Schoolzone blog: Another year of PE funding

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5 Nov 2014

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The government this week announced a continuation of the PE funding (a "fresh boost" as they put it), citing research showing that it's been a success. We took issue with this interpretation of the research in a previous post since it showed that two thirds of schools said there has been only "a little impact" on confidence, healthier lifestyle or physical fitness. A quarter felt that there had been no impact at all on improvements in other academic subjects.

Apparently the amount of PE lesson time has gone up by 13 minutes per pupil per week - the inference being that this is as a result of this funding, though in the absence of data on any previous years, we'll have to take this at face value. We reckon this works out at around £9.60 per lesson (workings below*). Now, schools also say they have spent the funding as follows (according to the research cited by the DfE):

  • 86% have spent it on training
  • 76% have spent in on new resources
  • 74% have spent in on extra-curricular activities
  • 67% have spent in on employing a new sports coach
Presumably sports coaches cost more than £9.62 per hour, let alone the fact that out of this sum there has been an allocation for training, resources and extra-curricular activities. So presumably schools (ie their staff and their budgets) are making up the difference. And yet, despite all this extra effort and cost to the school, Ofsted have said, among other criticisms, that "very few schools were using their funding to improve pupils’ health and well-being".

Also, where does the 13 minutes extra come from? Lesson time apparently (according to the DfE press release) - in which case, what learning are children giving up to be no more healthy? Would the time be better spent, say reading (see Russell Hobby's post on this) - perhaps books which promote British values...

But the original thinking behind this funding of course was to support the Olympics legacy - not sure how, but maybe one day we'll look at the clutch of gold medals held by future athletes and say: "thank goodness we spent £150 million a year on additional primary PE funding".

Hands up if you think that's likely. Better still comment below...

* Our workings:

Numer of pupils 4,500,000
Funding per year £150,000,000
Additional pupil minutes per week 58,500,000
Additional pupil hours per week 9,750,000
Additional pupil hours per year 390,000,000
Cost per pupil per hour £0.38
Cost per class per hour £9.62




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