By Max Clarke

Up to £20 million of funding to help get the least active children more involved in school sport is announced today by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.

The money will be used to help those children most at risk of becoming overweight or obese to experience sports. It forms part of the wider School Games announcement today by Government to boost competitive sport in schools.

The finding will come through two routes:

* £6.4 million for Change4Life Clubs in secondary schools; and
* up to £14million of funding to support primary schools to take part in the School Games initiative.

Andrew Lansley, said:

“We’re making £6.4 million of new funding available to secure the future of the Change4Life Clubs in secondary schools until March 2013.

“We will also extend this innovative programme into primary schools next year. This means many more youngsters will have the chance to get involved with a range of Olympic and Paralympic sport through school.

“This money will create more exciting opportunities to get the least active children involved in sport and physical activity - with all the important health benefits that come with being more active.

“Young people are at the heart of these clubs. They are particularly aimed at helping less active children, who are more at risk of becoming overweight or obese, to experience sports, as well as learning about healthy eating led by the clubs’ young leaders.

“We are also providing up to £14million of funding to support primary schools take part in the School Games initiative, creating further opportunities for children to be more active.”

Change4Life Clubs currently attract young people aged 13-19 years, who do not regularly take part in sports or physical activity, to get involved in a sport within a school club environment. The programme offers more diverse sports than the more traditional on offer, that are genuinely enjoyable and attractive to these young people. There are currently seven Olympic and Paralympic Sports on offer in Secondary Schools clubs:

* Badminton
* Boccia
* Fencing
* Table-tennis
* Volleyball
* Wheelchair Basketball

These have been chosen to offer the widest range to appeal to all children and young people especially the least active. In keeping with the Change4Life ethos, the clubs place an emphasis on a whole range of activities, including healthy eating, and not simply sport or physical activity. They aim to attract and engage youngsters early by developing a sense of belonging within a club setting.

To inspire children across the country to get involved in sport, and to incentivise schools to set their ambitions high, the Government has today announced a new School Games, for which every school will be invited to sign up. This package of annual events at school, district, county and national level has the potential to engage and excite every child.

The Games involves a new series of competitions within schools; more competitions between schools at district level; and festivals of competitive sport in every county — linked to a schools’ database to recognise and profile competition results. The first ever finals will be held in the Olympic Park in the run-up to the Games in 2012.

The new competitions will be supported by Lottery funding of up to £10m per year. The Department of Health is also providing up to £14 million over the next two years to support levels of participation in the Games by primary schools.