Sport and physical activity 2021-22

Over the last eighteen months, everyone has faced unprecedented challenges, as a result of COVID-19. The sport and physical activity sector has come together with communities to understand local needs and to re-evaluate the approaches being used to develop solutions.

The LGA and Sport England have developed programmes to support ongoing systemic leadership development.

Sport England and the LGA have created an online version of the Leadership Essentials programme for councillors with a portfolio for sport and/or physical activity or a strategic interest in sport and physical activity. The Leadership Essentials for officers programme is also being offered in an online format. There is no cost to attend the programme – for further details see the programme outlines and dates below.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the LGA and Sport England piloted the online programme format to continue to support to officers and elected members with systemic leadership development in changing contexts. This has included delivering the programmes across a series of online sessions rather than in residential blocks. The programme builds leadership development in a journey joined up with other programme attendees, with each session informed by the learning and discussions from the session before.

In partnership with Sport England, the LGA has also provided ongoing support to alumni of the Leadership Essentials programme, to help their leadership development during pandemic. Previous programme attendees have told us how much they value the post-programme support. In response the LGA and Sport England are developing further alumni support sessions. For further details see programme outlines and dates. 

The LGA has a longstanding relationship with Sport England. In the last six years, over 20 successful Leadership Essentials Sport programmes have been offered to support the leadership development of councillors and officers through the LGA’s Leadership Essentials programme.

Leadership Essentials: sport and physical activity, for councillors

Programme outline

Aims of the programme: 

The programme supports elected members to: 

  • Engage with Sport England’s new ten-year Strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’, that continues to champion sport and physical activity’s ability to make better places to live and bring people together, and explore how taking a place-based approach can help tackle the barriers to activity.
  • Develop in their role to lead the design of a local sport, physical activity and movement offer that improves activity levels and the health and wellbeing of local communities, contributes to reducing the burden on social care, tackles health inequalities and encourages connected communities.
  • Develop knowledge and insight of other policy areas to better lead a collaborative approach to harnessing the power of sport, physical activity and movement to improve lives in their place.
  • Explore their own approach to leadership in collaborative partnerships and see how leadership is important in influencing system change, identifying and pursuing development needs as appropriate.
  • Create fit for purpose sport and physical activity opportunities with diminishing resources, focusing on the assets of their spaces and places – including leisure facilities and developing more active environments. 
  • Understand more about how Sport England and the LGA can help and support councillors to lead change and become better leaders for their places.  
Dates and booking


You are required to attend all six sessions.

Session 1: Understanding the new leadership context 
Wednesday 3 November 2021 (2pm – 4.30pm) 

Session 2: Reducing health inequalities 
Friday 5 November 2021 (9.30am – 12pm) 

Session 3: Leading sport and physical activity in a challenging, changing world 
Tuesday 9 November 2021 (9.30am – 12.30pm)

Session 4: Understanding People and Community Engagement  
Thursday 11 November 2021 (9.30am – 12pm)

Session 5: Spaces and places  
Monday 15 November 2021 (2pm – 4.30pm) 


Session 6: Setting the ambition
Tuesday 16 November 2021 (9.30am – 12noon)  

Booking information

There is no delegate fee for this programme. To book your place on this six-session councillor programme, or for more information, email

Leadership Essentials: sport and physical activity, for officers

Programme outline

Aims of the programme:

The programme will support participants to:

  • Engage and influence the changes that will now need to take place in their organisations and the wider sector.
  • Develop and enhance their collaborative leadership skills so they can support and influence the delivery of whole system change.
  • Interact better with other service areas which include, but are not limited to, adult social care, public health, health and wellbeing.
  • Engage with and better influence local political leadership.
  • Better articulate and evidence their value and importance in a new and challenging environment.

The programme includes a mix of speakers from Sport England, LGA and partner councils/organisations, and group discussions, all whilst having the opportunity to network and share experiences with colleagues in similar roles. 

Format and structure

The programme, as outlined below, is structured around ten sessions, of two to three hours, over five weeks around three interrelated themes:

  • Understanding the new context
  • Understanding system thinking and system change
  • Changing the system to change lives
Dates and booking information


To join the waiting list for future dates email

Booking information

There is no delegate fee for the programme. Places are limited to 20 participants.

To book your place on this 10 session programme, or for further information, email