Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Surely this isn't what my Grandad was referring to?!

On the 25th October 2018, guidance was issued from the DfE regarding the PE & Sport premium for primary schools in the 2018/19 academic year.

My Grandad used to say something about closing the stable door after the horse had bolted.  I kind of think this was what he may have been talking about!

After an initial review of the document, there is very little change from the 2017/18 document.  The amount of funding and dates that the payments are received by schools has remained the same.

Indeed, there are only really 4 main differences in the 2018/19 document, but the last one is crucial.

  • Clearer guidance around school swimming requirements.
  • Confirmation that the premium cannot be spent on capital expenditure.
  • A clearer purpose for the premium - The premium must be used to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport, for the benefit of primary-aged pupils, in the 2018 to 2019 academic year, to encourage the development of healthy, active lifestyles.
  • A change in the date that schools must publish details of their spending on the website

Number 4 on this list is my major concern, and here’s why.

The new guidance advises school that whilst reporting requirements remain the same, the date that this information needs to be placed on the school’s website moves from April to or the end of the school’s summer term, or the 31st July 2019 at the latest.

So, basically, at the end of the academic year we have to document what we have spent the funding on and the impact it has had.  What incentive does that give us to review our plan and amend it where needed?

What happens if we create the document in the summer term and find out that, actually, our funding has made no impact at all?

I have literally worked with dozens of subject leaders over the last 2 years who have struggled to effectively review their existing PE & School Sport provision to identify the areas of improvement required for their school.  We have worked tirelessly with them to review their existing curriculum, provision and quality of teaching and then plan HOW that can be improved.  We then ascertain how we can monitor that improvement and make sure that the spending they make makes an IMPACT onto their staff and pupils.  Finally, we make sure that everything they invest their money in (note it is an investment in the future, not just a spend), is sustainable for years to come.

We work backwards – What is your vision for the school? Where do you want to be towards that vision at the end of this academic year? Where are you as a school now? Finally, how do we get from where you are now to where you want to be at the end of the year?

Yes, this is hard work.  Yes, it requires some time for the subject leader to do this properly.  But it ensures that if tracked correctly, schools are not wasting this valuable money.

I could give you a list of horror stories about school spending and how wasteful some of it is.  My particular favourite is the Sports Coaches that are brought in year on year to ‘improve teacher’s knowledge and skill’.  When does that stop? When are the teachers suitably skilled? When does the teacher get the opportunity to teach on their own without that support blanket?

If you had the same driving instructor for 4 years and hadn’t passed your test, would you still use them?

It is incredibly important that the impact of the spending is tracked.  We have invested THOUSANDS of pounds in automating the tracking of the TLG-PE schools PE & Sport Funding Report.  Why? Because we know how time consuming it is for teachers to do this manually and we know how imperative it is that it is completed.  You don’t just stop tracking it because time is the issue.  You find a solution and if you can’t find one, you create one.

My fear is that schools will receive their £16000 (plus £10 per child) and not plan the spending properly.  Many schools will of course, but many won’t.  The guidance clearly states that schools must use the finding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of physical education (PE), physical activity and sport you offer.

How do you do that without properly planning your spending? How do you track your improvements without monitoring this throughout the academic year? 

Money will be spent and impact will not be tracked.  Schools will then remember later in the year that something needs to go on their website and will create something accordingly.  What value will that document really have?

Interestingly, the guidance says the following with regards to school compliance reviews:

We will sample a number of schools in each local authority to review what they have published on their use of funding and their swimming attainment.  Schools are expected to spend their grant for the purpose it was provided only; to make additional and sustainable improvements to the PE, sport and physical activity offered.

When will this sample take place?

We are assuming that as the publication does not need to happen until the 31st July 2019 that it will be after that.  So, are we saying that these schools will be sampled in the 2019/20 academic year for money they spent in 2018/19?  That is certainly the way it reads.

TLG-PE will continue to advise its schools to fully audit their PE and school sport provision every September and plan their spending to ensure maximum impact for their staff and pupils in the most sustainable way possible.  We will also advise our schools to have this on their website for viewing from October half term and for the impact of that spending to be automatically tracked through the information they enter into their TLG-PE account.  We will continue to review this data with subject leaders to ensure that their school gets the maximum return on the money it has invested.








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