Sport England, Towards an Active Nation - what this means to Ambition Members

June 17, 2016

In December 2015 the government published Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation. Sport England's Towards an Active Nation, provides a framework for how the policy will be practically delivered.

Towards An Active Nation provides a number of opportunities for Ambition members to contribute towards the priority outcomes outlined in the document, widening choice locally for young people to engage in physical activity. For Ambition members the most significant inclusion is the Children and Young People investment programme which has seen the extension of Sport England’s remit working with children from the age of five rather than 14. However, volunteering and inactive cohorts are the two other investment programmes widely applicable for many of our members.

Members should also note the customer focus (running) theme throughout the document. Sport England are keen to work with partners who engage and involve users within the design and potential delivery of activities, something many of our members have embedded within their practice.

The following summarises some of the key areas for consideration but we would strongly urge members to read the strategy in its entirety.

There are five outcomes the strategy has prioritised:

  • Physical wellbeing
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Individual development
  • Social and community development
  • Economic development

With seven investment programmes designed to support the successful delivery of the outcomes:

  • Tackling inactivity
  • Children and young people
  • Volunteering
  • Mass markets
  • Sustaining the core market
  • Working locally
  • Facilities


Tackling Inactivity

Over a four-year period £120 million will be invested directly through this programme, with £265 million overall supporting this area when encompassing priorities in other investment programmes. The investment reflects the challenge of changing the behaviours of inactive individuals and recognises that a positive change in attitude and behaviour to physical activity can have an enormous impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. It also reflects the potential impact the success of this programme could have on economic development through increased productivity and a decrease in the pressure on health budgets.

The strategy identified women and girls, people from lower socio-economic groups, older people, disabled people, people from particular ethnic groups and those with long-term health conditions, as the groups who are less likely to be active. The programme’s funding is designed to build on the Get Healthy, Get Active pilots.

KPI 1: Increase in the percentage of the population taking part in sport and physical activity at least twice in the last month

KPI 2: Decrease in the percentage of people physically inactive


Children and Young People

The extension of Sport England’s remit provides a great opportunity for members to work with partners to support the outcomes of this strategy through the Children and Young People investment programme. Basic competence and enjoyment is key to children developing a positive relationship with sport and physical activity. Engaging with children and young people as ‘customers’ will support a better outcome, particularly with groups who are underrepresented such as girls and disabled children.

There is an aspiration to join up school sport with activity out of school and embed a healthier approach to sport and physical activity. There is also a focus on transitions for children and young people, primary to secondary school and then further/higher education; when a significant proportion of children and young people stop/reduce their activity levels, becoming less active adults.

Although £40 million has been allocated (over four years) to this investment programme other programmes will contribute to enhance children and young people’s sport/activity experience.

 KPI 6 : An increase in the percentage of young people (11-18) with a positive attitude towards sport and being active

KPI 4: Increase in the percentage of children achieving physical literacy



As with youth work, sport relies on a dedicated quality volunteer workforce that enables people to participate in physical activity. The National Citizen Service, Scouts and The Prince’s Trust are cited as models in which sport can learn from. There is £30 million available over four years to support the below KPIs. For many youth organisations volunteering and volunteer development will form an added value element of their bid/partnerships and delivery.

KPI 7: Increase in the number of people volunteering in sport at least twice in the last year

KPI 8: The demographics of volunteers in sport to become more representative of society as a whole


Local Delivery

Sport England will fund 10 places in England to implement local strategies; working with communities to support greater opportunities for individuals to access and increase physical activity, especially with the groups who are less likely to take part in physical activity. It is an opportunity for members and youth groups to utilise their resources and expertise, working with partners, to expand their offer to a wider audience.

KPI 1: Increase the percentage of the population taking part in sport and physical activity at least twice a month

KPI 2: Decrease in the percentage of people physically inactive KPI 6: Increase in the percentage of young people (11-18) with a positive attitude towards sport and being active


Additional Investment Areas

The other investment areas include:

  • Investing in innovative programmes/services/ideas to grow the mass sport market
  • Providing support to sustain the core market of sport, including capacity building National Governing Bodies to develop diverse income streams to continue their delivery to those individuals who engage regularly in sport
  • Two strategies for investment in facilities a community asset fund to support and improve existing local infrastructure and strategic capital programme for large multiple use facilities. Any bids will require ‘local insight – really understanding what the local community needs and wants’

Additionally, Sport England will publish a workforce strategy by the end of 2016 to ensure the workforce supports the focus on inactive individuals and a new leadership programme for sport professionals.

As with all public funding, robust and consistent evaluation is a key element of the strategy; reviewing what is behind success. However, there is recognition that this can be affected by a number of variants and the need for it to be proportionate in ensuring the right approach for different partners.

A customer focus, a willingness to explore new approaches and to innovate is core business for many members, therefore, the strategy offers significant opportunities to increase services and opportunities for young people across the UK.


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