Assembly Committee Recommends School Sport Enhancements

A series of recommendations to increase the physical activity levels of young people in Wales have been roundly welcomed by Sport Wales.

Raising the priority of sport and physical education in schools is one of the key themes of the National Assembly for Wales Health, Social Care and Sport Committee report, released today.

The 20 recommendations of the cross-party group includes:

  • Making 120 minutes of physical education in schools a minimum statutory requirement.
  • Giving physical education a greater priority in the new curriculum and in Estyn's inspection regime for schools. The inspection framework should include adherence to the 120 minute a week requirement, but also the quality of the physical education experience.
  • A greater emphasis placed on physical activity in the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme.
  • Making Community Focused Schools a reality for everyone, ensuring consistency of access to school facilities for physical activity opportunities beyond school hours across Wales.
  • Ensuring all secondary schools regularly consult pupils on the choice and range of physical activities available to them and ensure their views are taken into account.

A public consultation was carried out as part of the report into Physical Activity of Children and Young People, with Sport Wales providing written evidence, as well as giving evidence at a committee hearing.

PE Boy

Sport Wales chief executive Sarah Powell, who gave evidence to the committee, commented:

"Firstly, I have to thank the committee for the thoroughness of their work and the level of detail they have explored as part of their reporting.

"This work again highlights the number of challenges we face to get people active and the collective approach we need to have in place if we are going to increase activity levels for the benefit of future generations.

"We've been clear at Sport Wales that schools have a vital role to play in getting young people confident, skilled and motivated to enjoy a life that includes sport and physical activity.

"A statutory requirement of 120 minutes of PE, provided by well-trained teaching staff and assessed as part of the Estyn framework would raise the bar in terms of the opportunities and experiences being provided to young people.

"The committee's reference to a quality physical activity experience alongside this statutory requirement for PE is hugely significant."

Other highlights from the report includes the need for public bodies to work together more effectively, and also acknowledge the important role of parents in influencing their children's physical activity.

There are also calls for an agreed national measurement framework for physical activity levels and fitness, greater investment in facilities and promotion of female role models.

Powell added:

"The sport sector in Wales is ahead in many of these areas of work, such as developing the physical literacy element of the new curriculum and providing a voice to young people through the School Sport Survey and the growth the of the Young Ambassador movement. The report gives real weight to these pieces of work and we're keen to look at how we can develop them further in partnership and really embed them in life in and outside school for the benefit of young people.

"New investment like the Healthy and Active Fund and the additional £5m investment in sporting facilities announced by Welsh Government recently are real strides forward.

"I was pleased to note the committee's reference to the impact of physical activity on mental health and well-being in particular, just weeks after we revealed our own research into the significant impact on the nation's health."

For the full report click here.