Last week I had a really enjoyable visit to a school in Nottinghamshire to get involved with the Holiday Activity Fund provision there. A mix of sport end education that's a really wonderful, positive example for everyone.
Over the summer, tens-of-thousands of kids have been able to benefit from this provision co-ordinated by Nottinghamshire County Council and delivered by sports clubs, charities, and community groups.
It’s fantastic, and has developed from the COVID school holidays support, expanding from just providing food to all sorts of activities that are available to all.
Those who know me will know I love getting stuck in with my sports, and I’m involved in junior football and hockey outside of work with my own kids. Although in this case, the under 9s had no mercy for me in goal! I've done my back in!
We know that sport doesn’t only help develop the academic potential of young people, it also teaches life-skills such as teamwork, and the determination to overcome challenges – helping people to deal with the highs and lows of life.
Improving access to high-quality sports facilities for communities is a campaign I’ve been running for a long time in Westminster. These facilities are often based inside school grounds and locked up at evenings, weekends, and school holidays.
In Mansfield this year we’ve had £33,490 of investment from Government to help a number of local clubs improve their sports facilities, upgrading all sorts of infrastructure and buy new kit - helping to ensure they’ve got what they need.
Alongside that, we've had a share of £57 million of Government funding to improve the staffing and opening hours of school sports facilities, and I’m pleased to see overall a much bigger focus on sport within our schools outside of term time, with the Holiday Activity Fund being a key component to this too.
Investment into our schools is at record highs, and for this year and the next, schools across the country are benefiting from an extra £2 billion in funding - making the total school budget the highest on record at £58.8 billion in 2024-25.
This national investment has already translated into millions more pounds for schools in Mansfield, with our town also benefiting from longer term investment with four schools being rebuilt – Meden, All Saints, Garibaldi and Yeoman Park SEND school.
Since 2010, the number of schools rated ‘Good’ across the country has risen from 68 percent to 88 percent, which is something we’ve seen reflected here too, with Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, Oak Tree Primary and Vision West Notts College all achieving ‘Good’ in recent Ofsted inspections, having struggled previously.
A world class education system is the nearest thing we have to a silver bullet in ensuring our kids have the best chance to fulfil their potential.
With record funding going into our schools, standards being raised, and with more access and provision for sport, we’re creating a powerful combination that has the potential to deliver a world class education and the right life-skills our kids need to succeed.