the training, timetabling and equipment in order to make this a mandatory and positive experience. Primary schools often have no PE specialist, this needs to change as at present, teachers who like sport are often given the lead in this area. They then tend to focus on the sports they like. Providing appropriate training, mandating daily activity and giving this the attention it deserves would be one way. However, at a young age, this should be less about sport and more about movement and key developmental activities, with sport being the added extra for those who want to partake. A good example of this is schools who do the daily mile and the impact this has on pupil learning, also, schools who have trained staff as PE teachers, so they have the experience to deliver in this area. Extra provision is of course invaluable with third party providers coming into school, but it is sporadic and leaves some pupils at a disadvantage.
It also needs to be fun at a young age. Consideration to be given to moving away from traditional/ competitive sports with a more wholesome approach in offering a broad range of opportunities such as sport, movement, dance, fitness, walking etc.
In secondary age pupils, PE to be given more timetabling and variety. Also, variety on offer, perhaps pupil led, for extracurricular activities.
We need to have proper engagement and research by talking to under-represented groups, find out what interests them and what their pain points are. Deliver activities which address all of these. Hyper-local activities and online delivery have roles here. We need to get the details right and also engage real people as role models/ ambassadors/ influencers.
A few great examples to look at and which were funded by Sport England and the National Lottery Tackling Inequalities fund via EMD UK include:
The Move It or Lose It Club https://bit.ly/39nM4ec
Synergy Dance https://bit.ly/3iVqHUB
Keep Fit Association DVD for older people with long term health conditions
Medau DVD for care homes
Para Dance UK https://bit.ly/3r39JGz
These are the right priorities, but the measurement is not clear or accurate. Government or Sport England need to help NGBs in robustly measuring the impact their activities have on each of the five outcomes. If this were done effectively, particularly around health, it would unlock commitment and resources from the health sector. Uniformity on measurement would also help.
The twice a month measure in Active Lives might not give the best data set, consideration to be given to reverting to weekly participation.
High profile TV coverage, more campaigns backed by high profile people, harsher punishments for those who are deemed to have crossed the line in terms of comments / actions made, especially when done by high profile people. But also, normalising these things so they are less taboo or brushed under the carpet.
A common framework and standards approach. But this has to be about action, not just to tick boxes and so needs an element of flexibility. Education, informing, influencing are all key areas of action as well as robust policy and process. Sharing best practice. The CPSU and Ann Craft Trust have been brilliant in driving this area forward, but all sector partners have a responsibility to be proactive in this area. Talking and listening to what young people want, as well as a review of barriers for organisations. Sharing of resources (including staff) would help here as well to ensure all organisation have access to those with experience and specialism in this area. Often lead safeguarding roles are wrapped into other roles and so there is a disparity in the time given by any one organisation to this area of work against competing priorities. This is where shared staff might be advantageous.
This should all be linked to the Code for Sports Governance as that is where the accountability exists, the refresh of this may open up opportunities to add more areas in.
We think we need a national plan for sport and physical activity, not recreation. It should build on Sporting Future and must be genuinely cross-departmental (as Sporting Future was intended to be but failed). Whilst it would be hard to implement a national plan, some structure is needed to give guidance for organisations so working towards same overarching goal.
29 January 2021