Sport England announces: “children enjoy being active most when it is fun”

By Llara Munn on March 27th, 2019 - comments

More than 130,000 children and young people were surveyed in the academic year 2017-18 for the Active Lives study, which also included a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, which asked children about their attitudes towards sport and physical activity.

The analysis of the results has now identified five key findings on the attitudes of children towards sport and physical activity.

The five key findings are:

1. Physically literate children do twice as much activity. The more of the five elements of physical literacy – enjoyment, confidence, competence, understanding and knowledge – children have, the more active they are.

2. Enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels. Despite the majority of children (68%) understanding that sport and activity is good for them, understanding had the least impact on activity levels.

3. Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult).

4. Physical literacy decreases with age. As children grow older, they report lower levels of enjoyment, confidence, competence, and understanding. Previous research from Sport England shows that activity levels drop when children reach their teenage years.

5. Girls are less likely to say they enjoy or feel confident about doing sport and physical activity.

These results underpin the importance of play and enjoyment in the promotion and provision of physical activity.

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth called for everyone involved in a child’s activity level to ensure that enjoyment is “at the heart of anything they do” he continued: “The fact that a third of children aren’t nearly as active as they need to be demonstrates that we need to do things differently.
“We must prioritise physical literacy with the same vigour that we address numeracy and literacy. Doing so could not only help teaching and learning outcomes, it could be hugely beneficial for the physical and mental health of our children.”

Physical literacy is a combination of a person’s enjoyment, confidence, competence (how easy they find it), understanding (that it is beneficial) and knowledge (knowing how to get involved and improve).

Physically literate children and young people are happier, the findings uncovered that those who strongly agree that they enjoy taking part have an average happiness score of 7.7 out of 10, however this falls to 4.5 for those who strongly disagree. Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult).

The Government’s Sporting Future strategy identified that: “Opportunity for children to take part in and develop a love of sport and physical activity is vital to ensuring their long-term enjoyment and participation.”

To view the full report please click here.