We respond to Rishi Sunak's plans to boost children's physical activity

Youth Sport Trust welcomes the importance Mr. Sunak is placing on PE and sport.

The former Chancellor has shared that as Prime Minister, he would want to boost physical activity in schools, allowing Ofsted to assess schools on their PE lessons, and develop plans to help girls and women to take part in more sporting activities.

Responding to the proposed plans, Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver MBE, said:

"Unhappy, unhealthy children don’t learn. Schools need to be active places and physical development is as important to a child’s future as their numeracy and literacy. We are delighted by Mr. Sunak’s commitment to physical education and school sport at such an important political moment and a time when the nation is thinking about the legacy of London 2012, the Euros and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, to build back children’s wellbeing and resilience after the pandemic and balance the demands of the digital age, a broader societal change is needed to reclaim play and sport so its contribution to physical and mental health, social development and learning in the classroom are understood and pursued.

"This year we saw the biggest ever increase in childhood obesity: one in four Year 6s are now obese and rates of probable health disorders have gone up to one in six for 5-16 year-olds – all at a time when we have seen huge cuts to time on the curriculum for physical education and a decline in school sport, particularly in secondary schools. The evidence is unequivocal that children who are active every day are healthier, happier, more resilient and more trusting – surely this is what we want as a nation.

"It is policy that has driven a narrowing of the curriculum and that is what must change – we need to genuinely understand and value a broad, rich curriculum that amplifies the knowledge, skills and understanding children need today. We hope the new Prime Minister will take bold steps and set an ambition for every child to be active for 60 minutes a day, guidance developed by the Chief Medical Officers of the UK. This must include a bigger commitment to the place and importance of physical education at the heart of the curriculum, access to a free after school sports programme for every child and, importantly, greater support for families, with a recognition that 77% of parents are concerned that children are not getting enough physical activity."

Published on 26 July 2022