16th July 2019, 16:51 | therfl

The RFL welcomes new School Sport Action Plan

The RFL welcomes new School Sport Action Plan

Rugby Football League CEO Ralph Rimmer writes... 

On behalf of the Rugby Football League and the sport of Rugby League, I'm delighted to welcome the School Sport and Activity Action Plan - and urge all players, administrators and supporters of all our professional and community clubs to get behind it. 

This is such an important area, for public health both mental and physical, and is one in which sport should be playing a leading role. 

The Action Plan, outlined this weekend by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Mims Davies (Minister for Sport abd Civil Society) and Seema Kennedy (Minister for Public Health), sets out plans to strengthen the role of sport in the school day.

The Action Plan 'aims for 60 minutes sport and physical activity' a day. We believe this should be a firm commitment, for all children, in all schools - and it should be measured in the same way that reading and writing and numeracy is measured. We want to see Ofsted valuing sport in the curriculum when it assesses schools so we welcome the new Inspection Framework. 

We know from Sport England's Active Lives Children and Young People survey that a third of children do fewer than 30 minutes sport/physical activity a day. This should be a huge concern for us as a nation.

We are looking with interest at the Government's commitment in the Action Plan to launch regional pilot projects from 2020 to get more young people active, especially those who are less likely to engage in sport including some girls, and many boys and girls from disadvantaged communities.

Rugby League has a proven track record in engaging children and young people in areas of social and economic disadvantage and our RL Foundations already deliver innovative programmes to appeal to all children whatever their ability or interest in sport. 

We would hope that some of the new satellite clubs Sport England has announced for the least advantaged young people will be in the hinterlands of our clubs and Foundations, so that young people and their teachers can be supported and inspired by the best community and professional clubs.

The Rugby Football League has long supported the opening up of school and other community facilities out of school hours and in the holidays. School-based clubs, satellite clubs and a commitment to fair, shared use is a vital part of the community sport facilities mix. The funding from the Department for Education for PE teacher training, opening up schools, and more support for young volunteers is welcome but to achieve even greater impacts for more young people the sport sector needs more investment.

Sport is an essential public good. It can engage all children in a way that is right for them, making a huge contribution to their physical and mental wellbeing, confidence and sense of self.

Sport is exceptional value for public money and school sport is where all children can be reached. It needs to be supported better. As we join with other leading sports in welcoming the School Sport Action Plan we also emphasise the need to continue and extend the sugar tax which is partly funding school sport; and we urge government to continue to invest in schools, teachers and facilities directly.

In summary, the Rugby Football League would like to see joined-up Government do the following: 

  • Commit to one hour a day for children to play sport and be active
  • Fund more Rugby League satellite clubs in areas of disadvantage
  • Fund the opening of school facilities after school and in the holidays
  • Fund support for PE teachers and non-specialist teachers to introduce a wider variety of sport to more children
  • Extend the sugar tax with monies raised committed to school sport