Out of school activities improve children’s educational attainment, study reveals

YST welcomes a report from UCL’s Institute of Education which identifies that participating in organised sports and joining after school clubs can help to improve academic performance and social skills.

The Youth Sport Trust today welcomes a report from UCL’s Institute of Education which identifies that participating in organised sports and joining after school clubs can help to improve primary school children’s academic performance and social skills.

Youth Sport Trust, director of external relations, Phil Chamberlain said: “It is fantastic to have such a wealth of research to highlight the importance of sport in schools to help young people achieve their potential. We know from experience the huge difference that school sports clubs can make to young people’s lives.”

The Youth Sport Trust delivers a number of programmes for extra-curricular sporting activities, including working in partnership with the Department of Health and Sport England to develop a network of 13,500 Change4Life Clubs in schools in England, giving young people the confidence and competence to take part in lifelong physical activity.

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation the research analysed information on more than 6,400 English children born in 2000-01 (who are being followed by the Millennium Cohort Study) and found that children taking part in organised sports and physical activities at the ages of 5, 7 and 11 were almost one and a half times more likely to reach a higher than expected level in their Key Stage 2 (KS2) maths test at age 11.

The research, which corroborates the Youth Sport Trust’s own position on the relationship between participation and academic achievement, also identified that among disadvantaged children, those who attended after school clubs also fared better than their peers who did not take part in such groups. They achieved on average, a 2-point higher total score in their KS2 assessments in English, maths and science at the end of primary school.

Researchers also discovered that children who participated in organised sports and physical activities at any time during primary school had better social, emotional and behavioural skills than those who did not take part. The study’s lead investigator Dr Emily Tanner identified that: “For children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who have lower take-up of formal out of school activities, school-based clubs appear to offer an affordable and inclusive means of supporting academic attainment.”

Following the recent Budget announcement, that will see money raised by the tax on sugary drinks directed towards both primary PE and funding for secondary after-school activities, the Youth Sport Trust hopes that the evidence of this report will guide responsible investment of this funding to ensure that improvements to academic achievement can be shared across the country by all young people.

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