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Swimming Insights

The Fingerprint of Swimming in Wales - School Sport Survey 2018

Overview of Swimming from the National Survey for Wales 2017/18



Elements of Engagement

Sport Wales has commissioned and undertaken a multitiude of quantitative and qualitative research projects to help us understand why some people frequently take part in sport, while others remain inactive or drop out. The findings of these projects consistently point to five broad areas that are essential for initiating and sustaining participation. Considered collectively these five inter-related 'elements' explain why participation in sport continues to vary so significantly across our population.

The following evidence review was undertaken by the 'Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure (ISPAL) on behalf of Sport Wales in order to retrieve and explore published literature that relates to each of the five 'Elements of Engagement' and to produce a set of recommendations that can be used to inform future research and practice in Wales:

Evidence Review


Calls 4 Action Evaluation

Calls for Action ('C4A') was developed in 2012 to address groups underrepresented in sports participation. The overarching objectives are focused on positive action, encouraging new approaches, and increasing regular and frequent sporting activity in Wales.

C4A is being independently evaluated over three years in real time, with ongoing feedback and learning. Beyond the headline numbers, the aim is to assess what impacts are being achieved and how, the character and degree of innovation, and the lessons for Sport Wales as well as front line practice.

Phase 1 Impact Report

Phase 2 Process Report

Phase 2 First Interim Impact Report



Evaluation of the Physical Literacy Programme for Schools

The Centre for Sport, Physical Education & Activity Research (SPEAR) was commissioned from October 2014 to March 2016 to conduct an independent evaluation of the Physical Literacy Programme for Schools (PLPS) and Physical Literacy Framework (PLF).

Executive Summary

Final Report

Site visit Case Studies



School Sport Survey 2015: State of the Nation report

Protecting Playing Fields in Wales - Guidance notes on the long-term protection of Recreation Land


Understanding participation and non-participation in sport amongst Black and minority ethnic groups in Wales

Sport Wales commissioned the 'Institute of Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure' (in conjunction with Ecorys) to undertake a qualitative research project with a range of Black and minority ethnic communities across Wales.

The research aimed to provide greater insight into the underlying reasons for ethnic disparities in sports participation and a richer understanding of the daily lives, circumstances and experiences of those from minority ethnic communities. Based upon these findings the report provides recommendations for increasing and sustaining participation.

Briefing Paper

Full Report


Sport and Education: Evidence Paper

There have been many claims that taking part in physical education and sport can have a positive impact on the behaviour and attendance of school pupils, their self-esteem, their level of confidence, their ability to demonstrate positive social behaviours (in and out of education) and importantly, in terms of the influence sport and PE can have on overall academic achievements. This paper examines the scientific evidence and the weight of the case behind these claims. It considers both the range of critically reviewed academic literature from around the world as well as the evidence from Wales itself from the School Sport Survey and Active Adults Survey.


Sport and Health: Evidence Paper

Sport Wales has produced an evidence paper which explores sport's role in advancing population health and stemming demand on the NHS as part of a prudent health approach. The paper sets out the strengths and limitations of sport as a vehicle for improving the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the Welsh population, and suggests how sport's health potential can most effectively be realised. The paper brings together evidence from a wide range of peer reviewed research articles as well as incorporating original analysis from Sport Wales' 2012 Active Adult Survey.



Calls for Action Equality Factsheets

Four factsheets have been produced that highlight levels of sports participation in Wales according to people's ethnicity, gender, disability and poverty.  Using data from the School Sport Survey 2013 and Active Adults 2012, we outline what we know about equality, current levels of participation, barriers and attitudes to sport.

Calls for Action - Women and Girls Factsheet

Calls for Action - BME Factsheet

Calls for Action - Disability Factsheet

Calls for Action - Poverty Factsheet


Active Adults Survey 2012

The Active Adults survey is the main source of data on incidence of sports participation, sports club membership and other sport-related issues amongst adults in Wales.  The survey is done face to face, with an interviewer visiting the person at their home. The sample size was 13,145 and the survey was carried out with randomly chosen adults (aged 15+).

