Active Schools investment to continue in East Ayrshire

East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet has agreed to continue to invest in the Active Schools programme until 2027 due to its ongoing success in East Ayrshire.

A current one-year Partnership Agreement with sportscotland, which includes investment for the Active Schools and Community Sports hub programmes, is set to end on 31 March 2024. Sportscotland is committed to continuing to work in partnership with the Council and has agreed to an in-principle commitment to future investment in Active Schools and Community Sport hubs for up to a three year period from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2027.

Active Schools Co-ordinators have been working within East Ayrshire Council since 2005 with the aim of offering children and young people the opportunities and motivation to adopt active, healthy lifestyles, now and into adulthood. Active Schools work also involves important early intervention and prevention work throughout East Ayrshire, such as the Premier Night Leagues which provide a preventative approach to potential youth disorder and anti-social behaviour by encouraging young people to participate in football. In addition, the Active Schools Leadership programme is designed to support young people to develop their skills and experience through sports coaching and enhance their skills for life and work.

The impact of Active Schools has been highlighted by recent data provided by sportscotland which shows that last year, 43% of the East Ayrshire school roll participated in structured sport programmes (which is 5% higher than the national average); there were 6,922 distinct participants attending activities; and school roll participation rates at establishments for children and young people with special needs was 98% which is one of the highest rates in the country.

Other highlights include seeing over half a million young people attending structured sport and physical activity sessions during the previous 2019-2023 Partnership Agreement; the organisation of the inaugural Shankly Football Tournament in 2022; the co-ordination of Easter and summer holiday programmes which include a free healthy lunch at every session; vital support for young people and communities throughout the pandemic and subsequent return to sport; and the successful recruitment of two full time Active Schools Co-ordinators, who were previously young leaders and Young Ambassadors whilst they were attending school. 

The Council has also supported eight Community Sport Hubs, which bring together sport clubs and key local partners who want to develop the sports offered in the community. The Hubs are centred around major sporting and leisure infrastructures and cover the localities surrounding Grange Campus, New Farm Loch, Galston, Doon Valley, Stewarton, Cumnock, Auchinleck and Ayrshire College. Discussions are also continuing with Galleon Leisure Centre about the creation of an operational Community Sports Hub.

The continuation of the Active Schools programme will see further sport and physical opportunities, leadership and awards, volunteering, community club opportunities, active participation and citizenship and importantly the continued development of youth voice in our sporting landscape. It will also enhance opportunities for children and families, with greater emphasis on participation rates of care experienced children and young people; children and young people where poverty restricts participation in activity; girls and young females; and children and young people with an additional support need. It also aims to offer Active Schools for pre-5 establishments as part of the transition to primary school; further develop school to club links; and develop the participation of schools within School Sports Awards.

Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Spokesperson for Housing, Transport and Communities, said: “We are delighted to continue supporting Active Schools for at least the next three years. The success of the programme is evident from the significant achievements and incredible opportunities that the Co-ordinators are able to create daily for our children and young people.

“There are so many benefits to taking part in Active Schools activities apart from the health and wellbeing aspects. It can also be an important stepping-stone for many into further education and employment. A specific and targeted approach over the next three years will see further opportunities being created for some of our most disadvantaged young people, and the early intervention opportunities that Active Schools provide are so important in our communities as well.

“I look forward to seeing the many positive outcomes that the continued investment in our Active Schools programme and Community Sports Hubs will provide for our young people and our communities.”