Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Rugby Football Union

The Rugby Football Union is pleased to contribute to this inquiry on behalf of English rugby. The RFU works in schools and other educational institutions to grow the Game, and welcomes the Government’s recent announcement on funding for Physical Education and school sport.

About the RFU

1.1 The Rugby Football Union is the national governing body (NGB) for grassroots and elite rugby in England, with 2,000 autonomous rugby clubs in its membership.

1.2 The RFU’s work at grassroots is supported by 50 Rugby Development Officers and 120 Community Rugby Coaches working full time across the country. These provide coaching sessions for young people in clubs, schools, colleges, and universities.

1.3 The RFU is also supported by 60,000 volunteers working across all levels of the Game. They provide 10 million working hours to rugby a year, equivalent to £125 million in cash value.

1.4 The RFU is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965–78 and is owned by its member clubs. Every penny made or saved is reinvested back into rugby.

1.5 England hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2015. The RFU has announced detailed legacy plans to use the inspirational effect of hosting the third largest sporting event to grow participation.

Rugby in Schools

2.1 The RFU’s core purpose is to grow rugby in England through our values and performance. Encouraging school age children to play rugby is vital to the future health of the Game in general participation and elite success.

2.2 The RFU believes that it is important to recognise the difference between Physical Education (PE) and school sport. At primary level young people need to receive a broad and balanced PE experience before NGBs can help children be successful in, and enjoy playing, sport. Rugby is a late development sport so our key priority for KS1 and 2 is that children have a quality PE experience and gain the key skills for playing sport, which rugby can be part of.

2.3 The RFU’s focus in terms of delivering schools based rugby is at secondary level as this is where we have the biggest impact on participation in encouraging people to stay in the Game. The RFU provides coaching, kit, equipment and teacher training. In a typical year our community rugby coaches would impact on an estimated 750 secondary schools.

2.4 The RFU has launched All Schools to help more state secondary schools play rugby sustainably as part of the Rugby World Cup legacy. Around 1500 state secondary schools currently play competitive rugby, and through the tailored support and investment provided by the RFU over a three year period, we aim to have another 750 state schools meaningfully playing rugby by the time of the following Rugby World Cup in 2019. In the first year hands-on coaching support plays a major part in introducing rugby to schools. In the second and third years of the All Schools programme the RFU funding will help to provide increased staff training, mentoring and young leaders training.

Government Policy

3.1 The RFU welcomes the Government’s recent announcement on school sport. The £150 million package will make a real difference to school sport and enable teachers to provide quality Physical Education and school sport for their students. The key priority for Head teachers should be to ensure that their staff can deliver a quality PE offer by training their staff or employing specialist PE teachers where appropriate.

3.2 The RFU was pleased that Ministers announced that funding for school sport would be ring-fenced for this purpose, and that Ofsted will be measuring levels of PE and school sport within all schools. It is important that Ofsted captures the engagement of all children in the school, and not just the most able.

3.3 The RFU will work with Ministers, NDPBs, and others in the sports landscape to help ensure that there is a delivery mechanism which provides clear support for teachers to help them make the most of the Government’s investment into their schools. This work is on-going at the time of this paper being submitted.

3.4 School Sport Competition: The RFU provides a competition framework so young people are able to challenge and improve themselves through playing rugby. We suggest caution in pushing too much competition at primary level as our experience shows that particularly amongst young children, this can put some off sport altogether. At KS1 competition should be more about achieving personal bests, moving to intra and the inter school competition though KS2 and KS3. Rugby has been successful in the UK School Games. The School Games give us a flexible, fully accessible pathway that allows all schools and all students an opportunity to participate in a competition that is appropriate for them. Last year 78 Level 3 events took place involving rugby union across the country. Of these events 83% were mixed events or female only.

3.5 PE Curriculum: The RFU welcomes the revised curriculum which is due to be introduced in September 2014. The RFU has been part of the national curriculum working group, and is keen to see the guidance produced by this group (which helps teachers understand what the various Key Stage requirements look like) promoted as best practice by the Department of Education. We would welcome clarity on how this will be done.

April 2013

Prepared 19th July 2013