The Department for Education has released their Year 1 report findings on how primary and secondary schools had been impacted by COVID-19. The aim of the report is to pool together recommendations to support educational recovery.
Despite the importance that was placed on community sport, fitness, and recreation in the House of Lords Report for Sport and Recreation and the Autumn Budget, it was found many schools had reduced hours spent on music and PE. 56% of primary and 37% of secondary schools reported that they had reduced hours for certain subjects, “particularly music and PE”.
Alison Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust added:
“Physically active children are happier and achieve higher levels of academic attainment than their less physically active peers. Schools using Active Recovery Curriculums are flourishing through the prioritisation of physical activity to support outcomes for young people following the pandemic. PE and sport are not a ‘nice to have’ in children’s lives, and today more than ever they are essential to their physical, social, and emotional development.”
Many schools had reported having practical impediments to holding PE such as staff shortages and heightened cleaning precautions. With low contraction rates in physical activity settings, the activities sector is in a prime position to assist.
Schools have a range of recommendations including that this year should be devoted to recovering normality. Their suggested focus included reading recovery, mental health and wellbeing interventions, quality first teaching, and extra staffing provision. For schools, focussing on using activities services would take much of the pressure of this year of recovery. New flexibly given funding could provide even greater support from the sector.
This is in view of evidence that emphasises the positive effects of physical activity on mental health and social isolation. In a report performed collaboratively between Mind and the Sport for Development Coalition, initiatives with this focus saw consistent improvements in mental health for participants.
To find out more about the report’s findings, see here.