Thousands of schools mark YST National School Sport Week 2019

Thousands of schools are joining a national campaign led by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust (YST) calling for greater awareness of the importance of sport and Physical Education to young people’s wellbeing.

YST National School Sport Week 2019 runs from today (24 June) to Friday and will see schools as well as sporting organisations, charities and businesses putting on events, sports days and talks.

The week is being themed around the Five Ways to Wellbeing – focusing on how PE and school sport get people active, connecting, giving back, taking notice and learning.

Schools across the UK are using the occasion to send a message about the importance of physical activity at a time when national statistics shows young people’s wellbeing and levels of activity have been in decline.

Tackling a lack of awareness

Only 17.5% of young people are engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity for the 60 minutes every day recommended by the Chief Medical Officer, according to Sport England’s most recent Active Lives survey.

Today, new research carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust, reveals that 68% of UK adults either believe the target is less than 60 minutes or do not know. The research was based on an online sample of 2,071 UK adults. It found that:

  • Almost half (49%) thought children and young people should engage in less than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day
  • Only one in four (25%) correctly said 60 minutes
  • The average, amongst UK adults who were able to give an answer, was 46 minutes.

Building a wellbeing legacy in schools

YST National School Sport Week commences today with a Five Ways to Wellbeing Festival in Trafford, Greater Manchester. The event at Flixton Girls School – part of the Healthy Learning Trust -  will bring together schools from the surrounding area.

YST Wellbeing ambassador Ben Smith, the man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days, will announce details of how his next challenge will aim to build a wellbeing legacy in schools. Thousands of young people will get the opportunity to take part in the challenge though an education programme developed in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust which will aim to inspire and build awareness of the importance of physical activity, and its role in nurturing wellbeing.

Ben’s USA 2020 Challenge will support the work of his 401 Foundation and YST. It will see him run a marathon in every US state capital and cycle between each one – covering 14,001 miles in 104 days and finishing during next year’s YST National School Sport Week.

Highlights of YST National School Sport Week 2019

Other events taking place across the country during YST National School Sport Week 2019 include:

  • More than 60 children with and without SEND from schools across Liverpool will be taking part in inclusive sports like sitting volleyball, new age Kurling, para-badminton, VI athletics, boccia, wheelchair fencing, and goalball to give every child the opportunity to find a sport they love. The Learning and Discovery festival is being held on Tuesday as part of the Department for Education-funded Inclusion 2020 programme.
  • Dozens of MPs in England, Scotland and Wales will be visiting schools in their constituencies to see first-hand the important role that PE and school sport play in education.
  • Sports retailer Decathlon will be marking the first anniversary of its Surrey Quays, London store by putting on an active learning event for local primary school children on Thursday. DC’s Batman will be making Batman themed resources available to schools to encourage physical activity. David Lloyd and Everything Branded are also partnering the week.
  • Children at St Breock Primary School in Wadebridge, Cornwall will be joined by YST Ambassador Ben Smith to unveil a giant sand sculpture themed around the Five Ways to Wellbeing. The sculpture is being built throughout the week and will be completed on Friday.

As well as thousands of schools, the week is also being supported by charities including the Jo Cox Foundation, Association for PE, Manchester City FCs City in the Community, and governing bodies of sport including Swim England, Boccia England and England Netball.

Ben Smith said:

My experience of PE at school was scary. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, like I would never fit in, that I wouldn’t enjoy it and I put so many barriers in place as an excuse not to exercise. Knowing what I know now, this was down to my experience of sport and not having many options to choose from and thinking I needed to be the best. Having found sport later in life, I can now see the power it has to not only build a person’s soul but also the benefits it has on confidence, self-esteem and our overall mental wellbeing. It’s vitally important that every young person has opportunity to enjoy what sport has to offer.

YST Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:

“We’ve seen a worrying trend in recent years of a decline in young people’s physical activity, and a squeeze on time allocated to good quality Physical Education.

“With our new research showing that most people do not know how much physical activity children should be aiming for, it has never been more important to raise awareness of why this is so important.

“Our work with schools across the country all year round shows the power of sport and play to improve young people’s confidence, tackle stress and equip them with the skills to succeed in life.

“It is really encouraging that so many schools and organisations are joining together this YST National School Sport Week to champion the vital importance of PE, school sport and physical activity for every young person. Thank you to all of the schools and partners for making the week such a huge celebration of the positive power of sport for good.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“Playing sport keeps you fit and healthy but it has so many other benefits too, from improving mental wellbeing to building character and resilience. I’m delighted that sport’s real power to change lives is being recognised during National School Sport Week – and it is my ambition for every child, no matter their ability or background, to have the opportunity to find a sport they love.

“Our School Sport Action Plan will encourage even more pupils to get active, building on the £320-million-a-year PE and Sport premium we invest in primary schools to help them deliver this vital curriculum subject to the highest standards. We are also making health education compulsory from 2020 which will ensure all pupils learn about the important link between exercise, physical health and mental wellbeing.” 

Ryan Oates, PE teacher at St Lawrence Academy in Scunthorpe, said:

“At the St Lawrence academy we are really passionate about building a learning climate that uses sport as a key way to develop the essential skills and characteristics that a young person needs for a healthy and successful lifestyle.

“As a result, this year’s YST National School Sport Week theme was really appealing for us to seek even further ways that we can engage and enthuse our students through the vehicle of sport. It is so vital we can develop resilient, motivated and confident young people and hopefully we have created an itinerary for the week that will capture the imagination of all our young people, raise awareness to ways they can get involved and active, and through some special moments create even greater ‘togetherness’ amongst our St Lawrence academy community.”

For more information about the week visit Live action can be followed across social media using #NSSW.

Published on 24 June 2019