children & young people

Young people deprived of vital play time

Cuts to PE and break times are depriving young people of the lifelong benefits that come from being physically active, says Ali Oliver, CEO of the Youth Sport Trust.

A STUDY by University College London’s Institute of Education has shown that school break times have been getting shorter over the past two decades, with teachers trying to pack more lessons into the day.

Meanwhile, Youth Sport Trust’s (YST) 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 comes at a time when too many young people are inactive, obesity rates are going up, mental health issues are increasing, and there is a need for growing resilience and other

employability skills among this generation. We work with thousands of schools across the country and believe that unless we reverse the slide and refresh physical education, we risk failing a generation who will be denied the benefits of a revitalised PE offer.

an active school day

It is likely to be no coincidence that a decline in play time and PE comes at a time when schools are also warning of a growing mental health crisis. Children need to be active not just in physical education and sports, but during lunch hours, through after-school activities, and via active classroom environments. Only through this approach can young people achieve the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of 60 active minutes for all five to 16-year-olds. One of the ways schools can help to keep physical activity on the curriculum is by embedding physical activity across the school day.

We want to create a real step-change in public attitudes towards PE and support schools to protect its time on the curriculum. We encouraged as many schools and partners as possible to sign up to this year’s YST National School Sport Week. Our annual awareness week took place between 24 to 28 June and placed a focus on the power of 25

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