The Government has recently released its new School Sport and Activity Plan. This plan has several ambitions. Firstly, it seeks to increase physical activity participation levels so that all children and young people are doing at least 60 minutes each day in line with the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines; secondly, it wants children and young people to enrich their lives through character-building experiences achieved from participation in active pursuits, sports and competition; and finally, it wants all provision to be designed around the principles of physical literacy and to focus on fun and enjoyment, aiming to reach the least active.
Hopefully, this will address some of the issues and inequalities identified in Sport England’s ‘Our Active Lives Children and Young People Survey’ (2018). It is well worth a look if you haven’t already seen it.
Highlights for me include:
- 32.9% (2.3 million) children were classed as less active, with a daily average of less than 30 minutes. Family income seemed to be a factor here, with 39% of children in this group coming from the less affluent families, compared to 26% from the most affluent.
- Over 80% of children and young people are not meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for physical activity.
- Another inequality I found quite shocking was that whilst 86% of children from the most affluent families were able to swim 25 metres by themselves after leaving primary school, this number plummeted to 42% for the least affluent families.
- The survey also highlighted that there is a gender divide between boys and girls which increases as children get older – 20% boys are active every day compared to 14% of girls.
Other statistics available from NHS Digital reveal that almost one in 5 children are classed as overweight or obese when they start primary school, and by the time they leave, this figure rises to 1 in 3. Obesity prevalence more than doubles from reception (9.3%) to year 6 (19.8%).
The impact on public health from obesity and physical inactivity has been well-documented. Let’s hope this new initiative will help to address these pressing issues.