The survey, which is usually biennial, has been conducted since 1987/88 and provides a wealth of tracking data on sports participation in Wales.  As well as questions on sports participation, the survey includes questions on sports club membership, coaching and volunteering.  The Active Adults Survey forms a vital part of the evidence base Sport Wales requires to understand the motivations, barriers and unmet demand for sports participation amongst adults in Wales and to assess and prioritise its work and that of its partners.  It is used to help set our strategic priorities in forthcoming years and shape sport, health and education policies.  

The most recent Active Adults Survey took place in 2012 and is the first available data on adult participation since 2008/9. This report outlines the main findings.



School Sport Survey 2013

The School Sport Surveytook place in the summer term of 2013. The data from this survey enables us and our partners to strategically monitor and track trends in sports participation and the provision of Physical Education (PE) and school sport. This provides a base of evidence from which to shape sports policy and practice.

In the 2013 survey, 109,500 pupils from Years 3-11, and 1,060 teachers (generally the Head of PE in secondary school and the PE coordinator in primary school) completed a questionnaire, making this the largest UK survey of young people and sport to date.  This paper presents an overview of what the data is telling us about PE provision and sports participation in Wales.

Our Vision sets out clear priorities for sport in Wales.  We want a Wales whereevery child is hooked on sport for lifeand we havea nation of champions.  The Active Adults Survey forms a vital part of the evidence base Sport Wales requires to assess and to prioritise its work and that of its partners.  The survey also helps Sport Wales to understand the motivations, barriers and unmet demand for sports participation amongst adults in Wales, as well as patterns of non-participation. In addition, it informs the performance management of and by partners at local, regional and national levels and gives Sport Wales the opportunity to update its segmentation tools.  The survey data is used by other key users, such as local authorities, National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs), as well as other policy makers and practitioners in, for example sport, leisure and culture, health, education, and transport.

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) People in Sport: Understanding LGB sports participation in Wales

This report is the result of a partnership between Sport Wales and Stonewall Cymru, and is evidence of the benefits of sharing different expertise and knowledge.  Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals living in Wales were invited to share their views about sport by taking part in focus groups, semi-structured interviews or completing an online survey.  The survey did not just ask questions about frequency and type of sport participation, but also asked about barriers to participation and personal experiences of sport.

This report presents the research findings and provides an insight into how lesbian, gay and bisexual people take part in sport, or indeed why they sometimes choose not to. 



Sports participation amongst 14-21 year olds - how do we encourage young people to stay involved in sport?

Sport Wales commissioned Brightpurpose to undertake qualitative research with young people aged 14-21, both males and females, to understand the issues that affect sports participation.  The purpose of the research was to:

 «  explore the factors that affect drop out in sport, from a Welsh perspective

«  move beyond simply understanding the issues, to find practical solutions and interventions to help retain young people in sport

«  inform a campaign by Sport Wales to influence key decision makers about why young people - especially young females - drop out of sport

This report presents the results.

Attitudes to School Sport.  November 2012

This short paper summarises findings from the School Sport Survey and supporting qualitative research on young people's attitudes to school sport.

People Segmentation: area differences. June 2012.

This short paper sets out differences between the people segmentation profiles of the regions and local authorities of Wales.

School Sport Survey 2011: The State of the Nation. April 2012.

The first School Sport Survey took place in the summer term of 2011. Building on twenty years of Sport Wales surveys on young people's participation in sport, and school-based provision of sport, the data from this survey enables us and our partners to strategically monitor and track trends in Physical Education (PE) and school sport, and provide a base from which to shape sports policy and practice.

Thriving Clubs: evidence to support the Community Sport Strategy. April 2012.

Increasing rates of sports club membership will require clubs to engage with a broader base of participants: more women and girls, more people from 'lower' social grades, more people seeking recreational opportunities to take part in sport, and more participants beyond the most able.

