Speakers: Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive Officer, Swim England; Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Primary School lead, Youth Sport Trust; Dr Gerald Griggs, Head of Academics, University Campus of Football Business
5 September 2018
All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood
Title: The Primary PE and Sport Premium
Chair: Baroness (Floella) Benjamin
Speakers: Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive Officer, Swim England; Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Primary School lead, Youth Sport Trust; Dr Gerald Griggs, Head of Academics, University Campus of Football Business
Chair’s Opening Remarks:
Good evening everybody and welcome to this, the 37th meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. I think we deserve a round of applause! We are the most active all-party group, with a meaningful meeting every month about children. Everything affects children, so thank you all for being here and thank you all for supporting us and thank you for making a difference.
I understand many of you were here earlier for a meeting about our campaign to appoint a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People. We need this desperately and I hope you will all give the campaign your full support.
It’s almost like déjà vu for me – because way back in the 80s, I tried to get a Minister for Children in Cabinet. It took a long time – 20 years – to get that in place and it’s strange now that we are fighting to get a Cabinet Minister for Children once again, because over the years it’s been downgraded and downgraded.
One thing I would say to you is, don’t expect to get an individual Minister for Children, because you won’t get it. I found that we had to make a compromise and make sure that the person who was going to be in charge of children was in charge of their own Secretary of State Department. Because what they will say, based on the experiences I had, is that they can’t afford an extra person because having an extra person sitting round the Cabinet table means more money, more departments, etc. So what we have to do is to find the right Department – it used to come under Education – so that there is somebody in that Department who would be feeding into the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State, once they are round the Cabinet table, would be talking about issues that are affecting children.
So, to be realistic, that’s what we have to be going for. To go for the very top means that we realise we’re going to have to come down – but the important thing is to get somebody. As long as we get somebody talking about children, as long as we get somebody focussing on children, as long as we make sure that they are round that table, in Cabinet – that’s what we’re after. At the moment we haven’t really got anybody feeding in all the various Departments and talking about children. If I was round the table, it’d be different! “Home Secretary – what do you mean by that?”; “Health – Education – hmmm?” See what I mean? You need somebody who really and truly believes in children and at the moment we are living in a society where people do not believe in children, or put children first.
I don’t know why they can’t see what we can see!
We need to actually keep talking about it, reaching for it, pushing for it – reaching for the sky but knowing we will have to come down because we have to be realistic, and we know we have to make compromises, but at the same time, push! push! push!
Write to your MPs. Write to schools. Write to local councils. Write to everybody, saying “What are you doing around your table? How are you putting children first?” “Have you thought of this and that?” Because we’re all different; we all have different fields we’re involved in, and we’ve got to make sure that every person we’re dealing with understands CHILDHOOD LASTS A LIFETIME.
Eunice Lumsden is here – we do it daily, don’t we, Eunice? Daily we do it, daily we keep on. All my followers know my mantra – childhood lasts a lifetime – repeat and repeat until it becomes natural thinking. And that’s the way to do it – we don’t go screaming, we don’t go shouting, we are just very firm and very determined to make that difference, and to push the barriers until we get what we want. As I said, it took me 20 years for Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Blunkett to say yes, we’re going to have somebody in Cabinet doing just that. At the moment, financially, the Treasury is going to say we can’t do that, so we have to find another way that it will happen, and get every Minister, every Secretary of State, when they are making their decisions, to think about children.
We have quite a young Cabinet formed of people who have got young children and people who do know what it’s like for their child to go online, what it’s like to protect their child, what it’s like for children at school . . . that’s how you tap in and that’s how you get the change, when they know what you are talking about. Their children aren’t grown up so much that they have forgotten, because when people’s children grow up they forget what it’s like to have a little baby, or to bring up a 10-year-old, or somebody going through puberty – they forget. But we are here to remind them, aren’t we?
But anyhow, I’ll get off my soapbox now! But I’m very much hoping that we are going to make something happen, and with all your support and all the connections that you have, we will make it happen. We don’t want it to take 20 years again because time is getting shorter and shorter for our children – early years! early years! early years! early years! – is what we’ve got to keep talking about.
