Students urge Shadow Education Secretary to prioritise physical activity

The Sports Leaders at Kepier School set out to Bridget Phillipson their belief that the time for change is now.

With a general election on the horizon and parties on the search for policies to put into their manifestos, now is a crucial time for engaging with political leaders.

With that in mind, we were delighted to visit Kepier School in Houghton Le Spring, near Sunderland, for a session with some of the school’s Sports Leaders and local MP Bridget Phillipson, who is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

As a former Sports College and part of the Well Schools network, Kepier fully embraces role that physical activity can play in supporting positive physical and mental health. In addition to delivering high-quality PE, their approach includes a comprehensive co-curricular offer that aims to give children free access to a range of different activities to encourage them to develop a passion for sport.

Kepier’s Sports Leaders led a Q&A with Bridget, asking how a future Labour government would provide opportunities for all children and young people to be active, as well as sharing their own experiences. This included highlighting the wide-ranging benefits of PE, sport and play including improved physical, mental and social wellbeing, skills development and fostering a sense of belonging.

Our Chief Executive Ali Oliver was part of the discussion and explained how our recent manifesto – developed in collaboration with organisations from a number of different sectors – puts forward a vision for empowering every child to be physically active for 60 minutes each day, as recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.

At present, too many children are inactive and are missing out as a result. This is not because of a lack of enthusiasm, and the onus is on policy makers to take action so that every child can achieve 60 active minutes a day, of PE, sport and play.

There is so much evidence showing why being physically active is so important at every age, but especially for children and young people for whom early participation can help embed positive habits for life. At a time of economic constraint, increasing levels of activity can also act as a preventative early, low-cost intervention that can support challenges around obesity and mental health, as well as attendance, attainment and behaviour.

Hearing the Sports Leaders articulate how being physically active has supported their development was incredibly powerful and empowering youth voices and young leaders to share their experiences and advocate for change is central to our approach. Kepier’s Sports Leaders set out to Bridget their belief that the time for change is now, and this is a message we will echo in our advocacy work in the months ahead. 

Published on 9 February 2024