Children playing football

School gyms and playing fields are to be kept open during the holidays in a bid to encourage children to remain active.

The initiative is being funded by the government’s School Sport and Activity Action plan, which was set up last year to tackle childhood obesity, which is at a record high. According to data shared by NHS Digital, 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school1.

The idea of keeping school facilities open was developed in response to research which shows that children are less active during the holidays.

Overall, Headteachers will be given £1.6 million to keep their facilities open and a further £500,000 has been earmarked to find new ways to engage with inactive young people and to increase training among PE teachers.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Getting children active from a young age helps them build confidence and learn skills they will use in later life. Many schools already open up their facilities so their communities can benefit and I want to encourage even more to do so.

“By backing schools with this extra money we can make more fun activities available all year round – everything from football to dodgeball – to help children find a sport that they will enjoy and which will keep them healthy.”

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said: “It is absolutely right that every child, regardless of background, has the chance to learn how to run, jump, throw, and catch to develop a healthy lifestyle.

“As we outlined last year, our School Sport and Activity Action Plan will mean that all children have access to at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity through quality PE, sport sessions, clubs and facilities inside and outside of school hours.

“By opening up school sports halls and playing fields to sports clubs and the wider community, we will increase opportunities, particularly for those with the least access and from the most deprived areas.”

[1] National Child Measurement Programme – England, 2016-17


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