Education & Family

Schools urged to use PE cash to help obese pupils

Primary school soccer lesson Image copyright Thinkstock

Extra funding designed to boost sport in primary schools could be used to tackle childhood obesity, says Ofsted.

The watchdog looked at how 22 schools, identified as having good PE provision, were spending the government's Primary PE and Sport Premium.

The £150m-a-year fund was introduced in all England's primary schools last year to build on the 2012 Olympics legacy.

Overall, the inspectors said schools were making good use of the money and pupils' PE skills were improving.

Many were using the cash to employ sports coaches or specialist teachers, improve training to teachers and extend the range of sports on offer, says the report.

Some also forged links with local sport clubs and other schools to boost sporting opportunities.

However, the report adds heads would benefit from clearer guidance from the Department for Education on how best to target the funding.

Better lifestyles

Some heads said lack of guidance meant they were not initially confident about how to use the money.

Schools should "consider better ways" of using the cash to improve pupils' health and wellbeing, particularly to tackle obesity, say the inspectors.

The report notes that a few schools are already using "a small part of the funding" to promote better lifestyles and help overweight or obese pupils.

"However, overall, this was not done well enough in the majority. This is an area where head teachers feel that more guidance and support would be helpful."

The report highlights the example of Springfield Junior School in Suffolk which used some of the premium to employ a nutritionist to work with a small number of overweight pupils and their parents on diet and lifestyle.

The school said pupils increased their levels of physical activity and were more confident about joining in.

'Good character'

Other recommendations include activities aimed at the brightest pupils and efforts to encourage "non-participants" to take part in extracurricular sport.

Sean Harford, Ofsted's national director for schools policy, said: "Sport has the power to transform young lives. It is encouraging that schools are using the Primary PE and Sport Premium effectively.

"This may unearth a future Olympic star, but more importantly it is allowing all children to fully take part in PE and enjoy a greater range of sports.

"This is an obvious boost to their health, but it also helps to form good character too. I have found that the best schools know that sport is not an add-on to the timetable, but is an integral part of a school's ethos."

Emma Boggis, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said it was good to see the Primary PE and Sport Premium was "fulfilling the job".

Ms Boggis welcomed evidence of schools "being quite creative about how they choose to spend their money in order to inspire young people to take up a sporting habit for life".

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