The Youth Sport Trust welcomes the recent ‘Game Changers’ report from the Centre for Social Justice that calls for students in secondary schools to do two hours of after-school sport a week. Current physical activity levels amongst young people are a matter of immediate, national concern and it’s positive that this report has backing from both major parties. The report cites an overview of studies by Cambridge University researchers which found that sports programmes cut offending by 52 per cent as well as helping to prevent child obesity.
The report was backed by former and current England rugby stars Lawrence Dallaglio and Courtney Lawes and recommends a “right to sport” for young people, including a minimum two hours a week of extracurricular games for all secondary pupils, doubling the current recommendations for PE during the school week. The £1.4 billion cost of the scheme could be paid for by a levy on Premier League transfers, a surcharge on bank profits and a tax on vaping, it argues.
Commenting on the report, Ali Oliver, CEO of Youth Sport Trust said:
“Ensuring children and young people meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of 60 minutes a day of activity is crucial in enabling them to become healthy, happy learners who develop and foster healthy habits throughout life. We welcome this latest report from the Centre for Social Justice, outlining the need for at least two additional hours a week of extra-curricula sporting activity, delivered on top of the two hours of PE time outlined in the Government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan.
“Sport and physical activity have an incredibly important role to play, equipping young people with skills like resilience, emotional control and confidence, alongside developing a sense of belonging and positive engagement in school. However, delivering a programme which offers 2 hours of after-school sport will require a nationally coordinated, locally embedded delivery network to connect schools with local providers and build partnerships with community organisations. This type of structure and local leadership has been proven to increase opportunities and participation, examples include the former School Sport Partnerships, and the School Games Organisers today who deliver 2.9 million competitive sporting opportunities nationally across 450 local clusters of schools.
“In a rapidly changing world with increasingly sedentary and on-line lifestyles, it is important that as many voices from across the political spectrum as possible make the crucial argument, that children and young people should have the opportunity to take part in sport, be active and play, before, throughout and after the school day.
We know this not only helps tackle obesity and youth offending, but the evidence supports it’s impact on mental health, and engagement and learning in school.”
The Youth Sport Trust is working closely with think tanks and representatives of all political parties to influence thinking and policy ideas at this important time. We will be launching a Manifesto for Action, for PE and School Sport in January 2024.