Girls Active was developed by the Youth Sport Trust as a result of a two-year research and pilot study in 2015, aimed at tackling the negative attitudes that girls have towards their body image, improve their attitude towards PE, and to work with schools to make sport more relevant to girls’ lives. In addition to the programme’s implementation in England, Girls Active has had a strong presence in Northern Ireland from 2016 - to which this report is dedicated to exploring. The Girls Active implementation continues to evolve and be informed by the latest research and insight gathered each year through surveys and monitoring and evaluation. From interviews, focus groups, surveys and evaluations conducted about Girls Active, we can learn from examples of best practice. Examples, further outlined in this report, include:
- Using Girls Active to develop leadership opportunities for girls can improve girls’ understanding of the relevance of the skills acquired through PE, sport and physical activity in their lives.
- Acting upon an appreciation that having fun and being with friends are key motivations for girls to take part in sport, physical education and activity. An appreciation of this can lead to innovative additions to (extra)curricular provision and move away from “traditional” activities.
- Providing CPD opportunities for PE teachers serves to fill a gap in the market and can upskill teachers to be ambassadors for the Girls Active programme.
- Ensuring the programme does not exist in a silo from the rest of the school, and the wider community beyond the school. Forging connections with local authorities, community groups, universities and leisure providers can serve to safeguard the sustainability and contribute to a longer-term impact of the programme.
Furthermore, from the 2019/2020 Girls Active survey, of which was completed by 969 Year 8-14 students, we can also learn about the motivations and barriers to participating in PE, physical activity
and sport. This invaluable insight from this version of the yearly baseline survey shows the challenging and rewarding work that can still be done to empower more girls to lead healthy and active lifestyles.