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50% increase in specialist PE teachers in primary schools since introduction of PE and Sport premium finds new study

17 December 2015 | Tags: children and young people

Since the launch of the PE and sport premium, a funding initiative of £450m over three years, the proportion of primary schools with a specialist PE teacher has increased by 50% to almost half of all schools, according to a two year study published today.

Commissioned by the Department for Education, researchers from NatCen Social Research surveyed 533 primary schools in England to examine how they have been using the funding and found significant changes to the way PE is taught in schools.

Almost three quarters (73%) of schools reported there had been a change in who delivered PE lessons, while two thirds (66%) reported a change in who taught extra-curricular sport.

-       PE teachers: Today 46% of primary schools have a PE specialist teacher, compared with 30% prior to the funding.

-       Teacher training: Most schools reported that they had used the funding to up-skill and train existing staff (86% in 2014 and 81% in 2015). 87% said the quality of PE teaching had improved since the introduction of the premium.

-       Greater variety: Most schools reported an increase in the variety of activities they offered, the most common new activities were multi-skills (25%), dance (23%) athletics (21%) basketball (19%) cricket (18%) and hockey (17%).

Competition, facilities and equipment

Many schools used the funding from the PE and sport premium to invest in new facilities, equipment and to take part in competitions.

-       New equipment: Most schools (86%) reported using premium funds to buy new equipment in Year 2 and as a result, schools perceived the quality (81%) and range (74%) of equipment to increase after the introduction of the premium. While just under half of schools thought the quality and range of their facilities had increased.

-       Rise in competition: Seventy per cent of schools said they had participated in more competitions involving other schools since the introduction of the premium, while over half (53%) said they had increased the number of intra-school competitions.

Perceived impacts

The researchers also sought to measure the impact the schools perceived that the funding had on pupils.

-       Impacts on pupils: Almost all schools reported that the PE and sport premium had had “a lot” or “a little” positive impact on physical fitness (99%), healthy lifestyles (99%), skills (98%) and behaviour of pupils (96%).

-       Pupil engagement: 84% of schools said pupil engagement in PE lessons had increased and the same proportion (84%) reported an increase in the levels of participation in extra-curricular activities.

Meg Callanan, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research said: “The PE and sport premium has had a significant impact on schools over a short space of time. Primary schools all over the country have told us that they are recruiting and training more staff, able to offer more activities and better facilities and that it is having a positive impact on pupils. Many schools have invested the money in areas such as training that will last beyond the lifetime of the funding, but the next challenge will be maintaining these improvements when the premium comes to an end in 2016.”


Download the report here 

For further details contact Leigh Marshall: 0207 549 8506 or 0782 803 1850.

Notes to editors

  1. 1.    “The PE and sport premium: an investigation in primary schools”  is the final report of a two year study, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and carried out by NatCen Social Research, to investigate the use and the perceived impacts of the PE and sport premium in primary schools across England. It presents the main findings from two surveys of primary schools and draws on qualitative findings from tracker school interviews and case studies.


  1. 2.    NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.


  1. 3.    The PE and sport premium is a cross-departmental funding initiative of over £150 million per year from 2013/14 to 2015/16. The aim of the fund is to improve the quality and breadth of PE and sport provision in primary schools in England.