How can your school benefit from the first UK staged Olympics since 1948? Gill O’Donnell explains what financial funding support is available to help prepare you

With the handover of the Olympic flag in Beijing, Britain now becomes the focus of sporting attention for the next four years in the run-up to London 2012. So what exactly does this mean for your school and individual pupils, and what additional funding might be available to promote sport more widely in your school as a result of the Olympics?

At national level, plans are already well under way – but perhaps this is an appropriate time to consider how your school can benefit from the staging of the Olympics (and Paralympics) in the UK for the first time since 1948. The Department for Children, School and Families (DCSF) contains the following statement in a publication on its website.

‘We want 2012 to inspire you to take part in sport, exercise and healthy living. Even if you’ve never done anything like that before. Join in and do what you can!’

Secondary Age 2012 Education Leaflet

Practical support for sport
This is very laudable, but how does this translate into practical terms in schools? The first step has been the production of two leaflets aimed at primary and secondary schools which are now available to order online from the DCSF website (go to These outline ways in which schools and individual pupils can become more involved in the build-up to 2012 and can benefit beyond the actual games themselves.

One example of how this is already starting to be felt in schools is the ‘Primary Playgrounds 4 Sport’ initiative. The Youth Sport Trust, The Football Association, The Lawn Tennis Association, The Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board are currently working in partnership to promote structured play at primary school level.

The scheme allows schools to invest in simple playground markings for a minimal outlay, and for the above-named sports creates the opportunity to form links with primary schools and local sports clubs.

The Youth Sports Trust has developed a full playground resource, which illustrates a series of steps to support schools with the development, redesign and improvement of their playground, from involving the children to training key staff and monitoring the new playground’s impact.

Further details of this initiative are available at: The website also contains links to funding sources for football and playground-linked sporting developments. Further ideas on how to use the zoneparc model to reorganise your playground activities are available at:

At secondary level the focus is somewhat different, with the emphasis on getting everyone involved in healthy living, not just holding large-scale events.

In 2007, the government launched the National School Pedometer Programme, and 45,000 pedometers were donated to schools to encourage children to become more active. The pilot ‘Schools on the Move’ programme found that pupils of all fitness levels responded well to the challenge of finding out how far they had walked, and that using a pedometer encouraged even those who were normally less active to do more exercise. In 2008-09 the project will be extended to include indoor rowing, using rowing machines. Further details about the project can be found at:

On more traditionally sporting lines, the annual UK School Games is a multi-sport event for the UK’s elite young athletes of school age. This year’s event took place in August in Bristol and Bath, with over 1,500 athletes competing in a programme that included athletics, badminton, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, swimming, table tennis and volleyball, along with an integrated programme of disability events in athletics, swimming and table tennis.

The games take place over four days and aim to replicate the feel of a major event. The aim in the years leading up to 2012 is to gradually expand the number of sports involved, and develop regional and local competitions that will build up to the UK Schools Games; so by 2012, tens of thousands of young people all over Britain will have had the chance to take part or help out in running these games.

Funding eligibility
On a practical funding level, Sport England is committed to creating an active nation through sport. Its regional funding stream is the Community Investment Fund (CIF). An open application process is also operated on a first-come first-served basis by matching new and additional private investment with the National Sport Foundation (NSF) funding to encourage community sporting activity. It is therefore more appropriate for schools to work as part of a community group in this form of bid for funding.

The NSF budget in 2008/09 is accessible to a wide range of organisations with no ring-fenced allocation made; there is £7.67m available to eligible applications in 2008/09. All projects applying in 2008/09 will need to ensure that their project is able to spend and deliver their entire grant funding by 31 March 2009.

Eligible applications will be assessed on the quality of information provided and the ability to meet the following NSF and Sport England objectives:

  • Grow – increasing regular participation in sport and working with Youth Sport Trust to enable young people to access at least five hours of sport a week.
  • Sustain – sustaining current participation in sport by ensuring participants enjoy a quality experience, and reducing the drop-off in involvement among 16- to 18-year-olds.
  • Excel – developing and assisting talent and by investing in individual sports to ensure that talented performers move onto elite programmes and sporting success.

