The social value of free physical activity in schools

Free to access school sport and physical activity is most valuable to those who are least likely to access it outside of the school environment, including children who are disabled or receiving free school meals.

New analysis released during Mental Health Awareness Week by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, for the first time places an economic value on the critical importance of free-to-access school sport and physical activity for a child’s mental wellbeing. Find out more from our press release.

Headline findings

  • This is the first study to investigate the relationship between Physical Activity (PA) in and out of school (primary and secondary) and personal wellbeing
  • We find that already being motivated and enjoying sport and activity accounts for at least half the wellbeing benefits at secondary school age: thus, generating and creating that motivation and enjoyment at primary school age is of vital, lifelong benefit
  • Those more active out of school are from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, likely because such activity tends to have significant costs (clubs, kit, lessons, travel etc.)
  • Those doing less than 30 minutes of PA a week are more likely to be eligible for Free School Meals (FSM)
  • The wellbeing impact of free PA at school is almost double for those children who are disabled and/or receiving FSM than for those who aren’t
  • Using the new, Treasury recommended measure of wellbeing - the WELLBY, the economic value of providing PA in primary schools is at least £4bn, and likely to be more than double this figure.

Download full report

Click below to download the full insight report.

Published on 13 May 2024