So . . . this evening, we are considering the Primary PE and Sport Premium. It was introduced in 2013 as part of a commitment to a Post London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Legacy. Do you remember back to the Olympics in 2012, when every child wanted to be an athlete, and every child wanted to go and represent Britain? Well, where is that legacy? What has it done? What has been the impact? What is the future direction and the potential of the ‘Premium’ to improve the health and well-being of primary-aged children?
Primary-aged children. We’ve got to get them when they’re babies, and make them understand that they’ve got to go swimming by throwing them in the swimming pool, getting them on the field, playing, understanding that it’s important to be active.
We may also consider what legacy this has left for Physical Education and if the Premium is, or can be, an effective vehicle for long lasting sustainable change to improve the health, well-being and education of children beyond and before the primary years.
I can also announce that we will be undertaking a report into this topic soon and would like to thank the Universities of Winchester, Kingston and Sheffield Hallam for coming together to provide the necessary sponsorship. I understand representatives from these Universities are in the room tonight. Could you please stand up and take a bow, so we can see who we are thanking?
I hope that this will again be a very successful report, as all our reports are. People do take notice – we might not get the credit but we’re not after credit: we’re after change.
We have three excellent speakers this evening to help us. First of all we have Jane Nickerson, the CEO of Swim England. Do you know, when I first came to Britain, the teacher said, “Oh Floella, coloured people can’t swim: there’s no need to learn!” – That’s true! It’s why you don’t see many people of colour doing a lot of swimming. We were told when we came to Britain, “We don’t want you in the swimming pool because you’ll dirty the water!” Those are the kind of things that I had to put up with. But now of course life has changed and we want to have children of all cultures learning to swim and being part of that wonderful, physical world. There’s nothing like a swim, is there? I still can’t swim but Keith and I made sure that our children learned.
And then we have Kate Bousfield, the Primary School Lead from Youth Sport Trust, and Gerald Griggs, Head of Academics, University Campus of Football Business. I’ve always wanted to be a football manager, and I can imagine myself motivating kids with a “you can do it!” Football is a great physical way of motivating kids, even kids who don’t feel that they can be part of something. The best children to watch playing football are children with learning difficulties. If you see a bunch of Downs Syndrome children playing football – they’re the best! When the opposition team score a goal, they cheer! They motivate each other. That’s the kind of thing we want. We want children to relate to the feeling of winning, achieving and congratulating one another. Not to treat each other as enemies, but as partners. If we can do that on the football pitch it’s a great way to teach children when they get older to be accepting, to compromise, to learn about give and take.
I am going to ask them to speak for no more than 5-7 minutes each and then I’m going to open the floor for questions. So, Gerald, will you start us off please?
Dr Gerald Griggs, Head of Academics, University Campus of Football Business
First, some history to provide context. If we look at 10 years before PESP, within primary education we had a significant shift from specialist to generalist training since 2002. We moved from specialist teachers going into the workforce to generalist ones.
Universities decided they didn’t need 3 and 4 year courses because they didn’t need to train specialists, so they started providing more 1 year PGCE courses so a great deal of knowledge stopped going into schools.
There was an increased focus in primary schools on Maths, English and Science, and the need to report into league tables, etc.
At the same time, economic streamlining of LEAs meant the removal of subject advisors, so not only had we no specialists going in, but also no one of experience at the tiller to advise how to develop.
There was one consolation in that timeframe with the introduction in 2002 of money in the form of PESSCL and 2008 PESSYP strategies – SSP infra structure. The creation of sports colleges at least gave primary schools somewhere to look. They had a structure, they had secondary schools they were attached to, and they had someone to talk to.
One very small fact that’s often overlooked is the workforce reform in primary schools – which gave teachers 10% PPA time (for preparation, marking, etc.) The significance of that is that schools wondered how to fill that time and so coaches were brought in to cover it.
