Statement on the government’s new sport strategy
30th August 2023
The government has published its first Sport Strategy since 2015 with an ambition to get an additional 3.5 million people more active by 2030. The strategy titled Get Actives places and emphasis on reducing the disparities in participation by setting specific targets for groups that are currently less active. This includes those in deprived communities, disabled people, women and people from Black and Asian communities. This focus is nothing new but the explicit targets for each group give greater focus and accountability and will provide a framework for much needed collaboration across the sport and physical activity and other sectors.
It is positive to see the recognition that responsibility for increasing levels of activity and improving health sits across a range of government departments, not just DCMS and Health, so we welcome the introduction of a joint government and sector National Physical Activity Taskforce.
The strategy recognises the importance of a committed workforce to meet the ambitious targets, however there should additionally be greater focus on increasing the diversity of the sport workforce. Insight, including our own, shows that inactive people are more likely to become active if the sport or physical activity offer is delivered by someone like them. Our current workforce does not reflect the demographics of the UK population and this issue should certainly be addressed.
It is great to see that the strategy references the opportunities provided by the Skills and Post-16 Education Act and the role of LSIPs in meeting local skills demands. However, it fails to mention the fundamental role that colleges play in this and the great work they are already doing in partnership with CIMSPA. We feel that colleges are vital to the development of a diverse and skilled workforce, and this should be recognised within the strategy.
The strategy additionally presents a clear vision for the sports sector, aiming to enhance the handling of integrity matters, including instances of misconduct, doping, and corruption, within sport. The long-term goal is to transform sport into a "welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environment that instils confidence in participants, as well as their parents or guardians."
Like the AoC Sport Strategic Framework, there is a focus on economic and environmental sustainability. This is to ensure that sport and physical activity is protected for the future and organisations that provide sport and physical activity which are fundamental to people’s physical and mental health remain for future generations.
There are many areas within the strategy where AoC Sport and member colleges can and should play a vital role in helping meet the ambitious targets. The aims of the strategy should help focus the sector but meeting them will require a collaborative and unified approach, which includes colleges. It is also crucial that the sector is appropriately funded to ensure that we can provide the benefits of sport and physical activity to all. AoC Sport will look to continue to engage with colleges, stakeholders, including our partners at Sport England, and government to ensure that the FE Sector is part of this journey.