There is widespread confusion around the delivery of school sport during the second coronavirus lockdown in England, according to the Association for Physical Education.
The association told The Telegraph that it had received 1,700 calls from teachers and sports coaches asking for clarification on government guidance.
The Youth Sport Trust said that it, too, had been “inundated” with enquiries from schools.
Need to know: £320m PE grant for schools to continue next year
According to Department for Education guidance, "schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided whilst following the measures in their system of controls".
Coronavirus lockdown: What are the rules for sport in schools?
And, while the NAHT school leaders' union said that the guidelines “suggested that all extracurricular school sports clubs should stop”, Oliver Dowden, minister for digital, culture, media and sport, wrote in The Telegraph that the government was “keeping schools open and encouraging sport and activity throughout the day”.
Mr Dowden wrote: “Children will attend their regular PE classes, and will be able to continue extracurricular school sport as part of wraparound care – whether it’s football, hockey, basketball, table tennis or running.”
Schools minister Nick Gibb tweeted yesterday that "schools can and should continue offering sports clubs and activities".
Schools can and should continue offering sports clubs and activities. More detail on this is here: https://t.co/YyLdt4NOGi— Nick Gibb (@NickGibbUK) November 7, 2020
However, one teacher, Daniel Hugill, said that the "minister for schools hasn’t read or understood his own guidance."
I was angry when it was clear that HMCI at Ofsted hadn’t read the government guidance.— Daniel Hugill (@DanielHugill) November 7, 2020
Now we discover that the Minister for Schools hasn’t read or understood his own guidance. https://t.co/SW2nJ2oI3f
'Inundated' with questions
Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Association for Physical Education, told The Telegraph: “AfPE has been inundated and continues to be inundated with questions regarding the statement, ‘Where schools are offering extracurricular activities (that is, before- and after-school clubs), they should only do so where it is reasonably necessary to support parents to work, search for work, or undertake training or education.
“We can talk about interpretation, but we want all children and young people to be able to access extracurricular sporting opportunities, but we also must protect the workforce and children and young people.
“The guidance says in black and white that it only applies to certain groups. This is not inclusive. A straightforward, ‘Yes, extracurricular clubs can go ahead,' would have been something everyone in our sector would have applauded.”
'One rule for the private sector, one rule for the public sector'
Yesterday, former sports minister Richard Caborn raised concerns about sport still being played in private schools in England while other children were denied the chance to take part in similar activities.
He told The Telegraph that he was angered by sightings of rugby and football being played at independent schools while council fields lay empty.
He said: “It does give the impression of being one rule for the private sector and one rule for the public sector. Boris Johnson ought to be actively looking into that. If it’s good enough to have the private sector playing at the weekends, then it’s good enough for the public sector.
“Boris keeps talking about levelling everything up and this is something we can do immediately. It’s a matter of equal rights.”