In 2010 the new coalition government dismantled the SPP structure, and all that got ripped out. So when we were faced with the Olympics and the legacy of what would we get from the, and we were at the point of when the PSPP money is available, we’d had 10 years of no primary PE specialists entering the profession – we had low knowledge and low confidence, we had no advisors, no structure or strategy . . . and we had no money.
At this significant same time, the moment that money was introduced, coaches were already in the buildings. They’d got their foot in the door generally through after-school clubs and covering PPA time. They were known people in the building. What became significant to that was that when money became available to cover PE or sports sessions, they were cheap, they wore tracksuits, they were confident and they did sport…and to the untrained eye it looked like PE…but it wasn’t.
My PESP research into how the money is being used is that it is mainly on coaches, private firms and local sports clubs (who have decided that even though they are a professional rugby outfit they can now teach primary gymnastics). We are effectively putting untrained people in front of our children, but significantly, the capital flows out of the building.
What is the impact? – We’ve got more clubs and more competitions in schools, but no robust measures and what is being reported is what you can actually count. Quality is too hard to count, so we count “things”. e.g. are there more tournaments? It becomes a very superficial view of what is actually happening.
Consequently, my concerns are around quality, which is varied – most untrained people who are working in schools are enthusiastic, confident and look the part, but they do have problems understanding children, have issues with behaviour management and they have very limited teaching skills appropriate to the age that’s in front of them. It’s a bit like inviting travel agents to teach geography – they look very nice and they’ve got brochures and maps and they’ve been round the world, but there’s a limit to how good they can be as an educator to teach a particular subject. And we also now pretend that these people are now delivering CPD! We’re suggesting that now the travel agent is training the teachers to teach geography!
As I said in the introduction, we also have questions about sustainability – what will the legacy be? What will we have to show for it? What happens when the money runs out? Because it will, because it always does.
We already know the answer, because it was staring at us in 2010. We’ll have low knowledge, low confidence, no advisors, no structure, no strategy and no money, because that’s what we had last time. And we’ll have it again. Don’t pretend that any of these people will be around when the money disappears.
So in conclusion, at one end of the spectrum the answer is very easy. We could just stop bothering altogether. However if we did this our children would never forgive us. Children like my son have movement in them – they learn through movement. We should give PE core subject status. We should promote it as being one of the significant things that we value. We need to create foundations from early years for PE and sport. Foundations are needed not just for later but also to benefit elite sports too. If you build on good foundations you get better and go further. It also has to be joined up, and we need to create a joined up, bottom up curriculum. And if childhood lasts a lifetime, then all of this has got to be for the purpose of lifelong physical activity.
In my conclusion I would just say to everybody here, the one thing that hopefully we all have in common, is to put the child first and I implore everyone around here to take the opportunity to break the cycle.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Primary School lead, Youth Sport Trust
To start, I like to look at what the premium was there for. It was introduced to provide additional and sustainable improvement to provision that was already in schools – and it’s important to remember those two words “additional” and “sustainable”. The additional is certainly in effect but the sustainable is where the question marks still lie. We know that the funding is there for the coming academic year but the challenge we have is to ensure that what we currently have is sustainable going forward should the funding not be there.
It’s also important to remind ourselves of the five key indicators that schools are supposed to use this funding for. Ourselves and others are concerned about the inappropriate use of the funding in some schools, as well as accountability around funding.
One of the five key indicators is engagement in regular exercise to meet CMO guidelines of 30 active minutes in each school day. A lot of schools are moving towards that but the challenges we’ve got there is what they are considering to be physical activity, and choices, and whether the choices are real or forced choices.
Next, raising the profile of physical education and sport in schools for whole-school improvement. That in itself is a challenge. We want PE as a core subject and a redefinition of what PE is about. Physical Education taught well can have a profound effect on a young person’s life, particularly when the focus is around the development of the whole person. Physical Education taught badly can have an extremely negative effect on a young person and could result in a negative attitude to the subject and towards physical activity. It’s really important that we get those qualified teachers back in there teaching, and that they are confident and competent in what they’re doing, which goes back to the quality of the teacher training and CPD that they do. Increasing their knowledge and understand of children and what children need and putting children at the heart of what we do is going to bring children in to enjoy the subject and want to participate in physical activity and sport from the positive experience they’ve had at school.
