Tim Henman Foundation

Inclusive Activity Programme at
Oak Green Primary School
(Supported by The Hargreaves Foundation)

There are multiple barriers faced by those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in taking up sport and staying active.

What are the issues?

There are over 1.5 million pupils with SEND in England, an increase of 87,000 since 2022.  The most common types of difficulties faced are speech, language and communication problems, followed by social, emotional and mental health issues, moderate and specific learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder.  Disabled children are at increased risk of being typically inactive, particularly as they become older, issues which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Life can be hard for disabled households.  They face an average £975 a month (£1,122 after adjusting for inflation) in extra costs and the link between disability and poverty is clear; 27% of working age disabled people live in poverty compared to 19% of non-disabled people.

Oak Green Primary School, Aylesbury is located in one of the 25% most deprived areas of England.  Its free school meal rate is 34.1% and around 29% of its pupils have a form of special educational need or disability.

The Inclusive Activity Programme

The IAP is designed to create free, accessible and inclusive activity for pupils with SEND so that they can experience sport in a way that is more suitable for them.  Mainstream sport isn’t always relevant for those with special educational needs and disabilities which in turn may lead to inactivity.  Those with additional needs are nearly twice as likely to be physically inactive as their peers (23% vs 43%).

For the programme at Oak Green, we have worked with a lead coach and team of student coaches from BASE, who deliver multi-sport and adapted sports sessions.  As well as whole-class sessions, we have run two after-school clubs and a lunchtime club both primarily attended by SEND students.  In addition, we have worked with the Panathlon Challenge to organise inclusive sports days which give those students with SEND the opportunity to take part in competitive sport.

Given that 50% of students are still doing less than an hour and a half of activity per week outside of school, we are facilitating activity out of the school day by funding places on weekend sessions and holiday camps at local clubs, for those that can’t afford it.

We are also going further by organising a mentoring workshop at the school with ex-Paralympic athlete Louise Hunt and supporting the development of student coaches by enabling them to attain coaching qualifications.

Adam Colley, lead tutor and coach developer at BASE says: “Providing inclusive PE lessons and after-school clubs for everyone is so important. They create opportunities for children who can’t always access such activities, and Chris and Mel at Oak Green are always wanting to create experiences for every single child at the school. It’s brilliant!”.


The programme reached 260 students out of 704 at the school and every student with SEND. With the inclusive sports days that we facilitated with Panathlon Challenge, one was an internal sports day enjoyed by three groups of 20 students and the other was an external event with two groups of 14 students who came second in their competition and will progress to the regional finals.

  •   80% of the participating students now exercise more after taking part in an inclusive activity programme, “It encourages me to do more PE”.
  •   76% of students feel happier and fitter when taking part with increased confidence in competitive situations, “I liked that THF was willing to spend money on us.  It gave me a chance to be a bit more active”.
  •   38% of students admitted not enjoying mainstream sport in the past but are now “really enjoying” the sessions within this inclusive activity programme.
  •   On a scale of 1-5 on how much they enjoyed the sessions, students scored 4/5, “I loved the target and the basketball because I could score lots of goals”. 
  •   69% of participants are now doing between 90-210 minutes of activity within school per week (which is within the recommended range of 120-180 minutes for students with special educational needs and disabilities).