Thousands of children with and without special educational needs (SEND) have been supported to experience PE and school sport thanks to a consortium of organisations led by the Youth Sport Trust and The Department for Education (DfE).
Over the last six months as a result of the pandemic, demand for support from schools to ensure they can access and deliver inclusive PE, sport and physical activity for their pupils with SEND has soared.
But a successful programme, funded by the DfE, has supported schools to reach children with SEND by adapting delivery, and giving teachers increased confidence in teaching meaningful and inclusive sport and PE, in line with the Government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan.
Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “Physical education is a key element of every child’s education, which is why schools should be inclusive environments where all children, including those with special education needs and disabilities, benefit from being physically active.
“PE helps children build friendships, bolsters their development and supports resilience. The Inclusion 2020 programmes will give many more children the opportunity to participate in para-sports and help develop important skills for life.”
The programme sees a network of lead inclusion schools, each recognised as visionaries for what meaningful and inclusive PE and school sport should look like for every child, working directly with young people, parents and other schools to increase opportunities for young people with SEND to enjoy Physical Education, school sport and physical activity and learn life skills.
With less than a year to go until the Tokyo Paralympics, Inclusion 2020 has already supported 10,317 young people (65% with SEND) to try para-sports and upskilled more than 10,000 teachers and coaches in inclusive practice from 5,042 schools in England since it started in 2017.
Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said: “Taking part in fun and inclusive sport and play unlocks so many life benefits. It improves wellbeing, increases confidence and a sense of belonging. It can help forge friendships and foster inclusive and respectful environments within schools.
“We know through research that children are most influenced by their peers and so a key part of Inclusion 2020 with this renewed funding has been making sure we are empowering and training thousands of young people to support their peers.
“They are the next generation and by supporting young people with and without SEND to be advocates, we can ensure that having special educational needs or a disability is no barrier when it comes to benefitting from high-quality PE, sport and physical activity. Young People will be the legacy of this programme and ahead of Tokyo 2021, we want to build excitement and inspire children and young people.”
Read more at youthsporttrust.org.