We’re seeing an increase in the range of activities, but as was mentioned before there’s a division between those who have and those who have not, and there’s a cost implication coming in too. Once that funding disappears, how are these activities going to be sustained? When we see schools spending the funding on a minibus to get children to a swimming competition, when the funding goes and the minibus disappears, do those children stop competing?
Where we at the Youth Sport Trust stand on this is that we are concerned about the lack of confidence in teachers, particularly in primary schools. It’s been our mission for the past four or five years working with over 6000 schools to try to improve the teaching of PE, but what we’re seeing now is a coach in front of those children delivering a PE lesson. It goes back to the question of what is physical education, what is physical activity and what is school sport? It’s important to define these areas and who is responsible for delivering them.
We’re concerned about CPD for teachers too. We train specialist primary PE teachers up and when they go into schools there’s no PE for them to teach because there’s a coaching company in delivering – and I say delivering because often it is not teaching.
We question again, what is PE all about? The work that we’re trying to do is to promote the fact that PE is more than just the teaching of physical skills: the physical is only one aspect of it. PE is about providing young people with the opportunities to develop their cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills in an active environment, through a wide range of different activities, challenges and experiences, where young people also learn about physical and mental well-being.
We’ve gone full circle when we regard physical education as being all about sport. That’s when teachers start fearing that they need to be a specialist in a field to be able to deliver it, but you don’t need a specialist teacher in rugby to deliver that in a primary space. We can leave that for further down the line. So at the Youth Sport Trust it’s all about redefining the subject and making sure it’s accessible for all teachers to be able to deliver confidently.
Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive Officer, Swim England
Swimming is a little bit different. It is part of the core curriculum but that has now led to masses of confusion about whether the premium can be used for swimming.
Swimming is expensive, in time and resources as well as money. There are far fewer school pools now so children have to be taken somewhere else, and that takes transport and time taken out of the learning environment, with a 20 minute lesson taking well over an hour. So that’s the problem, and the issue is whether we can use the school sport premium for this. As it’s a curriculum-based activity, it’s thought not, but you can use it for extra-curricular activity e.g. top-up lessons for those who don’t achieve their key stage two attainment. If you’re confused by now, think about the poor teachers wrestling with this.
The training is really important because we do offer bespoke training programmes for teachers, to teach them to teach swimming. It’s a short programme but it’s effective and it works – it follows our pathway but because teachers already have the teaching skills and they know how to deal with children we just have to teach them to teach swimming.
But the premium is a mystery – a complete mystery – as to how it can be used to benefit children learning to swim.
The other thing that concerns me is reporting. It’s important for us to have the data on who can swim: it is part of the curriculum and it should be reported, but schools tend not to, or it takes the form of a question at assembly: “put your hand up if you can swim!” That doesn’t help us at all because we need to know what else we need to do, where there are areas with a lack of pools, pathways out of it etc. We need that robust data, and we need schools not to be frightened to tell us that the system isn’t working, because it’s the system that isn’t working, not the school or the teacher.
We need to get the robust reporting and a better understanding of what they can use the premium for, and an understanding that every child everywhere should be able to swim, because it’s a gateway sport and a life skill.
Questions and Comments
Paul Wright, WRS: Asked questions about universities focussing on sports science and teaching elite sports, and whether that needs to change; also as RHE and PHSE are becoming core subjects, is there a way of putting them together?
Dr Gerald Griggs, University Campus of Football Business: In recent years there’s been a significant shift to aligning degree courses to an end point, e.g. if I do a degree in sports science, what is my job? It’s thought to be a sports scientist in a coach in an organisation – the focus is very much on the end point of the employment. As a result courses have changed to meet the needs of the various jobs and careers. In the case of sports science there’s more focus on (for example) biomechanics, physiology and psychology and pedagogy isn’t considered important at all. Using a degree in a broader way is becoming increasingly uncommon.
