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The Opening School Facilities Fund impact in Sussex

The Opening School Facilities Fund impact in Sussex

The Opening School Facilities Fund was provided by the Department for Education via Sport England to help children and young people to return to physical activity as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in Summer 2021. Active Sussex made 50 grants totalling £204,098 with an average grant size of £4,082.

There were 141 activities funded in schools targeting 8,160 pupils who face barriers to activity. Activities could target more than one group. 129 of these activities targeted pupils on Free School Meals and 97 targeted pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Schools with swimming pools were also supported with the costs of reopening swimming pools.

An additional 63 activities were provided for children and adults in the community to make use of school facilities. These activities were made available for an estimated 6,532 children and young people and 276 adults.

We have received the goals we ordered and they are great, the students and members of the community have already commented on how much of an impact they will have. This has enabled increased levels of football to be offered to not only our students but the surrounding community as well.

– The Eastbourne Academy 

The Eastbourne Academy football

The boxing equipment here has gone down really well! we currently have 30 students across all year groups taking part in a club. We are running a lunch time club and a after school club it’s been that popular. We have also seen students who are normally disengaged in PE taking part again as they have really enjoyed the boxing.

– Uplands Community College

Challenges in targeting

Most schools did not find it challenging to match pupils to the groups they were targeting. However, it was harder to recruit these pupils to their first session and keep them coming back to sessions. The majority of schools said that either or both recruitment or retention were somewhat or very challenging.

The project has gone really well for us, we have been able to fund 23 disadvantaged pupils to participate in evening/weekend sports that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do.

The biggest challenge for us was stabilising numbers in the first weeks, lots dropped out or kept forgetting to attend. The clubs were really flexible so this didn’t impact funding, both schools were also really helpful, contacting parents to remind them and prompting students. We ended up with a smaller group than originally planned but they have been committed and attend regularly.

– Durrington High School

What factors affected how to invest the funds?

The facilities available at a school were the biggest factor in deciding which activities to run with the funding. What pupils wanted more of was the second biggest factor.  The availability of coaches, and what has worked before were also factors in some schools.

Chichester High School girls playing basketball

Which of the following will ensure that the investment continues to support the least active pupils to be more active beyond this term?

Most schools are able to continue using the equipment purchased, ensuring the grant will have an impact beyond the initial funding period. Most schools either already have in place or are considering other measures such as using pupil premium funding, charging small session fees, reciprocal arrangements with clubs and training up young leaders to ensure the activities can continue.

All has gone extremely well thanks to the support provided. Sessions are continuing throughout the year and the equipment purchased has helped our school to offer greater after school provision for our vulnerable pupils, increasing participation.

– Saxon Mount Special School

If there was a future round of Opening Schools Facilities funding, what would you wish for it to fund in your school?

The priority for most schools for future funding is other staffing such as security and maintenance staff, as well as staff members or a booking system to manage bookings.

To find out more about the work we do with Sussex schools and the current funding opportunities, visit our Children and Young People webpages.

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