Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: sports participation

Updated 8 May 2015

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/getting-more-people-playing-sport. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


Playing sport helps to keep people healthy and is good for communities. Playing sport at school or in a local club is also the first step to competition at the highest level, which helps improve our reputation as a sporting nation, and contributes to economic growth.

But when people leave school they often stop playing sports, which means people can’t fulfil their sporting potential, and can lead to a less healthy lifestyle. We want to get more people playing sport safely from a young age, and help them keep playing sport throughout their life, no matter what their economic or social background.


To make sure as many people as possible are playing sport, the government is:

  • funding Sport England, to help community sports grow, including helping 14- to 25-year-olds to keep playing sport throughout their lives
  • expanding the School Games programme to increase opportunities for more young people to play competitive sport
  • spending over £450 million on improving physical education (PE) and sport in primary schools over the 3 academic years from 2013 to 2014 to 2015 to 2016


When we bid for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games we did it in part so that its legacy would inspire young people to play more sport.

In December 2012 there were a record 15.5 million people aged 16 and over playing sport at least once a week. That’s 750,000 more than a year before and 1.57 million more than when London won the Olympic and Paralympic bid in 2005.

In 2010 we re-directed National Lottery funds worth an extra £50 million a year from 2012 back into sport, to strengthen the Olympic legacy.

In 2011 we set up the School Games to inspire young people in primary and secondary schools to play more competitive sport.

Who we’re working with

We’re working with:

We fund Sport England, who invest in facilities, schemes and training programmes to encourage more people to play sport.

Appendix 1: funding Sport England

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The government funds Sport England, the organisation that decides how to invest government and National Lottery funding to help people across England create a sporting habit for life.

Sport England invests money in facilities, schemes and training programmes that make it easier for more people to play sport and develop their talent. Between 2012 and 2017, Sport England will receive £1 billion from the government and National Lottery funding to invest in projects that will:

  • help more people have a sporting habit for life
  • create more opportunities for young people to play sport
  • nurture and develop talent
  • provide the right facilities in the right places
  • support local authorities and unlock local funding
  • ensure real opportunities for communities

Youth sport

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘Youth sport strategy’ gives more detail about what Sport England is doing to increase sports participation in the 14 to 25 year old age group, including:

  • improving links between schools and community sports clubs
  • giving funds to National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) to create new opportunities in sport for young people
  • investing in sports facilities, including providing funding for schools to open their sports facilities to the public
  • providing funding for local community clubs, for example to set up sustainable Door-Step Clubs, which take sports to where young people live.

More information

Sport England’s Active People survey measures participation in sport and physical education. Read our news story about the results.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘Taking part’ survey series measures participation in sport, culture and leisure activity.

Appendix 2: the School Games

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Sainsbury’s School Games is a national programme that aims to motivate and inspire millions of young people across the country to take part in more competitive sport.

Sainsbury’s is the headline sponsor of the School Games, which the government set up alongside our partners Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust. We provide funding alongside private sponsorship and National Lottery funds.

The School Games gives primary and secondary students the chance to compete at school and regional levels with the most talented competing at a national level. The competition is open to all and encourages young people to participate in competitive sport across all levels of ability and experience. Disabled sports are included at every level of the competition.

Over half of the schools in England signed up to the School Games in 2012, and the first National Finals were held in the Olympic Park in London, in May 2012. The second National Finals were hosted in Sheffield in September 2013. We will keep promoting the programme and encourage more schools to become involved with the School Games by signing up online.

The School Games also gives more competitive sports opportunities to young people with special educational needs and disabilities through Project Ability. Run by the Youth Sport Trust, the project is working with 50 schools to improve sport for disabled pupils through training, local sports opportunities and school club activities.

This video gives more information about the games.

Appendix 3: PE and sport premium for primary schools

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The PE and sport premium is designed to help primary schools improve the quality of the PE and sport activities they offer their pupils.

We are spending over £450 million on this funding over the 3 academic years 2013 to 2014, 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016.

Guidance for schools on the funding, including details of funding allocations and advice on how to spend it, is available.

Details of the funding allocations for the PE and sport premium are also available.