Sport and physical activity 2021-22

As communities rebuild from COVID-19, local authorities are developing innovative place-based approaches to understand and respond to local needs. The LGA and Sport England have developed programmes to support officers and councillors to work with communities and partners to co-create approaches to complex challenges, such as health inequalities.

Following a successful online programme, the LGA and Sport England is returning to face-to-face programmes, running between March and June.

There are two Leadership Essentials programmes: the officer programme is designed for strategic officers with the responsibility for sport and physical activity. The councillor programme is designed for lead councillors with the responsibility for sport and physical activity.

There is no cost to attend these programmes – for further details see the programme outlines below.

Each programme has a strong emphasis on networking and sharing best practice, centred around systemic leadership. The programmes are designed to take attendees on a journey, experienced as a group, developing skills to help attendees to tackle complex challenges, such as health inequalities.

Following the programmes, attendees can join alumni programmes and conversations, helping to embed learning and develop new and existing networks. There is no charge to attend alumni programmes.

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 officers

Programme outline

Aims of the programme:

This programme supports officers to:

  • Engage with 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 as 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.
  • Build confidence and resilience in this work

The two-and-a-half-day programme includes a mix of speakers from Sport England, LGA and partner councils/ organisations, group discussions, all whilst having the opportunity to network and share experiences with officers in similar roles.  The programme is facilitated by Martyn Allison and Liz Blyth who both work as LGA Associates, supported by Debbie Sorkin from the Leadership Centre. 

Format and structure 

The programme is structured around four interrelated themes:

  • Understanding the new context  
  • Understanding system thinking and system change  
  • Collaborating across the system to change lives
  • Delivering health and wellbeing throughout the system 
Dates and booking information

Programme 15  
4.30pm 28 March to 3.30pm 30 March 2022, Holywell Park, Loughborough  

Programme 16 
4.30pm 23 May to 3.30pm 25 May 2022, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire 

There is no delegate fee for the event which is inclusive of accommodation and meals over the duration of the programme. Each programme starts at 4.30pm on the first day and closes at 3.30pm on the third day. Places are limited to 20 participants.  

To apply for a place

To apply please complete the online application form stating your preference for which dates you would like to attend.  We ask where possible to give a first and second choice so that can ensure where possible a mix of delegates in each cohort. 

Please complete your form by 4 March 2022 and hold the dates in your diary. 

Whilst every effort is made to meet demand, these programmes have been popular. We aim to confirm if you have been successful in securing a place on the course by 9 March 2022. 

For further information email

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 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 information

Dates: 14 June (5.30pm start) to 16 June 2022 (1.30pm finish)

Venue: Residential at Cranfield Management Development Centre, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, MK43 0HG 

Fee: No delegate fee

Timings: The programme starts at 5.30pm on the first day and closes on the third day at 1.15pm, followed by lunch.

Booking information

  • This programme is for members with the portfolio responsibility, or a strategic interest in, sport and physical activity.
  • There are 20 places available and places will be issued on a first come, first served basis. 
  • There is no delegate fee for the event which is inclusive of accommodation and meals over the duration of the programme.
  • To book please email 
  • Once you have booked please hold the dates in your diary.  More detailed information will be sent to you closer to the event. 

If you require further information about this programme, please email


Your ideas and feedback help us to create training programmes that target the themes that are most important to you. If you are an elected member or a council officer, tell us about the themes and support that would be useful to you in 2022 by emailing