School sport participation survey

A survey of teachers, school games organisers and school sport partnerships staff

Key findings

Falling participation since the loss of ring-fenced funding for School Sports Partnerships

  • Over two thirds (68%) of School Games Organisers and School Sport Partnership staff surveyed reported a decrease in sports participation since ring-fenced funding ended in 2011.
  • A third of primary and secondary school teachers (34% and 35% respectively) reported that there had been a decrease in participation.
  • The main reasons mentioned for those who indicated decreased levels of participation were a lack of funding and as a consequence pressure on time. This was impacting the ability of schools to run sports clubs, competitions and events and therefore resulted in fewer opportunities for participation.
  • Those who were able to maintain or increase levels of participation cited longer working days, their school’s commitment to sport and continued collaboration. There were concerns from some, however, about how sustainable this will be.

Old versus new funding system

SGO and SSP staff were asked whether they preferred the former system (ring-fenced funding of School Sport Partnerships) to the new one (PE Teacher Release, non-ringfenced funding for School Sport Partnerships and School Games):

  • 88% stated the old system was better.

Teachers were asked about the impact of the change in the funding system on provision of PE and sport:

  • 36% of primary school teachers surveyed reported a worsening of spprt in their school under the new system, 48% said it had stayed the same and 16% it had improved;
  • 37% of secondary school teachers surveyed reported a worsening of sport in their school under the new system, 55% said it had stayed the same, and 8% said it had improved.
  • A large number of respondents from schools thought that money earmarked for PE teacher release was actually being spent to that end. However, a significant number reported that only some or none of the money was being used to release teachers (68% and 58% of respective responses from primary and secondary school teachers).
  • The results therefore suggest that there has been a significant loss of funding channelled into school sport.

School Games and School Sport Partnerships 

  • Whilst a majority of teachers who responded to the survey are signed up for School Games a significant minority, especially those who were primary school teachers (42%), stated they were not.
  • The majority of respondents reported that their School Sports Partnerships had remained in place after ring-fenced funding had ended:
    •    However, a significant minority of primary school teachers (28%) and secondary school teachers (34%) surveyed reported that they were no longer a part of a School Sport Partnership; and
    •    Two thirds (64%) of School Games Organiser and School Sport Partnership staff who’s SSP had continued reported that at least one school which previously was a member of the retained School Sport Partnership had left.
  • Those schools who reported that they were registered for School Games were more likely to be part of a School Sport Partnership than the average.

Views on sport in schools

  • Over 90% believe that non-competitive physical activities must be encouraged alongside competitive activities.
  • 97% agreed that schools should have a minimum target of two hours PE and Sport a week.
  • 69% agreed that schools should be required to monitor participation and make the information available to parents.
  • 95% agreed that physical activity improves educational attainment.
  • Under half of respondents (47%) agreed that a strategy focused on competitive sport will inspire inactive children to engage in sport and PE.

Published by The Smith Institute. This report represents the views of those surveyed and not those of the Smith Institute


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