Engaging Girls

Public Health England commissioned the Youth Sport Trust and Loughborough University to conduct action research, informed by the findings of a literature review, which considered what works to increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviour in girls aged 8-10 years.

The research builds on the findings of ‘The Tipping Point’ report as well as the principles set out in ‘what works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity’. This report outlines the action research methodology and highlights the key findings from the literature review. It provides suggestions for schools to consider when seeking to engage less-active 8-10 year old girls in physical activity. 

The following recommended approaches for engaging less-active girls aged 8-10 years have been distilled from the results of this study. 

  • CONSULT WITH LESS-ACTIVE GIRLS
    As a starting point and ongoing two-way process, this is essential to understanding girls’ needs, giving them ownership of physical activities, and helping to build trust.
  • ENGAGE PARENTS
    Involving parents/carers is a key ingredient for successful implementation. Lack of parental support can impede girls from being more physically active.
  • TRAIN SCHOOL STAFF
    Time out for staff to reflect, formulate ideas and plan the intervention is vital.
  • MAKE IT RELEVANT
    Understand and explore the factors that prevent less-active girls from being active.
  • INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
    Provide opportunities throughout the school day, in PE lessons and at break times for less active girls to be physically active.
  • IDENTIFY AND PROMOTE POSITIVE ROLE MODELS
    A variety of positive sporting role models can have a powerful effect on children’s attitudes to physical activity.
  • PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS TO BE LEADERS
    Provide less-active girls with opportunities to demonstrate leadership and make decisions to increase their effort during PE lessons and physical activity sessions.
  • FOCUS ON FRIENDSHIP AND FUN
    Informal, girls-only physical activity sessions, which focus on fun and enjoyment with friends, are very successful.
  • PROVIDE REWARDS AND RECOGNITION
    To influence girls’ attitudes, recognise and reward effort as well as achievement.
  • USE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY TO ATTAIN PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS
    Interventions with both physical and cognitive components, such as goal-setting, tend to influence children’s levels of physical activity more strongly than those using only one component.

Engaging Girls

Here you can download the full report.

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