Sport England has published the latest official statistics from the Active Lives Children & Young People Survey covering the 2021/22 academic year,.
The annual survey provides the most comprehensive insight and data into the physical activity levels of children and young people (aged 5-16) across England.
The data shows that children & young people’s activity levels have recovered back to pre-pandemic levels. While not universal, the statistics show we are moving in the right direction following a difficult period for population-wide activity.
There are signs of good recovery across a range of activities, though some demographic groups are recovering more slowly than others: why we must have a concerted effort to help all children & young people to access the benefits that sport and physical activity bring.
The growth and recovery of activity levels is testament to everyone working on this mission already, and the data appears to indicate that Sport England and partner programmes – like the Local Delivery Pilots – may have helped to drive faster recovery in certain under-represented groups.
That said, significant inequalities do remain, with the activity levels of children aged 7-9 and black boys in particular remaining lower than prior to the pandemic.
We continue to see a strong positive association between activity levels and mental wellbeing: more active children & young people continue to experience higher levels of wellbeing, despite the decline in mental health across the pandemic. Physically literate children are more likely to be active and to have higher levels of mental wellbeing, but physical literacy levels are yet to recover following the pandemic.
While today’s publication shows positive signs of a recovery in children & young people’s activity levels following the disruption caused by Covid-19, there is clearly more for us all to do.
Building positive experiences for young people and tackling the inequalities that exist across sport and physical activity are key focuses of our Uniting the Movement strategy.
We believe that physical activity is central to happy and healthy lives, and positive experiences at an early age help build the foundations for an active life, so we’re determined to help provide the best opportunities for children & young people to be active in the way that best works for them.
A year ago Sport England set out a plan to deliver Uniting the Movement over 2022-25 and how we will continue to work to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity. We’ve been clear we will focus our efforts on supporting the people and communities that need our help the most to be active, and this will continue into 2023.