In terms of bringing things together, there has to be a win for all the different parts. If it makes things worse for anything then we shouldn’t do it.
Sheila Forster, Fitmedia: We’ve been having the conversation about what is sport? what is physical education? etc. for years. We still have children who are unfit. My concern is that if we worry too much about the defining the differences between sport, activity and PE, we’re going to have thousands of children go through sport again and they’ll still be unfit. We have children who don’t have basic movement skills and we need to focus on that instead of arguing amongst ourselves about definitions and so on. One other thing, we talk about coaches, trainers, teachers – the industry has fragmented in terms of who is doing what. I believe that some coaches are quite good while others are less so. There are a lot of organisations who are also fighting amongst each other. I hope that what comes out of this is something that really starts to challenge the PE premium and makes sure that it is spent appropriately and not hived off into other places.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England: Clarity is what is needed. It is far too complicated and needs simplifying. Schools need to be told “here is your money and this is what you can do with it and this is what you need to report on”. We know that 93% of children want to be active, but 23% of boys and 20% of girls are not even doing the CMO guidelines on activity, so there’s quite a discrepancy between what children want to do and what they are being able to do. So let’s make some very clear rules about how you can spend that money to give children the best kind of activities of choice.
Sheila Forster: But we need to say that as a collective: we need to tell Government not to let this money go to other things like fixing the roof.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: I will just comment on the separation because different areas involved different work-forces and it’s important that you have the right person delivering in the right place. Together they are very powerful – I’m not saying that we have one without the other, but we must have specific people who are qualified to work in those different areas.
Giles Platt, London & SE Primary PE Health and Wellbeing Development Association: Spoke about the failure of the current system, the contradictions in it and the need for core subject status and statutory time per week. The school sport partnership scheme is discredited and what we need at the moment is far more is integrity, transparency and effective external scrutiny.
One of the ways to easily fix this is to have schools using the PE premium mandatorily for an advisor to go in to every school in their borough to help them with effective planning and reporting. In that way effective information could be fed back to the DfE. I don’t know what the sports network have been doing for the past 5 years in terms of having this funding to inspect the quality – it just hasn’t been delivered.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: I think it goes back to the question of accountability. We’ve been back to the DfE on numerous occasions to challenge accountability and we know that 5% of schools were to be sampled during the summer term. A couple have been sampled but we haven’t had the feedback yet. We’ve been providing the DfE with case studies of good practice, but we aren’t getting far with the question of what happens if a school is found to be spending the money inappropriately. We do have examples of schools who have brought in consultants in the way you described, especially around the key indicator of raising the ethos of the school, but they are few and far between.
What makes a big difference is where there is a head teacher who is fully engaged in it, who is running with it and being challenged by the governors: in such case you see a good use of spend. But all too often it is given to curriculum leads who are often just a few years out of university with no experience of running a budget and no guidance.
Dr Sascha Colgan, GP: Is any work being done in schools to combat the influence of advertising and celebrity endorsements of unhealthy food and drink? It seems to me that so much good work is being undermined by dubious marketing practices.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: Behind the funding originally the Department of Health gave a key role to Jeremy Hunt in championing the premium funding to combat obesity, tooth decay, etc. At the same time the idea of “healthy schools” was around and we do see now an absence of fizzy drinks etc. in schools and a wider range of healthy options at lunchtime. In spite of all that children have far too many easy options on the streets, and we’ve seen a widening gap in society where for poorer families, unhealthy food is a quick and cheap way to feed the family. Some of the obesity stats are actually higher in wealthier areas where there are a lot of after-school clubs and activities because for some of them, unhealthy food is a quick and easy way to in between activities.
At the Youth Sport Trust what we’ve always wanted has been for DCMS, DoH and DfE to come together and agree a consistent message that goes across schools and sports competitions. We need to change the mindset of all our professionals and you’ve hit the nail on the head when our children’s role models are advertising these things, where do we go?
