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Thousands of children enjoy sport through Inclusion 2020 programme

Thousands of children with and without special educational needs (SEND) have been supported to experience PE and school sport thanks to a consortium of organisations led by the Youth Sport Trust and The Department of Education (DfE).

Young boy playing boccia with teacher and supporter
  • 10,317 young people (65% with SEND) experienced para-sports inspired by the Paralympic Games 
  • More than 10,000 teachers and coaches upskilled in inclusive practice 

In the last six months particularly, as a result of the pandemic, demand for support from schools to ensure they can access and deliver inclusive PE, sport and physical activity for their pupils with SEND has soared. But a successful programme, funded by The DfE, has supported schools every step of the way to reach children with SEND by adapting its delivery, and giving teachers increased cinfidence in teaching meaningful and inclusive sport and PE, in line with the Government's School Sport and Activity Action Plan.

With a fresh focus on supporting children self-isolating at home and those within a bubble at school, Inclusion 2020 gives children with and without SEND the opportunity to experience a variety of para-sports like new age kurling and seated volleyball, the chance to compete, and comprehensive training for teachers. 

Schools Standards Minister, Nick Gibb said:  

"Physical education is a key element of every child’s education, which is why schools should be inclusive environments where all children, including those with special education needs and disabilities, benefit from being physically active.
"PE helps children build friendships, bolsters their development and supports resilience. The Inclusion 2020 programs will give many more children the opportunity to participate in para-sports and help develop important skills for life." 

The programme sees a network of lead inclusion schools, each recognised as inclusion champions and visionaries for what high quality, meaningful and inclusive PE and school sport should look like for every child, working directly with young people, parents and other schools to increase opportunities for young people with SEND to enjoy Physical Education, school sport and physical activity and learn life skills.  

With less than a year to go until the Tokyo Paralympics, Inclusion 2020 has already supported 10,317 young people (65% with SEND) to try para-sports inspired by the Paralympic Games and upskilled more than 10,000 teachers and coaches in inclusive practice from 5,042 schools in England since it started in 2017. 

Over the next six months, the programme will see: 

  • 20 virtual learning and discovery festivals to enthuse children and staff about para-sports and provide opportunities to take part. The virtual festivals are aimed to support children at home, children within a bubble, and children accessing school sport in the usual way. Resources developed with inclusion experts and aligned to government social distancing guidelines, are available to Inclusion 2020 schools.
  • The development of a youth voice toolkit which builds on the training young people receive to advocate inclusive sport in their schools. The toolkit will ensure the views of young people with SEND are heard and ensure PE, sport and physical activity adapts to new routines and structures as a result of the virus. 

Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive, Ali Oliver said: 

"Taking part in fun and inclusive sport and play unlocks so many life benefits. It improves wellbeing, increases confidence and a sense of belonging. It can help forge friendships and foster inclusive and respectful environments within schools.  
"We know through research that children are most influenced by their peers and so a key part of Inclusion 2020 with this renewed funding has been making sure we are empowering and training thousands of young people to support their peers. 
"They are the next generation and by supporting young people with and without SEND to be advocates, we can ensure that having special educational needs or a disability is no barrier when it comes to benefitting from high-quality PE, sport and physical activity. Young People will be the legacy of this programme and ahead of Tokyo 2021, we want to build excitement and inspire children and young people." 

More than 2,530 young people across the country have been empowered to deliver inclusive sport to their peers and learn new skills through sport. 

The consortium of organisations part of Inclusion 2020 includes Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, Nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs), Youth Sport Trust and Swim England. Parents and young people are also part of the consortium group. 

For more information on Inclusion 2020 and to read programme’s insight report please visit Inclusion 2020 page on Youth Sport Trust website.