Sport: Children and Young People

Culture, Arts and Leisure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 1st June 2010.

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Photo of Conall McDevitt Conall McDevitt Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:00 pm, 1st June 2010

4. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what measures Sport NI is taking to encourage young children and teenagers to participate in sport (i) within school; and (ii) outside school.      (AQO 1331/10)

Photo of Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland DUP

Sport Northern Ireland has a number of programmes and initiatives that aim directly or in part to encourage young children and teenagers to participate in sport inside and outside school. Those include an Activ8 programme, an active communities programme, leadership training in adventure sports, governing body and athlete support programmes, capital programmes to help to address sports infrastructure deficits, and surveys of timetabled PE in primary and post-primary schools.

Sport Northern Ireland also partnered DCAL in developing my new 10-year strategy for sport, ‘Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation 2009-2019’, which I launched on 13 May. Sport Matters contains targets and actions designed to encourage children and young people to participate in sport inside and outside school. As part of the delivery of Sport Matters, I have invited Sport Northern Ireland to join me at a meeting that I have arranged with the Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane, to discuss how DCAL and the Department of Education can encourage better use of school and community sports facilities in a way that will help to encourage children and young people to participate in sport inside and outside schools. That meeting is scheduled to take place on 7 June.

Furthermore, my predecessor, Gregory Campbell MP MLA, was committed to using the power of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire children and young people to adopt healthier lifestyles through sport. Sport Northern Ireland, through its programmes and initiatives, is helping the Department to deliver that legacy and, in doing so, is helping to tackle the major issue of childhood obesity.

Photo of Conall McDevitt Conall McDevitt Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 1st June 2010

I welcome the news that there will be a meeting on 7 June between the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Minister of Education. Specifically, does the Minister hope to seek agreement with the Minister of Education on the use of schools’ facilities for sports and community sports?

Photo of Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland DUP

That issue is on the agenda; it is the purpose of the meeting. I am not saying that, to borrow the Member’s phrase, we will reach agreement. That is not the situation that we will have. We need to find mechanisms, patterns of good practice and ways of doing things, and those will develop over time. There are already examples of good practice in quite a number of schools, and we need to encourage other schools to learn from those examples. There are other issues that we will want to discuss at the meeting.

Photo of Leslie Cree Leslie Cree UUP

Has the Minister any indication of the number of school premises that are used outside normal hours and are funded by his Department?

Photo of Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland DUP

I do not have that information to hand. I will enquire as to whether it is available. That might also need to be discussed with the Minister of Education at the meeting on 7 June.

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Does the Minister have a view on setting aside a set number of hours in a school for PE?

Photo of Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland DUP

There is an issue in relation to the activities of young people and the opportunities in the curriculum. Recommendations came forward from last year’s Education and Training Inspectorate report on children and young people’s interest in sport. That piece of evaluative work was commissioned from the inspectorate by my Department. The report’s recommendations, particularly those calling for greater collaboration between Departments, the building of links between schools and clubs and the widening of the PE curriculum, are wholly consistent with the targets and actions set out in the Sport Matters strategy.

When the inspectorate published the report last July, it specifically stated that there needed to be widespread support for Sport Matters if the recommendations were to be implemented. It is key that we encourage schools, within and outside the curriculum, to maximise opportunities. Some of those issues fall more readily within the Department of Education’s remit, and that is why we need, through Sport Matters, to have a cross-departmental group to work on them. Perhaps the Member should direct her question to the Minister of Education.