School sport - primary

All children and young people will have the opportunity to participate and engage as fully as possible in all aspects of school or early learning and childcare life, including extracurricular activity.

Participation is also about addressing involvement in the wider school and local community; it is about feeling included as a peer, forming firm relationships and friendships and developing the skills for lifelong learning and success. Participation is full involvement in the life of the school through events, trips, school plays, sports and community events; it is about finding an avenue for children and young people to contribute and feel that their contribution is valued.

All opportunities to participate in the life of the school should be available to all pupils, including those requiring additional support, and these should be appropriately supported. 

School sport actions 

If your assessment tool has highlighted this as an area for improvement, here’s some simple actions your school sport committee can add to their action plan: 

Increase the number of sport and physical activity clubs being offered 

  • Do a ‘stock take’ of all the clubs that are currently up and running in the school. Are there any year groups that have no clubs available? This could be an area to look at.
  • Ask members of the committee to survey these year groups, is there a particular sport or physical activity that pupils would like to see being set up?
  • Work with your Active Schools Coordinator to recruit volunteers that could run these clubs.
  • Clubs could be run before, during or after school to ensure there is enough variety for everyone
  • P1-P3 clubs can sometimes be a challenge. Games and multi-sport clubs can be good options here to build fundamental skills and enjoyment
  • Extra clubs could be run during lunchtime by senior pupils. Connect with your local secondary schools, or run young sports leader training for the senior classes, from which the pupils could run playground based activities under the supervision of a member of school staff.

Are there free extracurricular clubs for every pupil at the point of participation?

  • It’s important that there is at least one free extracurricular club available for every pupil. Volunteers to run these clubs could be teachers, parents, carers or even older siblings. 
  • Active Schools Monitoring shows statistics for the number of children participating in sport. Use this to understand the demographic of pupils participating and what support those not participating might need.  

Increase pupil participation 

  • Work with your Active Schools Coordinator to help look at the pupils involved in extracurricular activities, this can be done through Active Schools Monitoring information. Is it the same pupils attending clubs? Are there pupils attending clubs in the community? Are there any pupils that don’t attend any clubs? By using this data, you will be able to target individuals who may be inactive and look at clubs/activities they may be interested in. This allows Active Schools, schools and partners the opportunity to provide more targeted and better opportunities for children and young people.
  • Take the time to do an in-depth data collection. You can use a simple example like this: Simple pupil survey.docx
  • increase attendance at school sport club sessions with ‘Sports Club Loyalty cards’
  • Create a sports noticeboard: Give a yearly overview of all sports clubs available each term. Display by colour and visual aids to ensure all children, parents and staff are aware of clubs available. 
  • Ensure children can share their views on the sports clubs they attend. This could be written on a sticky note at the end or something as simple as throwing a ball into a bucket with different labels on them with emotions of how the club made them feel.  
  • Look at structuring the school clubs differently. Shorter blocks mean you can get a better variety of activity as well as being able to offer opportunities across all ages and stages. 
  • Parent/carer and child activities can be great for younger pupils. If your school has nursery staff, look at being able to provide creche facilities for younger siblings to help single parent families. 
  • Create a survey to identify young people who are inactive in the school. From this, set up focus groups and identify activities that would entice the young people to take part. 
  • Collaborate with your Active Schools Coordinator to understand gaps in provision  

School sport examples in practice 

Gathering and using whole school data

Completing whole school data collections has become an annual occurrence within some schools, and in particular clusters. Using the data has provided an opportunity to speak with senior management, PE and PEPAS about understanding each school and its individuals better. This should allow Active Schools, schools and partners the opportunity to provide better opportunities for the young people within the cluster. Data can be collected through Survey Monkey, with the support of senior pupils within the secondary school.

The data can be collected on iPads by the pupils during the day and allows the secondary school and primaries to be in dialogue around their school sport offering. Using the data collected allows the schools to effectively complete their School Sport Award self-assessment and focus on areas for improvement 

PE and school sport whole school approach 

A small primary school aligned all the curriculum and Active schools programmes together. This included a stage-by-stage curriculum plan that every teacher was provided with, this plan included everything health and wellbeing that the school would be doing. Planning meant every pupil was getting high quality and consistent input within the classroom that they could then continue into an after-school and community setting. This encourages a whole school approach from PE right through to the competitions the school enters. 

Using action planning to increase participation

At the start of the academic year, we used the School Sport Award development plan to set goals for the year which included increasing the number of extracurricular activities offered. We provided an example of good practice regarding an extracurricular timetable and then worked with the school to identify coaches and staff who could lead sports activities throughout the year. We also linked these to school sport competitions where possible.

This has led to a large increase in the number of extracurricular opportunities available with participant sessions increasing and in addition, the number of distinct participants has increased. The whole school have now taken on a culture for sports participation with staff actively encouraging pupils to participate as well as organising events such as a parent v staff basketball game in order to raise funds for PE and School Sport. 


Introducing a morning club 

A morning club was revamped and implemented by our Health and Wellbeing pupil voice group. They believe that exercise before school improves activeness and concentration in class. Teachers volunteered to give up their free time to promote and support the importance of participation in physical activity before school. The Health and Wellbeing pupil voice group created a timetable for teachers to show when they were responsible for encouraging our sports leaders in the delivery of the morning club.> 

Whole school approach to planning 

As a school we met with the school deputy head, principal teacher and the parent council regarding the extracurricular activity being offered. Meetings and discussions took place regarding the clubs currently on offer, and how they were advertised and supported. Using the School Sport Award self-assessment we realised although the sporting activities on offer were good, they lacked proper links to sports clubs and organisations. The partnership with Active Schools was strengthened by understanding the role the Active Schools Coordinator can play in increasing the number of extra-curricular clubs by the relationships they have with community clubs.> 

Pupils can encourage teachers to volunteer

Primary schools can struggle to get pupils and staff to commit to extracurricular activity due to a number of different barriers. To improve this, a school recruited a school sports committee that includes pupils, parents & teachers collectively to come up with a strategy to improve outcomes for learners through sport and physical activity. The school recognised that pupils would make greater strides in learning if they are happier and healthier and they believed they could do this through sport and extra-curricular school clubs.

By encouraging teachers to volunteer their time to run an extra-curricular club and linking in with local community clubs, the school now have an extra-curricular sports club on every day and tries to cater for everyone in the school. The clubs range from dance, football, gymnastics, fitness and basketball. Their distinct participant figures have risen, with nearly all of the school taking part in some form of extracurricular activity. The school have also introduced parent/carer and child activities involving parents/carers & pupils taking part in physical activity together along with a local coach, this integrates pupils and parents together and helps build better relationships between parents and the school. 

Date published: 24 July 2023
Date updated: 24 July 2023


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