New Government funding to help schools open sports facilities

Sport England is investing £10.1m of government money to help more schools open their facilities to the public once the coronavirus pandemic eases. 

The move should provide a much-needed boost for basketball clubs which rely heavily on the education sector for facilities.  

Basketball England is encouraging clubs and local leagues to liaise with partner facility providers to encourage them to access the funding where appropriate. 

The funding, which has been provided by the Department for Education, is in addition to the £1.5m awarded as part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan announced in July 2019 and will help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays. 

Sport England will work with the nationwide network of Active Partnerships – locally based organisations that specifically focus on getting people in their areas involved in sport and physical activity – to distribute the funding. 

Charlie Ford, Basketball England Interim chief operating officer, said: 

“The new £10.1m government fund to help schools open their facilities to the public is a huge step forward in the recovery and return of sport and physical activity. 

“The education sector plays such a vital role in providing facilities for 95% of our affiliated basketball clubs and partner organisations.

“Prior to the national lockdown, a large number of our clubs were forced to find alternative venues and, in some cases, had to cancel sessions completely due to venue availability. We would urge all of our clubs to raise awareness of the fund with their venue providers as we all start to plan for returning to the court once the lockdown measures end and we return to the tier system.” 

The money will help more children and young people return to sport and physical activity as soon as it's safe to do so. 

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England chief executive, said: 

“Schools play a vital role in keeping young people active and the pandemic has had a huge impact on their ability to open up their facilities,” he explained. 

“With this new investment, Active Partnerships will provide support and funding for their local schools so they can open after school and during the school holidays, providing more sports clubs and activity facilities to children and the wider community.” 

This new funding will help Active Partnerships to support their local schools to understand the challenges in opening their facilities in a Covid-secure manner and could include helping them to buy new equipment for sports and activities, as well as arranging additional cleaning and clear signage to help maintain social distancing. 

BE will be looking to engage with the Active Partnerships network to help identify areas of need.