Jane Nickerson, Swim England: Yes, endorsements by role models is definitely bad, but there is another side of it too. Sponsorship is necessary a lot of the time. There are certain products that we would never take (alcohol or tobacco for example) but if Cadbury’s came to me with £3 million I would find it really difficult to say no. What I would do would be to tell children what is needed to work off that treat, e.g. here is your treat but this is the amount of swimming that will compensate for it. We’ve done some work about balance. We can’t say we’re not going to go for some products because we do need sponsorship and endorsements. Having said that, I am completely against celebrities advertising high-fat and high-sugar products on TV and in cinema.
Dr Gerald Griggs, University Campus of Football Business: Traditionally companies have sought out sports events and sports stars to legitimise their products, and they always will. When the law changes they find a way to continue elsewhere – abroad for example in the case of motor racing sponsorships.
I do have a small problem with the idea of role models being expected to behave in particular ways because very often they have not set themselves up as such. It’s more a case that we have put this status upon people and then expect them to conform to higher standards. There are complex tensions that go beyond education.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: I think we need to educate our children that they will be faced with choices and how to make informed decisions.
Dr Amanda Norman, University of Winchester: We work quite differently with early years children, nursery children and reception classes where the pupil premium doesn’t apply. Shouldn’t that change?
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: We have seen some schools using the premium for reception age children, in line the “whole school” improvement key indicator.
Dr Gerald Griggs, University Campus of Football Business: As I said earlier, I fail to see what is gained by separating the sections. I would start there and build up.
Merijin, University of Roehampton: I think it is very necessary to reclaim the terminology and to stress that physical education is very different from sport. PE should not be treated as an entry point to sport but as a part of education.
Charlotte Davies, Fit2Learn: I can produce research that shows well-established physical stages that children need to be at, at certain ages. I want to know why we are not checking these things in all our children.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: That is something we champion at YST in all our programmes. We absolutely have to get those fundamental movement skills right and we can’t move on until they are right. We practise and practise until they are there. The problem we have is that our national curriculum is that our teachers haven’t moved away from sports and they are still teaching single sports activities and not understanding the transfers of skills from one to another. We really have to go back to the basic 12 movements and we’ve done a lot of work on fundamental movement patterns and the basic movements that every child needs to be able to do to be a competent mover. They can then progress from there into whatever arena they go to. We absolutely champion this in everything we do and in every piece of CPD we offer.
Kathryn Sexton, Juka Dance: Agreed that the premium is good but the system is broken, and asked a question about ensuring how it is spent.
Kate Thornton-Bousfield, Youth Sport Trust: With another organisation, we were asked by DfE to do a template which is available to every single school. They are supposed to record what funds have been received, how they have chosen to use the funds, the impact it has had, and sustainability. That is what is supposed to have been sampled and we are pushing and pushing to ensure it gets done. Until there is accountability and it is looked at in the same way as progress is looked at, it won’t happen.
Further Question from Children’s Activity Association: It is said that they can’t afford to have a Secretary of State. I would suggest that we can’t afford not to. Childhood is fundamental to everything and we need someone to approach things in a joined-up way.
Baroness Benjamin: You are speaking to the converted. This is my mantra and my message to every minister and official I speak to.
The only way to get change (to get a Secretary of State) is to get to the Treasury. If the Treasury feels it’s worth making provisions to have an extra person, then we’ll get change. The next best thing is to campaign to every single Secretary of State and challenge them about what they are doing for children. We need to get everybody around that table to consider children whenever they make decisions. The way I got through was by doing just that over 20 years – by making sure every minister has a responsibility when they make a decision or formulate a policy. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do – it’s a moral duty to ask how everything we do affects children. So I am with you, but we need to be realistic and have a plan. If you want to get change you have to go on, and on, and on, and on.
Look at what’s happening to the adults in the world! We have to go on and on and on until Governments and policy makers and professionals and parents, and everyone, realise that childhood lasts a lifetime. We all have the responsibility to act and to show by example.
Baroness Benjamin thanked all the speakers and the members, and then the meeting closed at 7.15 pm.