About the Opening School Facilities Pilot Project

North Yorkshire Sport and County Durham Sport, working collaboratively, were one of 19 pilot projects commissioned by Sport England to deliver the Opening Schools Facilities project between October 2019 and December 2020, as outlined in the Government's School Sport and Activity Action Plan July 2019.

The work is part of a national drive to encourage young people to take part in 60 minutes of physical activity per day across the week. The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced initial total funding worth £2.4 million for better sports activities and teaching, to support schools in the pilot areas to collaborate with sports organisations to increase the opportunities to use school sports facilities outside the school day.

Following on from this pilot, in February 2021 DfE announced that more than £10 million will be invested to support school sports and swimming facilities in England, and will be distributed through Sport England. This targeted investment to selected schools will build on existing funding to help schools open their facilities outside of school hours, and encourage pupils to be more physically active.

What we did

  • The initial focus of this work was to gather intelligence on the facilities available in secondary schools and how they are used by the school and local community as well as identifying good practice which could be shared locally and nationally. We also wanted to better understand the barriers that Primary schools face in opening up their facilities.
  • We completed a piece of desk research across both areas from a range of sources and asked secondary schools to complete a brief survey to gather more information on what facilities are in place, how they are open and where schools feel there are opportunities to increase this usage.
  • Using local intelligence and the surveys we identified focus schools for a 'deep dive' to look at the challenges and opportunities that exist in this work as well as highlight schools with a varied and sporting offer and how this is works. We wanted to find out what is working well for schools across the network and to better understand some of the challenges school face in opening up their facilities to community use and helping to broaden the offer of sport and physical activity in their communities.

  • We have worked with schools to enable young people to complete a youth voice survey - telling us about the facilities in their school, what is important to them when they are choosing sport and physical activity sessions and what sports they would like to try.
  • The survey gave us a powerful insight in to the activity levels of young people just as the Covid-19 pandemic began.
  • Where schools had a significant number of pupils completing the survey we produced bespoke reports and infographics which can be used by the schools to develop their offer and encourage their pupils to become more active.

  • For some schools, we mapped the sport and leisure facilities within travelling distance, including this information in the final reports for the school.
  • Linking this community mapping to the youth voice survey, and other consultation with young people, will enable schools to look at potential gaps in provision.

Example of mapping which shows the facilities and clubs within the catchment area of a North Yorkshire school.

Contact Us

If you are interested in finding out more about this work please contact Damien Smith