Knowledge Bank

Welcome to the YST Knowledge Bank. The evidence collated here has helped to inform our strategy and drive us to build back happier, healthier and more resilient young people.

The Knowledge Bank contains key statistics and evidence about young people and physical activity, play and sport. It is updated on a regular basis to make sure it contains the latest information. There is a lot of information, so we’ve pulled out some of the main challenges, issues and benefits below.

If you’d like to see more detail and access the full database, select the 'get started' option to open our full statistics bank. This can be filtered and searched within to help you find the statistics or evidence you are looking for. It includes key topics such as young people's physical, mental and social wellbeing and well as statistics around education and society.

For any questions or feedback please contact [email protected].

Young people's awareness of the benefits they should get from PE and physical activity are in decline

Youth Sport Trust, 2021
Youth Sport Trust, 2021

Challenges young people face

  • Physical ill health
    • Fewer than half of all children and young people in the UK (47%) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity (Sport England, 2022)
    • Almost a quarter (23.4%) of year 6 children are obese (NCMP, 2022).
  • Poor mental wellbeing
    • 18% of children aged 7 to 16 have a probable mental disorder. This increases to 20% for those aged 11-16 (NHS Digital, 2022)
    • The number of children in England needing treatment for mental health problems has risen 39% in a year (PA Media, 2022).
  • Lonely and disconnected
    • Most parents (79%) believe that children are spending too much time online and not enough time with each other (Youth Sport Trust, YouGov, 2022)
    • In 2022, 5.2% of children aged 11-16 years said they often or always felt lonely, this was more than double (12.6%) for those young people aged 17-22 years (NHS Digital, 2022).
  • Increased inequality
    • Young people from low affluence families are less likely to be active compared to those from medium and high affluence families (Sport England, 2022)
    • Over a fifth of young people from poorer backgrounds (21%) think their life will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try (Princes Trust, 2022).

Issues in schools

  • The number of PE teachers in England reduced by 8.8% between 2011 and 2021 (Gov UK, 2022)
  • 91% of teachers report that their job has adversely affected their mental health in the last 12 months (NASUWT, 2022)
  • Whilst we’ve seen small increases in PE hours in the last two years, PE hours are still significantly lower than 10 years ago – a reduction of 11% from 326,277 to 290,033 since 2011. This reduction is mainly driven by a reduction in PE hours for KS4 – down 20% in the last 10 years (Department for Education and Office for National Statistics, 2022).

We are losing PE hours - the amount of PE in schools is significantly lower than it was 10 years ago

Youth Sport Trust, 2022
Youth Sport Trust, 2022

Benefits of physical activity, play and sport

  • There is a positive association between levels of sport and physical activity and young peoples’ mental wellbeing, resilience, community development and reduced loneliness (Sport England, 2022)
  • 91% of primary and 63% of secondary aged pupils said being active helps them learn (spear, 2021)
  • There is a positive link between physical activity and emotional regulation. Physical activity positively predicts academic achievement through self-regulation (Vasilopoulos et al. 2021).

Society's perceptions

  • Just over half (52%) of practitioners feel that PE, school sport or physical activity is seen as a priority within school (Youth Sport Trust, 2022)
  • 32% of parents said that they have positive experience of PE. These parents were more likely to say their children enjoyed PE at school than those who didn’t have positive experience of PE (63% vs 35%) (Youth Sport Trust, 2022)
  • 61% of parents do not understand what is meant by the term physical literacy (Youth Sport Trust, 2022)
  • 86% of parents believe that sport and play are important parts of every young person’s education and development (Youth Sport Trust, 2022).

Key Factsheets

The following downloads summarise our top 10 statistics on key topics. We are regularly updating these and adding new topics. If there are any topics you would like to see, please get in touch.

Benefits of physical activity

Coming Soon

Cost of living


Girls' participation

Coming Soon

Knowledge Bank

Click here to download the full knowledge bank of key statistics and evidence. Use the filters to help find key statistics to support you.