Free after-school athletics programme launched in Lewisham

A group of school children with a yellow circle titled Lewisham Schools Pilot

A pilot programme to provide free after-school provision of athletics activity to children most in need in the London Borough of Lewisham gets underway this week.  

The benefits of sport and physical activity for children and young people are well documented but inactivity remains a real concern, particularly for those experiencing family poverty or inequalities. Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey shows that over half of children still do not meet the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in an average of 60 minutes of sport and physical activity each day. Children from low-income families are less likely to be active and for those going to school in the most deprived places in the country, specifically those in school years 3-4 (ages 7-9 years) activity has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. 

In partnership with funetics, England Athletics’ primary age athletics programme, the Personal Best Foundation is piloting an after-schools programme in Lewisham primary schools located in areas of highest deprivation and will prioritise access to children on free school meals. Acknowledging that cost and transport challenges continue to make it difficult for some families to access sport and physical activity outside of school, it is the intention that keeping activity on school sites at a very localised level could be key to breaking down some of these barriers to participation.  

The first school to sign up was Downderry Primary School.  Head Teacher, Dr David Gifford said: 

“We’re excited to be involved with the Personal Best Foundations’ Schools Pilot Programme and are looking forward to welcoming funetics coaches from Millwall Community Trust. As a school we are very committed to sport and physical activity and we are thrilled to see athletics added to our offer. To be able to provide this free of charge to our children will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to access the club irrespective of family circumstances.”  

Amy Weaver-Tyler, Foundation Manager for the Personal Best Foundation added:  

“We are delighted to be able to bring our schools programme to children in Lewisham and are excited to get started. We know that the children will have a lot of fun with these sessions whilst developing fundamental movement skills which will hopefully set a firm foundation for a lifetime of physical activity. It is with huge thanks to The Mercers Company who gifted a grant to the foundation to support this pilot programme.”  

Learning to run, jump and throw is the foundation for a lifetime of activity and better wellbeing. And athletics is where it all begins. Developing fundamental skills, building confidence and creating positive participation experiences sit at the heart of the Personal Best Foundation’s Schools' Programme. 

The Personal Best Foundation is passionate about levelling the playing field for all children, regardless of their background. The pilot schools programme will empower children to chase their dreams, achieve their personal best, and build a brighter future. 

For more information about the Personal Best Foundations’ schools programme, including how to get involved, please visit or contact