Schools play key role in tackling 'crisis of inactivity'

Schools must grasp the wider academic and health benefits of PE and sport if they are to help tackle a crisis of inactivity amongst young people, Baroness Sue Campbell has warned.

Schools must grasp the wider academic and health benefits of PE and sport if they are to help tackle a crisis of inactivity amongst young people, Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust has today warned.

Speaking ahead of the Youth Sport Trust's National Conference, Baroness Campbell stated that whilst some schools fully understand the transformational impact that PE and sport can have on young people, there are many that are missing the opportunity.

The conference, at the Telford International Centre, takes place from 5-6 February and will feature discussion on the key issues in the PE and school sport sector including a focus on how schools make maximum use of the Government's £150m a year investment for primary schools.

"In the UK, and across the globe, we are facing a crisis of inactivity. The onset of sedentary lifestyles and time pressures both inside and outside of school mean that many young people are not being encouraged to lead healthy, active lives." said Baroness Campbell.

"The costs of physical inactivity are plain for all to see - childhood obesity levels continue to dominate the headlines, and we know that being inactive increases the risk of developing a host of other chronic conditions.

"However, being inactive not only adversely affects children's physical health, it can also undermine their mental and emotional wellbeing, and limit their ability to achieve in all areas of school life.

"A healthy, active child is more likely to perform better academically across all subjects; they will be more confident individuals; have greater employability skills, and are far more likely to have higher levels of self esteem.

"It is important that headteachers understand these benefits and use PE and sport creatively across their schools. Whilst many schools, including those at our conference, understand how to use PE and sport to make a much wider impact, others are missing the opportunity and risk not tackling some of the major issues facing young people.

"The Government investment in primary PE and sport announced last year can make a significant difference in schools if spent wisely. I firmly believe that headteachers should focus this money on up skilling their teaching workforce to ensure sustainable improvements in PE can be made."

The Youth Sport Trust National Conference, which is sponsored by Technogym, will be attended by 500 headteachers and school sport professionals.

Among the speakers this year will be Education Minister, Edward Timpson MP; Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health; disability sport pioneer and 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, and Professor Steve Peters, a Consultant Psychiatrist and University Senior Clinical Lecturer.

Edward Timpson, Minister responsible for school sport, said:

"We know just how important it is to engender a love of sport in children from an early age, which they can then carry with them throughout their lives. That's why this government is giving more than £150m per year to primary schools to spend on improving sport and PE, and trusting headteachers to spend it on what they think will benefit their pupils most.

"We've also introduced a cadre of specialist primary PE teachers, ensured PE remains a compulsory subject, and our new curriculum puts competitive sport back at the heart of school life. Our reforms are giving every child the opportunities they need to be fit and healthy to develop their physical literacy and to reach their sporting potential."  

At the conference this year the Youth Sport Trust will be highlighting its commitment to getting girls more active, unveil plans for new Sporting Promise Awards, which are supported by Matalan and Sporting Pro, and discuss the new youth partnership involving the Youth Sport Trust, The Rugby Football Union and England Rugby 2015.

There will also be a range of workshops led by industry professionals who will offer delegates a range of inspirational ways of getting young people involved in PE and sport.

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