Summary of the political manifestos

Throughout the week, as the political parties have been releasing their manifestos we’ve been drawing out the relevant proposals relating to children and young people’s physical activity and wellbeing, as well as broader plans for education and sport.

If you’ve missed them, you can find them all here.*

Today, we’ll be looking at how the ideas being put forward at the election respond to the challenges and solutions included within our manifesto for action, developed in collaboration with insights from many organisations and published earlier this year. Underpinning the five themes below was an overarching ambition to guarantee every child access to 60 minutes a day of PE, sport and play by creating a nation of active and well schools.

A dedicated coordination and delivery team

We see a dedicated coordination and delivery team as integral to delivering opportunities to be active, working across a family of schools in every community. The Conservative Party’s manifesto states plans to increase funding for School Games Organisers, as well as an ambition to work with sporting bodies to create more UK-wide competitions like the National Finals in order to identify the best sporting talents.

A national wellbeing measurement for children

Whilst our recommendation for a new national wellbeing measurement for children has not been explicitly echoed in manifestos, all parties propose action to improve this generation’s wellbeing. Proposals to increase support for mental health in schools include mental health professionals in every school (Labour and the Liberal Democrats), and mental health support teams to cover all schools and colleges (Conservatives.) There is similar consensus for increasing access to community support, with the Conservatives aiming to open early support hubs for those aged 11-25 in every local community by the end of the decade, Labour increasing access to support through Young Futures Hubs, and the Liberal Democrats planning the delivery of mental health hubs for young people in every community.

Moving beyond mental health support, both Labour and the Conservatives plan to stop future generations from being able to legally buy cigarettes, with the Liberal Democrats echoing the two parties in calling for restrictions on the marketing and sale of vapes. Labour and the Liberal Democrats agree on proposals to deliver supervised toothbrushing in schools, with the Green Party proposing funding for community hubs and primary care to roll out free dental nursing for children. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats also want to reduce junk food advertising to children and put forward ideas for improving online safety for children. In addition, the Liberal Democrats propose the creation of a Health Creation Unit based in the Cabinet, tasked with improving health and tackling health inequalities.

Protect spaces for play and physical activity and deliver co-curricular sport

Our manifesto was clear that supporting all children to achieve their 60 daily active minutes requires access to places and spaces for play, as well as co-curricular sport. The Green Party proposes the investment of £5bn for community sports, arts and culture as well as a commitment to keeping facilities open. Liberal Democrats plan to expand the provision of extracurricular activities including sport, with a new, free entitlement introduced for disadvantaged children. The party also wants to invest in leisure centres, swimming pools and grassroots facilities and support campaigns to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within sport.

The Conservative Party commits to maintaining the pace of investment through the Multi-Sport Grassroots Facilities programme and ensuring that equal access is at the heart of this, whilst also supporting programmes encouraging disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces. And Labour aspires to support grassroots clubs in expanding access to sport, as well as using international events to inspire the next generation and promote exercise and healthy living. Meanwhile, there is cross-spectrum support for growing active travel, with all parties including plans to expand access to active travel networks and increase their usage.

Reimagine PE to develop physically literate children

Our manifesto called for PE to be reimagined and made a core subject, giving every child access to two hours a week alongside measures to improve teaching and experiences.  The Conservative Party plans to mandate two hours of PE in primary and secondary schools by extending the PE and Sport Premium to include secondary schools, whilst the Labour Party commits to protecting time for PE within schools. In addition, Labour wants to cap the number of branded items of PE kits schools can require to alleviate financial pressures on parents.

There is consensus that the future of education must include a broad curriculum, language consistent across the three largest party’s manifestos. Labour wants to see an expert-led review of curriculum and assessment which is broad and innovative, including providing access to creative or vocational subjects to age 16. The Liberal Democrats call for a standing commission to build a consensus for a broad curriculum across parties, with a focus on critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity. Meanwhile, the Conservatives aim to deliver a broad and enriched curriculum during and after the school day.

Formalise existing youth sport leadership opportunities

Our final proposal was for existing youth sport leadership opportunities to be drawn together in a national young sport volunteers programme delivering year-round social action. Whilst there was little directly aligned to this ambition, manifestos have included ideas for increasing volunteering, youth opportunities and youth voice such as the Liberal Democrat’s proposal for a Cabinet Minister for children and young people and the incorporation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into UK law, and Conservative plans for a new National Service to give young people life skills.


Is encouraging to see the political parties putting forward ideas for using physical activity including PE, school sport and play to improve children’s wellbeing. With less than half of children (47%) achieving the recommended 60 active minutes a day, action is needed now to unlock the potential of physical activity to change lives. We look forward to working closely with our partners to influence whoever forms the next government, building on the ideas put forward in our collaborative manifesto to increase physical activity levels so we can develop a happier and healthier generation.

* Reform UK has yet to release their manifesto, a review of their platform will be provided in due course.

Published on 14 June 2024