Government schools’ sport report reveals real state of kids’ health

16 October 2007
A new survey commissioned by the Government has revealed that despite targets on school sport being met a year early, still almost half of pupils no longer take part in competitive sport matches, contributing further to the rise in childhood obesity.

Just 58 per cent of children compete against other teams within their school in sports such as football, netball and rugby with the remaining pupils only likely to be participating in competitive activities on the annual sports day.

The survey also found that while 86 per cent of pupils are getting the recommended minimum two hours' physical education at school each week, the figure for teenagers has dropped to a paltry 67 percent for 15-year-olds and even more dismaying 63 percent for 16-year-olds.

What’s more, it appears that girls in particular are failing to participate fully in structured exercise.

Commenting on the findings, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said: “We need to concentrate on the children who are not taking advantage of these opportunities.

We know that girls, especially as they get older, often stop taking part in sport. But there are some excellent examples around the country like a sports college in Warrington which runs evening fitness classes specifically for mums and daughters.”

His demand for schools to do more to tackle the nation's encroaching obesity crisis came as a survey for 2006/07 commissioned by the Department showed the average pupil spent just one hour and 55 minutes a week in sports classes which was a slight increase on the 103 minutes from the period of 2003/04.

At a time when Britain is at the top of its game following Sunday’s rugby victory over World Cup hosts, France, in the Semi Finals, the report also revealed that one in three schools fail to offer rugby union as a sports option.

However, over the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase in non-traditional sports such as golf (up from 23% to 31%), cycling (up from 34% to 42%), archery (up from 16% to 22%), canoeing (up from 24% to 29%) and orienteering (up from 55% to 59%).

Mr Balls continues: “To make a big difference in child health, we need a new kind of partnership between government, schools and other local services and parents. There’s a role for government in getting regulations right, providing the infrastructure and getting parents to think more about sport and physical fitness. There’s a role for schools in showing leadership. But it’s what parents and kids do at home and after school which matters most.”

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