We offered our services back to local primary schools a few weeks back and whilst only a small number of schools accepted our return for this academic year, our team have now acclimatised to new ways to deliver in this setting and are making a real difference to those young people.
A number of our Primary Stars team have returned to work and have developed a host of resources to utilise in schools, supporting class bubbles of 15 and making sure the young people maintain physical distance at all times, whilst engaging in quality PE and Physical Activity.
We have tried to utilise outdoor space at all times, which has been difficult when the weather hasn’t been great, and developed strict guidance for staff and risk assessments to follow for both our team members and the school. We take the safety of our staff and participants very seriously, but we also know how important it is to now try to bring back some activities and programmes back to our community, to improve their mental and physical health but also our long term sustainability.
A key feature of our sustainability plan for our schools work is the government School PE and Sport Premium, but there is a current lack of clarity around whether this funding stream for schools will continue. In the current agreement, primary schools are given specific funding to identify their needs to improve the standards of PE in their prospective schools.
We have in the past year had agreements in place with a large percentage of primary establishments in Blackpool to support with upskilling teachers, delivering high standard PE and developing strategic plans for the schools for the future. The issue here is schools have not been given any information yet if the funding will still be in place for the new academic year from September 2020.
We will keep staff in place, to potentially continue our support in September and are in regular contact with the individual schools, but a lack of clarity is very unhelpful to all, when I think many would struggle to argue that supporting young people in their return to schools through physical education and positive activity is essential. Hopefully we will receive information very soon.
This week we are also delivering a virtual Sports Day Challenge. Schools have been sent our video challenge and we will also have this going out on our own social media through the week for children in school to take part in our 20x20 challenge and also for children at home to link-in and take part and represent their schools.
Over the past two weeks we have also been working in partnership with BetterStart Blackpool, Active Blackpool and Westminster Academy to pilot a programme focused at our youngest children in schools to take part in physical and group activities in their local park. A range of activities have taken place on Claremont Park, and will continue for another three weeks, that focus on engaging in lots of activities. The idea here is to try a multi-agency approach to supporting children and potentially families in the summer across a host of parks.
We are also working very hard to develop our Summer plans, and are receiving lots of calls and messages about our very popular Sports Camps and other provisions. We are more frustrated than anyone to not be able to put our usual plans in place, but we have major hurdles to jump to be able to support in any way, which include the current government guidance, lack of available facilities to deliver sports activity and the restrictions on group sizes. Whilst this summer may look very different to normal, we will have some support in place very soon for the community and will return back to normal as soon as we can. Please bear with us.
Blackpool FC Community Trust CEO