Panathlon’s ‘virtual’ in-school programme has been re-launched for 2022/23 to build on the legacy of an incredible summer of sport!

Our Virtual Programme first began in September 2020 when Covid-19 restrictions prevented us staging our usual calendar of external competitions for children with disabilities and special needs. We decided that if we can’t get the schools to come to us, we should go to them!

We distributed resource packs, activity cards and instructional video clips to staff at participating schools so they can run events themselves on-site for SEND pupils using existing school equipment. All the activities are skill-based and designed for schools to deliver the Panathlon fair play ethos through simplified and varied competitions which will develop confidence and self-belief in every individual.

Two years on, with Covid-19 restrictions having eased, we’ve revamped our virtual offer to build on the legacy of an amazing summer – the Lionesses’ European Championship win, the Commonwealth Games, the Hundred and the European Aquatics Championships.

These events have inspired our revamped programme: girls’ football, multi-skills, catching and throwing and swimming. Our offer gives teachers the resources and flexibility to do these activities in class or across school. It includes full video guides (see one example here), written explanations, templates and score sheets.

Schools can pick and choose any aspect of the offer that suits them – there’s no time limit or expectation of completing all the activities.

In its first year, at the height of pandemic, 45,845 pupils with SEND from 583 schools participated in Panathlon’s virtual programme across England and Wales. The following year, 2021/22, Covid-19 restrictions had been eased and our calendar of external competitions returned, but Virtual Panathlon was so popular that over 14,000 pupils took part (in defiance of post-pandemic downward trends in participation opportunities for disabled people).

There are separate activity packs for primary, secondary and special schools as well as specific guides for in-school ten-pin bowling, New-Age Kurling, boccia, table top, swimming (for both 5m and 10m pools), football, tennis, cricket and an outdoor summer programme. Schools can train their own Young Leaders for officiate and guide their younger peers during competition. Pupils have also taken part in live Q&As via Zoom with Paralympic and para-international athletes.

Each school submits their results and sends monitoring forms to a Panathlon representative. We then send back certificates and medals.

To get involved in Panathlon’s 2022/23 Virtual Programme, just email Tony Waymouth at