Particular interest will be shown to projects that favour under-represented groups such as young people, women and girls, people with disabilities, minority ethnic communities and economically disadvantaged groups. For further details, study the website at

Young Ambassadors
As well as actually taking part in events as athletes, a key part of the philosophy behind the games is to encourage young people to engage in volunteering at major sports events as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle.

One means of doing so is the Youth Sport Trust Young Ambassadors programme, which aims to encourage young people to promote sport, healthy living and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in their schools and communities, and inspire participation by others.

The programme has now been under way for a year and 50% of the Young Ambassadors have been selected due to their performance in sport (gifted and talented) and 50% due to their commitment and ability as a leader and volunteer. Young Ambassadors are between 14 and 18 years old and undertake the role for a two-year period.

From 2010, the programme will also include a support programme, run in association with the London 2012 Committee, for selected gifted and talented pupils from deprived areas, to encourage them to act as ambassadors at the 2012 Olympic Games themselves. The Youth Sport Trust website has full details of the programme, along with details of several awards:

  • the Innovation Awards
  • the Development Awards
  • National Development Award for Special Schools.

The annual Innovation Awards recognise new and exciting ideas being developed by sports colleges and academies with sport-related specialisms across the country, with the aim of enhancing the delivery of PE and school sport. These awards are judged across six categories. Also announced annually, the Development Awards recognise the work of school sport partnerships and the ways in which PE and school sport can be developed to engage young people and assist with the development of life-skills across seven categories of award. In 2007 they were judged across seven categories.

Sporting enrichment
The Youth Sport Trust website also contains details of the Junior Athlete Education (JAE) programme, which works with teachers, parents and coaches to maximise the potential of talented young sportspeople.

The Youth Sport Trust also runs a multi-skill academy for gifted and talented eight to 12-year-olds to develop core skills such as movement, coordination, agility, body awareness and thinking skills, plus multi-skill clubs for seven- to 12-year-olds to encourage them to take part in a wide range of sporting activities outside school hours.

Schools that already know they have very able athletes among their gifted and talented cohort should be aware of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). This is a government-funded programme which exists to foster a partnership between sport and higher and further education, and assist in the development of Britain’s sporting stars of the future.

Its aim is to provide athletes with a package tailored to meet their individual needs and which will supply services such as coaching, strength and conditioning training, talented-athlete lifestyle support, physiotherapy and sports medicine. It will assist with competition and training expenses while balancing the needs of their sport with maintaining academic achievement.

TASS athletes do not receive any direct financial award, but can access sporting services through TASS-accredited universities, colleges, schools and the sport’s national governing body.

A TASS award is usually made annually at the start of the academic year, and runs from 1 October to 30 September, with selected athletes receiving sporting services to the value of £3,500 per annum. They can continue to receive the awards as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. TASS also has special 2012 Scholarships for athletes who have demonstrated exceptional sporting talent.

Youngsters who have been identified by the national governing board of their sport can apply for awares to the value of £10,000 per annum.

Details of the two award schemes can be found at:

Sport for leadership
The importance of sport as a means of developing leadership skills is the main focus of the British Council’s Dreams and Teams Programme. This has been in operation since 2001 and helps to develop young people’s leadership skills through sport, alongside an understanding of other cultures. It currently operates in 45 countries. Pairs of partner schools cooperate over a fixed period of time – approximately three years in most cases.

The thinking behind the project is that young leaders are challenged to make a difference by ‘thinking global, acting local’. Details can be found at

Undoubtedly, over the next four years there will be many more sporting-themed opportunities arising, and it is always worth checking out local initiatives and the current initiatives being undertaken by national governing bodies of the various Olympic sports, for new ideas and funding.

On a classroom level there are already Olympic-themed resources being developed. One such site — On Your Marks — provides ideas to be used with children aged seven to 11 and 11 to 14 and explores themes linked to the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Medal winners?
Four years might seem a long time at present, but the pupils entering Year 7 this academic year won’t even have taken their GCSEs when the next Olympics take place, and somewhere in your school there might even be a medal winner… Are you ready for them?

Gill O’Donnell is an education consultant based in Yorkshire