£2.2bn worth of London 2012 legacy investment in PE Premium ‘has failed’

£2.2bn worth of London 2012 legacy investment in PE Premium 'has failed'
By Tom Walker    23 Jun 2022

There has been a direct investment of more than £2.2bn into primary PE since 2012 / Shutterstock/Andreshkova Nastya

The London 2012 Olympic legacy investment designed to improve physical education at primary schools has failed, according to a study.

Academics at the University of Winchester looked into the effects of £2.2bn worth of investment in primary PE since 2012, known as the Primary PE and School Sport Premium (or “Premium”).

The research showed that, despite the investment, there had been no recognisable improvement in the standard of PE teaching at primary school level.

The study was conducted by ​​Dr Vicky Randall, senior fellow in the Institute of Education at the University of Winchester, and Gerald Griggs, dean and head of academics, University Campus of Football Business (Etihad Campus).

“The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London were billed as the ‘Legacy Games’,” said Randall.

“London was poised to host a global event that, through the power of sport, promised to have a major impact on health, education and culture, as well as boosting the economy through ambitious infrastructure projects.

“Physical education (PE) in primary schools in England was to be a significant benefactor, with the aim to inspire the youngest school-aged children.

“Renewed investment in PE would be crucial when it came to delivering much of the Games’ legacy.

“But despite a direct investment of more than £2.2bn into primary PE since 2012 – making it the highest-funded subject at primary age – we have identified a clear failure of this Olympic investment to deliver on one of its stated aims of increasing the ‘confidence, knowledge and skills of all [primary] staff in teaching PE and sport’.

“We found there is little evidence of any legacy of improved PE teaching within England’s primary school sector.

“Final-year primary education trainees who took part in our latest research told us it was difficult for them to even observe a primary PE lesson as part of their teacher-training. For most, teaching a PE lesson was not an option.

“The London Olympics windfall has instead seen staff teachers sidelined in favour of an army of outsourced providers, looking for business in a well-funded marketplace for the best part of a decade.

“Many schools say they are happy to pay for this extra expertise and are happy with the work the private sports coaches do. But there has been a striking lack of auditing of how this taxpayers’ money has been spent.

“With the government still in discussions about the future of the Premium beyond the current academic year, and amid growing budgetary pressures, the failure to build primary PE teachers’ skills could lead to a rapid erosion of provision should the funding be cut.”

To read a full report on the University of Winchester research, click here.