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By GreaterSport | 05 February 2021 | TAGS: Children and young people, schools, Opening school facilities, Education

Sport England are investing £10.1 million of government money to help more schools open their facilities to the public once the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is over.

The funding, which has been provided by the Department for Education, is in addition to the £1.5m awarded as part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan they announced in July 2019 and will help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays. However, large scale capital/building works aren't eligible items for this funding.

Sport England will work with the nationwide network of Active Partnerships – locally based organisations that specifically focus on getting people in their areas involved in sport and physical activity – to distribute the funding.

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England chief executive, said the money would help more children and young people return to sport and physical activity as soon as it's safe to do so.

"Schools play a vital role in keeping young people active and the pandemic has had a huge impact on their ability to open up their facilities," he explained.

"With this new investment, Active Partnerships will provide support and funding for their local schools so they can open after school and during the school holidays, providing more sports clubs and activity facilities to children and the wider community."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the government recognised the impact the pandemic has had on children’s health and wellbeing.

"Keeping children and young people active has never mattered more," he said. "This £10.1 million investment in school sport and swimming facilities will boost the opportunities for pupils to stay physically active.

"Working with Sport England and a nationwide network of Active Partnerships, funding will be targeted at the areas and schools who need it most. It will mean facilities can stay open outside of school hours for more activities, help them remain Covid-secure and improve access to equipment for pupils with disabilities."

This new funding will help Active Partnerships to support their local schools to understand the challenges in opening their facilities in a Covid-secure manner and could include helping them to buy new equipment for sports and activities, as well as arranging additional cleaning and clear signage to help maintain social distancing.

This investment comes at an important time given the impact coronavirus has had on the activity levels of children and young people and the significant decline in the number of schools offering after-school clubs for pupils or opening their facilities for community use.

A recent survey, conducted on Sport England's behalf, showed that 91% of schools would be prepared to open their facilities for community use when restrictions are lifted, despite the fact only 52% have been able to at any point over the last year.

The ​recent Active Lives Children and Young People Survey also showed the number of children who met the government’s guidance for an hour of activity a day dropped by more than 100,000 (2.3%) in the summer of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

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