Colleges at heart of community sport – growth predicted

Community organisations urged to build new partnerships with colleges as participation and facilities increase.

A study of sport in colleges has revealed that a record number of facilities are opening up to local communities with further growth predicted.

Sport England has invested £17m in 153 new sports co-ordinators, known as College Sport Makers, to help colleges boost participation in sport on campus. Local organisations are urged to build stronger partnerships with colleges to improve sports provision in their area.

This investment is in addition to over 100 sports development professionals currently in Colleges and £8m allocated to specific projects through Sport England’s Further Education Activation Fund.

The Association of Colleges’ (AoC) sport survey 2013 shows that 88% of college sports halls are open to the public, as well as:

  • 91% of synthetic turf pitches
  • 79% of dance studios
  • 73% of swimming pools, and
  • 91% of five a side pitches.

Colleges offer an average of 17 sports per college, 13 on site, and around 100 colleges have indicated that they are planning or looking to create new sports facilities.

Clare Howard, AoC’s Head of Sports Policy, described the results as very positive.

She said: “The findings from this year’s AoC sport survey demonstrate that colleges are working hard to create opportunities and more and more are developing strategies and initiatives that embed sport across the college.

“It has been a tough few years for college sport with cuts placing severe restrictions on capacity, which has affected the amount of extra-curricular sport available. However the survey results demonstrate that colleges are recovering from this. They are now recognising the importance of sport and taking advantage of external funding to lay the foundations for even greater achievements in the next 12 months and beyond. This is crucial as we work towards the national further education sport strategy, ‘Growing Sport, Growing Colleges’.”

However, Ms Howard explained there are still some challenges evident in the results.

She said: “There is a significant gap between participation among male and female students and there are issues relating to outdoor facilities, staff capacity and the cost of travelling to competitions. These are areas we hope to develop as a result of the new funding and new partnerships.”

Source: Association of Colleges