Closing the gap

Enjoyment. It’s what most of us in the sport, physical activity and PE world first think of when it comes to taking part in sport. After all, if we don’t enjoy it, what’s the point? Sadly, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Today, This Girl Can relaunches This Girl Can With You with a loud call to action to focus on closing the enjoyment gap for women and girls. Their research shows that 2.4 million fewer women than men strongly agree they enjoy getting active – this is the enjoyment gap.

The enjoyment gap is also very evident in schools. The 2021-22 Sport England Active Lives Children and Young People survey shows a near 20% difference in enjoyment between boys (56.8%) and girls (38.1%) who strongly agree they enjoy taking part in sport and exercise. Enjoyment declines further with age to just 33% of girls in years 9-11.

The Youth Sport Trust’s Girls Active programme funded by Sport England helps schools to understand what motivates girls to take part and how to increase their enjoyment levels. It demonstrates the positive impact that can be achieved to reduce girls fear of judgement, build their confidence and increase their enjoyment levels. It also positively impacts the way in which teachers approach their role and relationships with students.

“We are really trying to be more inclusive as a school. We are thinking a lot about self-confidence and trying to understand where girls are coming from when they are not very confident in sport.” Teacher

“The group that I picked…typical ‘I don’t like PE cohort’. We did loads on how you can change your thought processes. Today my lesson is completely different to how it would have been 6 months ago. They are all now much more engaged in the lessons and more willing to take on the leadership roles which is really good, and they are actually more confident in doing it.” Teacher

Reducing the gap in enjoyment and participation levels between boys and girls continues to be a priority for the Youth Sport Trust. We want to help teachers gain vital insight and provide support that helps increase girls’ engagement and enjoyment in PE, sport and physical activity. To support this in March, primary and secondary schools in England can participate in our Girls Active survey. Each school will receive:

  • an individual school insight report
  • access to free Girls Active resources, teacher training modules and tools.

Please go to our website for full information and to register to take part in this free opportunity.


“It allowed us to see the true view of the students. Quite often some students will just say I don't like PE - it gave them a voice and they liked that it was anonymous. It has been great to use as feedback as how we are going to close the gap between male and female participation and increased ability. They are much more likely to become better if they enjoy taking part.” - Teacher

Published on 28 February 2023