Wales’ Biggest - Ever Children’s Survey Shows Gap is Closing for Under Represented Groups

New figures show that the number of children with a disability or from certain ethnic minority groups who are regularly taking part in sport is on the rise 

More 7 to 16-year-old children from under-represented groups are taking part in sport three or more times a week, according to new figures from Sport Wales'School Sport Survey. Over 120,000 children from schools across Wales took part in the survey, sharing insight into their sporting habits, general health and wellbeing.

Traditionally the lowest participating ethnic minority group, over a third of Asian British pupils (40%) have stated that they are taking part in sport more than three times a week in addition to PE lessons.  That's compared to 36% in the last survey in 2015. 


Ethnic Groups








Asian/Asian British




Black/Black British




Mixed Race












Taking part at least 3 times a week 2013-18 split by ethnic background


The hike is even bigger for pupils with a disability or impairment, with 45% saying they take part at least three times a week, in addition to timetabled PE lessons, compared to 40% back in 2015.  The increase demonstrates there is now just a 3 percentage point participation gap between those who have a disability and those who do not. 

It is children from the most deprived areas however that are bucking the positive trend.  Just 42% take part in sport three or more times a week in addition to PE lessons, down from 43% in 2015.  Whereas 55% of those in the least deprived areas take part at least 3 times a week in addition to their timetabled PE lessons.

Wales (Content)

Overall levels of participation in sport have remained stable since the last survey with just below half of school children (48%) saying they take part three times a week or more in addition to timetabled PE lessons, yet a whopping 96% of pupils say they want to do more.

Commenting on the figures, Owen Hathway, Head of Insight and Policy at Sport Wales, said:

"It's really encouraging to see the rise in numbers of children from under-represented groups taking part in sport. We know that a lot of work has been carried out across the sector with partners such as Disability Sport Wales and BME Sport Cymru to further engage these specific groups of young people who want the opportunity to get involved in sport.

"There is however, still a lot of work to be done.  There are still groups where the gap is not closing, and for those where things look to be improving, we need to continue our efforts to make sport as accessible as possible.

"The challenge is engaging all those who have said they want to do more. We need to take into consideration what motivates young people to get involved in sport and what keeps them coming back. It's about more than numbers, it's about what sport contributes to an individual's life.

"It's crucial that we start to work with partners both in and out of the sport sector to use the data for developing new, tailored approaches so we can look at making an increase across all groups."

Looking at motivating factors, enjoyment is often key. However, this year enjoyment levels of sport, both inside and outside of school, are down slightly (enjoyment of PE has fallen from 65% in 2015 to 63% in 2018) which Sport Wales are keen to work with partners to address.

Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said:

"Enjoyment is such an important factor in ensuring sport becomes a part of someone's life. Without it, there is no hope of them having a positive lifelong relationship with sport. Getting that introduction to sport right at school age is key as we know if they don't enjoy it as children, the likelihood of them enjoying it later in life is lower.

"We need to remember what people told us during the development of the Vision for Sport in Wales - they want variety, they want more accessible and less competitive sporting options, and they want to have fun.

"Whether it's introducing less traditional sports into the curriculum or working with teachers to provide them with the tools to deliver a more engaging sporting offer, these are the things that will keep people coming back and will encourage them to stay active throughout their lives. Working with education and our other targeted partners, I'm confident that we can realise this vision and get that offering at school level right."

This year's School Sport Survey also found that:

  • 80% of pupils are confident in trying a new activity
  • 59% of children are members of a sport club
  • On average 99 minutes per week are allocated to PE in schools in Wales, which is below the 2-hour recommendation from Welsh Government

To access the full report please visit