Children's activity levels down - Time for culture shift in approach and deliver Oven Ready Plan!
Posted: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 15:34
Sport England released their latest activity level figures this week
Two new reports show that activity levels were increasing during the autumn 2019 term but, as expected, dropped across the spring and summer 2020 terms due to disruption caused by the storms and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their press release went on to say "Thanks to the dedication and resourcefulness of parents, teachers, coaches and organisations who deliver activities, children and young people were generally successful in adapting their habits to include new forms of exercise, though the types of activity they were able to do changed drastically"
Key findings from today's two publications include:
- 3.2 million (44.9%) children met the CMO guidelines and did an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day when averaged across the year. But the number of active children decreased by 1.9% compared to the same period 12 months ago.
- The number of physically active children and young people fell by more than 100,000 in the summer term (down 2.3% compared to the same period 12 months ago).
- Restrictions, while impacting everyone, hit certain demographic groups harder than others:
- Gender: Across the whole academic year, boys (47%) remained more likely to be active than girls (43%). However, girls adapted better than boys to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. During the summer term, girls' activity levels increased by 2.4%, with just over 100,000 more girls meeting the recommended level of physical activity across mid-May to late-July compared to summer 2019.
- Family affluence: there remains a large gap in activity levels between children from less affluent and more affluent families.
- Ethnicity: the gap between the numbers of active children from White British (54%) and Asian (46%) and Black (32%) backgrounds grew during the summer term.
- Sadly the problem of inactivity and specifically the inequalites amonmgst the population are once again exposed by these figures. If we are not careful we look for maringal improvments as a sign that things might be working. But given the scale of the problem - a majority of children are not active enough - marginal improvment is really not good enough.
- The 2020s and the post pandemic world when schools reopen has to be the time for a cultural shift in our attitudes to this ticking timebomb of inactivity. We know our children will be the first generation to see their life expectancy reduce compared our generation if action is not taken. The Marmot review has already highlighted stagnating life expacancy amongst the most disadvanted.
- I know we usually ask for realistic and specific policy tweaks - like opneing up schools or a little more resource here and there but now is the time to put physical activity at the heart of government policy with leadership from the top.
- We know the consequences of and long term prognosis for the 2.3million young people who are not even managing 30 minutes of activity a day.
- I still support the notion that every child has the right to be active - and it is our job to make that possible in every community across the country. Warm words and platitudes are no longer good enough. A good starting point would be to get out the School Sport and Activity Action plan which was developed and ready for implementation in 2019. It needs an update and some of the timidity removing. But let's get behind something that really is oven ready!