Sport England – Active Lives Children and Young People’s Survey

Yesterday, 14/01/21. Sport England published the latest official statistics from the Active Lives Children and Young People’s Survey. This publication is split into two reports: 

  • The first is our regular data publication, covering the 2019/20 academic year
  • The second is a supplementary report focusing on children’s activity habits in the summer term as activity restarted after the first Covid-19 lockdown 

Children’s activity levels dropped significantly less during the pandemic than for adults

Two new reports show that activity levels were increasing during the autumn 2019 term but, as expected, dropped across the spring and summer 2020 terms due to disruption caused by the storms and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thanks to the dedication and resourcefulness of parents, teachers, coaches and organisations who deliver activities, children and young people were generally successful in adapting their habits to include new forms of exercise, though the types of activity they were able to do changed drastically.  

This has impacted participation in team sports and swimming the most, whilst the biggest gains were in walking, cycling and fitness.

The lack of available choice also led to a significant drop in physical literacy. This means it’s possible the pandemic will have long-term consequences for how children feel about sport and activity.  

These reports therefore highlight the importance of ensuring sport and physical activity in and outside of school is back up and running as soon as it’s safe to do so. In the words of Sport England’s Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth:

“Schools play a vital role in keeping people active – both through physical education and by providing the facilities many clubs and groups rely on – and it’s imperative they’re in a position to facilitate physical activity the moment they can.”

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England

Key findings from today’s two publications include: 

  • 3.2 million (44.9%) children met the CMO guidelines and did an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day when averaged across the year. But the number of active children decreased by 1.9% compared to the same period 12 months ago.
  • The number of physically active children and young people fell by more than 100,000 in the summer term (down 2.3% compared to the same period 12 months ago).
  • Restrictions, while impacting everyone, hit certain demographic groups harder than others:
    • Gender: Across the whole academic year, boys (47%) remained more likely to be active than girls (43%). However, girls adapted better than boys to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. During the summer term, girls’ activity levels increased by 2.4%, with just over 100,000 more girls meeting the recommended level of physical activity across mid-May to late-July compared to summer 2019.
    • Family affluence: there remains a large gap in activity levels between children from less affluent and more affluent families.
    • Ethnicity: the gap between the numbers of active children from White British (54%) and Asian (46%) and Black (32%) backgrounds grew during the summer term.   

Click here for a policy briefing which provides an overview of what we’ve learned from the findings. For more information about the survey (with links to the published data) and how Sport England are working to keep our nation’s children active, please visit our website: https://www.sportengland.org/activeliveschildren20

Join Sport England to launch our new 10-year strategy

Sport England’s mission to help as many people as possible to get active is more important than ever, and a unified and collaborative approach is essential.

Our new long-term strategy seeks to help the brilliant people and organisations who deliver sport and physical activity to recover from the massive challenges of the past year and to look beyond Covid-19 to tackle the biggest issues of the next decade.

We’d love you to join us to hear how together, we can do this. Please register to secure your place at our online event on Tuesday 26th January, 10AM-11.45AM, by clicking here: https://sportengland.splashthat.com/

Can you help to keep the nation active?

In the meantime, we’d be really grateful if you could share the following on your channels to help keep the nation active:

  • Join the Movement, Sport England’s £3.5m National Lottery-funded campaign, is encouraging children and young people to stay active despite the current restrictions and has played an important role in helping to motivate and provide guidance on how to find free, accessible activities: https://www.sportengland.org/jointhemovement
  • Sport England’s breakdown of the key guidelines and a range of useful FAQs remains available on our website: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/coronavirus

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