Earlier this week, the Government released its new Sport Strategy: ‘Get Active: a strategy for the future of sport and physical activity.’
The Strategy sets out an aspiration to use the power of sport and being physically active to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, as well as introducing ambitious national participation targets for children and adults. You can read it in full here.
Key announcements within the Strategy include:
Increasing children and young people’s physical activity levels
The Strategy contains a core ambition for one million more children and young people to be physically active by 2030. This will be supported by a new national campaign, activity to raise awareness of the Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation that children and young people should be active for 60 minutes each day, and specific engagement led by Sport England to understand barriers for under-represented groups.
Reviewing school sport provision to inform a new national scheme
There will be an evaluation of School Games Organisers, which will assess how the programme supports children and young people to be active, as well as how it connects schools and school trusts with the wider sports community. This forms part of a broader review into sport in school (excluding PE), which will include learnings from the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) and Opening School Facilities (OSF) programmes. The review will report back by the end of the 2023/24 academic year to inform the development of a new National Sport Participation Scheme. This scheme will be designed to improve connections between schools and clubs, drive up standards and consistency of coaching, and support teachers whilst simplifying the information that schools receive.
A Task Force to drive effective working across government
A new National Physical Activity Task Force will be created and challenged to ensure tackling inactivity is at the forefront of government decision making. The Task Force will bring together government departments, arm’s length bodies and representatives from the sector to work together, review progress and shape policy development. It will be led by the Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, Sport Minister Stuart Andrew, and former England rugby international Ugo Monye.
The Youth Sport Trust has been heavily involved in the development over the Strategy over the past year. We are pleased to see a number of our suggestions have been incorporated, including:
- Making it a priority to support children and young people be active for 60 minutes a day, backed by a national campaign.
- Introducing a set of national targets and ambitions to provide focus and clarity, and to deliver accountability.
- The evaluation of the School Games Organisers programme, which includes our involvement on the review group through Ali Oliver (CEO) and Emily Reynolds (National Programme Director).
- The new Task Force, which builds on our call to make increasing activity levels for children and young people a priority across government.
- Language throughout which reflects the broad benefits of supporting more people to be physically active including improvements to health and wellbeing, developing stronger communities, protecting the NHS and supporting our economy.
Responding to the new Strategy, Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust said:
“Children and young people face a dual crisis in mental and physical wellbeing, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing cost of living challenges. We believe the scale of the crisis makes this a matter of national concern and requires a comprehensive response. We are therefore pleased the Government’s new Sport Strategy makes it clear, increasing opportunities for young people to be physically active is a priority. However, we know that in order for real change to take place, this Strategy must be supported by a comprehensive delivery plan.
“Whether it is finding a love of movement, improving wellbeing, supporting learning, developing essential life skills, or unlocking a talent in sport, it is vital all young people are given the opportunity to access the life changing benefits of PE, sport and play. This is also crucial to developing and fostering healthy habits throughout life, and producing young people who become positive contributors to their communities and society as a whole.
“The Youth Sport Trust is committed to working with government, and other partners to realise our vision of a future where all children can access their right to play and sport and where physical activity remains fun, inclusive and relevant as they grow and develop. There is much to welcome within the Sport Strategy in support of this ambition and we hope the Strategy’s explicit embrace of the unique power of physical activity to change lives resonates across Whitehall and can inspire the societal shift we, on behalf of young people, are calling for.
“At present, too few children and young people are meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation for children and young people of 60 active minutes each and every day. We therefore welcome the Sport Strategy’s ambitious target of inspiring one million more children and young people to be active by the end of the decade, supported by a national campaign. We have consistently called for a campaign of this nature to raise awareness and drive societal change – building on the success of previous initiatives such as the 5-a-day-campaign - and we are delighted to see this reflected in the strategy.
“Achieving change of this scale will be challenging. Research carried out on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust has shown that only 43% of UK adults and 35% of teachers are aware that children and young people should be active for 60 minutes each day. Making this campaign a success and delivering on the 2030 target depends on raising awareness of the recommendation and instilling a determination to achieve it across these key audiences and the wider population.
“We are delighted to see the inclusion of a new National Sport Participation Partnership Scheme informed by reviews of existing programmes and designed to facilitate sport in and beyond schools. This signals a desire to build on the success of the School Games Organiser (SGO) network, and a commitment to find a new partnership approach which will join up and increase the impact of individual government programmes. The SGO network offers a powerful blueprint on which to build, with specific expertise in developing positive outcomes for young people through sport, harnessing youth voice and engagement and bringing credibility within education by being embedded within schools.
“This should be seen as an opportunity to build on current provision to develop something that is more ambitious and cohesive, using existing facilities, experience and insight from programmes on the ground to shape a future that delivers effectively for everyone. The new scheme should also be driven by a commitment to increasing capability, motivation and opportunity with a particular focus on equal access, and targeting intervention towards communities or areas where activity levels are the lowest.
“We are also pleased to see plans for the creation of a new National Physical Activity Task Force. This is an important step in elevating the profile and importance of increasing activity levels across government, which is crucial to drive effective policy development and implementation. Our hope is the Task Force is given the remit and reach necessary to influence at a cross-departmental level, and to make increasing physical activity levels and improving young people’s wellbeing a key driver of policies and investment across government.
“The national targets contained within the Sport Strategy will unify all of us working within the sector and bring essential urgency and accountability. We will continue to work closely with sector partners to step up to the challenge and empower more young people to be active. Our leadership of the School Sport & Active Sector Partnership provides a vehicle to bring organisations together to support schools with PE, sport and physical activity, and our relationship with Active Partnerships is key to connecting school sport and physical activity to the wider local community. Our role on the National Sector Partners Group also gives us a platform to advocate collectively for the sport, physical activity and active recreation sector.
“Whilst there is much to welcome, we await further information on the implementation and delivery plans needed to fully harness the vast potential of our sector. Success will require further collaboration and partnership working to join up activity at a local and national level and maximise impact and relevance to every community. We stand ready to combine efforts with partners across the country to create a sector which fosters positive relationships with movement and physical activity at every age and stage, and normalises the establishment of active habits for life. In a rapidly changing world with increasingly sedentary and on-line lifestyles, implementing this strategy must be a national priority - young people need this more than ever, and their futures are depending on it.”
On the day the new strategy was released, we shared the joint National Sector Partners Group response to 'Get Active: a strategy for the future of sport and physical activity.' You can read that here.