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Education secretary Damian Hinds: get more children to play competitive sport

Damian Hinds has called on sporting organisations to "work with the government" and to ensure all children have the opportunity to take part in competitive sport.

Speaking at a summit of major sports governing bodies on 19 December, the education secretary asked NGBs to advise the government – ahead of the School Sport Action Plan next year – on how to help children to harness the benefits of sport.

Hinds said competitive sport could be used to teach children greater self-belief and how to recover from setbacks – alongside the "well-documented benefits to physical and mental wellbeing".

"Education is not just about the taking and passing of exams, important though these are," Hinds said.

"It is clear that exercise and organised sport, in particular, can play a huge part in children’s personal resilience and emotional wellbeing.

"Sporting bodies are offering a huge number of programmes and we want to work together to improve the coordination of these so they are easier for schools and teachers to use.

"If opportunities are limited, there is a risk that children will give up – literally at the first hurdle – if they don’t find a sport they enjoy; or else they’ll think it’s just not for them.

"A clear message I have taken is the role the education system can play in giving guidance to schools on what good school sport looks like, therefore enabling sports clubs and foundations to flourish."

The government's School Sport Action Plan will build on the recent publication of data from the Active Lives survey, which found that one-third (33 per cent) of children and young people do less than 30 minutes of activity per day.

The plan will look to ensure that every child will have the opportunity to take part in competitive sport – and in the minimum guarantee that children have access to quality, protected PE and sport sessions during the school week.

It will also promote a joined-up approach to physical activity, supporting schools through the local community and encouraging families to get active together.

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