Inclusive sports programme boosts daily exercise for children with SEND

Emily Harle
Tuesday, May 23, 2023

More than a third of schools which took part in the the first year of an inclusive sports programme saw an increase in the number of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) achieving an hour of daily exercise, according to the Youth Sport Trust.

Inclusion 2024 drives an increase in daily exercise levels of children with SEND. Picture: Youth Sport Trust
Inclusion 2024 drives an increase in daily exercise levels of children with SEND. Picture: Youth Sport Trust

Inclusion 2024, a three-year programme launched in 2021, aims to empower schools to help others around the country make PE and school sports offers more inclusive.

More than 70,000 young people have benefitted from the programme’s first year of delivery, according to recent data from the Youth Sports Trust.

Two thirds of participating schools said that pupils with SEND are achieving 30 minutes of activity per day, with more than a third reporting an increase in the proportion of children with SEND achieving 60 minutes of physical activity.

This is higher than the 20 minutes of daily activity that is recommended for children with SEND by the chief medical officer.

Through the programme, 14,616 young people – 86 per cent of whom have SEND – had the chance to try para sports such as basketball and curling, and experience a Paralympic or Commonwealth Games inspired festival.

The data also shows that 49,816 young people received lifesaving skills through the Inclusion 2024 programme, and 6,411 young people with SEND began learning how to swim and were taught key water safety advice.

Some 1,417 young people – 38 per cent with SEND – were also trained on a youth leadership pathway through the programme, which gave them the skills to lead inclusive sports sessions.

The programme was funded by the Department for Education, and has been delivered by the Youth Sport Trust on behalf of the Inclusion 2024 consortium, which includes the Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, Nasan and Swim England.

Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, said: “It’s hugely important that every child, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, can benefit from a world class education.

“I’m pleased that the Inclusion 2024 programme, led by the Youth Sport Trust, is helping pupils with SEND achieve their potential by increasing their opportunities to take part in PE and school sport.”

Ali Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, added that the programme has been a “game-changer”.

She said: “It has built capacity, confidence and creativity in the PE and school sport system – ensuring both the curriculum and out of school hours provision is accessible, inclusive and empowering for children.

“Alongside this, Inclusion 2024 has been building awareness and understanding in young disabled and non-disabled people through inclusive youth leadership training and peer-to-peer coaching.”

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