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Thousands of children given opportunity to try para-sports through major inclusive sport programme

Copyrights: Youth Sport Trust

Thousands of children given opportunity to try para-sports through major inclusive sport programme

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

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. 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 confidence 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. 

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 development of a youth voice toolkit which builds on the training young people receive to advocate inclusive sport in their schools.

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.”

Teejai’s story

Teejai Campion is among the 2,531 young people across the country to be empowered to deliver inclusive sport to his peers and learn new skills through sport. Teejai has severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which affects his ability to concentrate, organise his thoughts and remain still. The severity of his ADHD impacts his ability to learn, which has caused significant learning difficulties.

By learning leadership and communication skills through sport, Teejai has recently secured a job with the Northampton Saints Rugby Club. He says this wouldn’t have been possible if he wasn’t supported through Inclusion 2020.

He said: "Taking part in the sports leadership course was worth all the time and effort because even if it takes you a long time it helps you to learn so many new skills that don’t just help you in sport but in all of your life.

"My first year of the course was incredible I built so much confidence and discovered how to create, plan and teach a PE lesson. My favourite part of the course was teaching and showing the younger students and primary students how to play Boccia and Basketball. The most challenging part of this course actually was helping the students, as it can sometimes be stressful, but it was worth it in the end as I have gained communication, teamwork and organisation skills that I did not have before the course.”

This model is being mimicked across the country with the 50 lead inclusion schools acting as champions in their local areas. 

The consortium of organisations 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 the programme’s insight report please visit 


The Youth Sport Trust is a children’s charity working to ensure every child enjoys the life-changing benefits that come from play and sport. It has more than 20 years expertise in pioneering new ways of using sport to improve children’s wellbeing and give them a brighter future. The charity works with more than 20,000 schools across the UK and operates on a local, national and global level. It harnesses the power of sport, physical activity and PE to build life skills, connections between people and support networks which increase life chances through greater attainment, improved wellbeing and healthier lifestyles.  


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Isabel Dunmore


Friday, November 20, 2020 - 11:07

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