Before the onset of Covid-19 and the closure of all schools, the Panathlon Foundation charity was well on course for another record breaking year.

Our participation figures for the six and half months up to the last event we delivered on March 13, prior to lockdown, were up by a staggering 41% compared to the same point the previous year. (See our record breaking day March 12.)

The virus has created challenges for Panathlon as it has for so many charities who are facing major alterations and disruption to their normal delivery models.

Due to the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and the advice given to ensure the safety of all involved, the Panathlon charity made the decision in May 2020 to make our competitions ‘virtual’ events during this autumn term.

Panathlon saw this as a challenge to offer a programme which would remain engaging for our competitors and would be as close to the normal experience as possible of attending an external Panathlon event.

We have created a phased programme of activities based on the competitions that we would normally deliver for children with SEND. All the activities are skill-based, designed to allow the safe use of schools’ existing equipment and for school children to be still able to experience the ethos of Panathlon.

With non-school travel and leisure centre restrictions in place, initial Phase 1 work is centred around these virtual multi-skills based events. They will give SEND children in mainstream primary, secondary and special schools the opportunity to re-engage in physical activity.

We will distribute activity cards, video clips and resource packs to schools. We will also assist in the development of Young Leaders within participating schools, who will help their school run activity sessions and competition days.

Experts from five universities including Cambridge and Sussex, report that sport/play and physical activity will be essential to help relieve stress and anxiety among children upon their return to school. They recommend measures be taken to support children and to ensure that they are given time and opportunity to play and participate with their peers in physical activity environments.

After Christmas, Phase 2 of Panathlon delivery will see schools either offered another series of virtual events or will start the process of either Panathlon staff visiting schools or holding external ‘test’ events (depending on Covid-19 regulations at the time).

Panathlon and its partners will move as quickly as possible to deliver external event days, when safe and appropriate to do so.

We believe that in these most of unprecedented times, the support of Panathlon will be needed more than ever, as part of a roadmap leading to a curriculum which helps young people with SEND, smile, laugh, interact, re-connect and enjoy physical activity again.

For further information, please contact Tony Waymouth at

St James's Place