Generation of young people being deprived of vital play time

'It is likely to be no coincidence that this decline in play time and PE comes at a time when schools are warning of a growing mental health crisis'

New research published today shows that school break times have been getting shorter over the past two decades, with teachers trying to pack more lessons into the day.

Responding to the findings, Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver, said:

A generation of young people are being deprived of the lifelong benefits that come from being physically active. This worrying and short-sighted trend of cuts to break times comes in addition to large numbers of schools reducing curriculum time for pupils’ Physical Education. Our own research found that two in five secondary schools had recently cut the amount of PE on the timetable. This has been the damaging impact of budget pressures and school accountability being too heavily focused on exam results.

“By reducing time for play, young people are being denied opportunities to connect and develop essential life skills. There is also a growing body of research which shows that being active helps the brain to concentrate and learn.

“It is likely to be no coincidence that this decline in play time and PE comes at a time when schools are warning of a growing mental health crisis.

“The development of young people’s physical literacy and provision of opportunities to enjoy sport, play and physical activity should be an essential part of every good education. This is why a transformed Physical Education must be put on a par with Maths and English in the curriculum.”

The Youth Sport Trust's National School Sport Week will take place this summer (24 to 28 June) placing a focus on the power of Physical Education and school sport to improve young people’s wellbeing. Find out more or sign up via

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