In this research summary, we explore how this might conflict with clubs' current goals, and set out why better coordinated local support will be required if we are to meet our aspiration to develop larger, stronger and thriving clubs.

Local Decisions: evidence to support the Community Sport Strategy. April 2012.

When at school, most young people express demand for more opportunities to participate in sport. Yet by the time they reach adulthood, over half will stop demanding sport of any type. If we are to achieve our aspiration of hooking every child on sport for life, it will not be enough to meet existing demand.

We argue in this research summary that we can only achieve our aspiration of hooking every child on sport for life by decentralise the structures of Welsh sport, take decision-making closer to our diverse communities, and cultivate a desire to participate in sport amongst all people in Wales.

Quality Education: evidence to support the Community Sport Strategy. April 2012.

In this summary, we set out the challenge for the sporting sector in Wales as we strive to hook every child on sport for life. Using data from the recentSchool Sport Survey 2011, we demonstrate that enjoyment of Physical Education (PE) and school sport declines as young people move into secondary school, particularly amongst girls, with a resulting drop-off in participation rates. Most teachers, meanwhile, believe that more time devoted to PE is needed in order to provide the required quality of education.

Committed Workforce: evidence to support the Community Sport Strategy. April 2012.

We know that volunteers are vital to the continued success of Welsh sport. The challenge of recruiting the workforce we need to meet the aims of the Community Sport Strategyis a tough one, however. In this summary, we show that the existing workforce is dominated at all levels by men, that sport needs to be more proactive in reaching out to potential volunteers, and that a workforce which better focuses on customers is required in order to meet the needs of participants.

Appropriate Facilities: evidence to support the Community Sport Strategy. April 2012.

Facilities are a vital element in inspiring participants and creating opportunities to take part in sport. Wales has a generally good range of provision in terms of built facilities, an excellent network of national regional facilities, and superb natural facilities for sport. Many facilities, however, are nearing the end of their lifespan and do not meet users' expectations.

This research summary sets out the implications of this for stretched local authority budgets, how some authorities are seeking to manage their facilities, and the need for better programming and stronger links to support sports clubs.

Child Poverty: a research summary.  April 2012.

This research summary shows that there is apoverty of aspirationamongst young people in deprived communities. Not only are they less likely to participate in sport (particularly in sports clubs), they are less likely to express demand for most sports, and are less likely to have people around them who take part in sport.

Evidence to support the Community Strategy for Sport. April 2012.

In December 2011, Sport Wales commissioned a stakeholder consultation exercise to explore to explore five key priority areas that had been set out in the draft strategy. This work was undertaken by Brightpurpose Consulting, supplementing wider consultation activity undertaken by Sport Wales. Also included in the consultation exercise were a series of focus groups to explore the issues faced by sports clubs and volunteers in developing and maintain sports clubs across Wales.



Mentro Allan/Venture Out: Lived Experiences of Physical Activity in Outdoor Environments. July 2011.

The Mentro Allan programme aimed to learn about the most effective ways to support sedentary people to develop the habit of physical activity in the natural environment. The projects had a range of target groups: young people, older people, women, BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities, people with physical disabilities, mental health service users, carers, people at risk of rural isolation, people with low incomes.

Commissioned by the Mentro Allan National Partnership, led by Sport Wales, a research group from the University of Bath and the Countryside & Community Research Institute undertook in-depth research within the programme over its final two years. Their report explores how people can become more active and how organisations can support them to achieve this, as well as the effect of an activity's outdoor location on participation and participants' experiences.

Active Young People Survey 2009: headline results. March 2011.
Active Young People Survey 2009: FAQs.
March 2011.

The 2009 survey was undertaken by Wavehill Consulting, in conjunction with the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and Snap Surveys. The fieldwork took place between June and July in 2009.  Every maintained school in Wales was invited to participate and pupils from each year group were asked to complete the questionnaire.  The survey covered Years 3-6 in primary school and Years 7-11 in secondary school.

Over 15,000 pupils completed the survey from 416 schools across Wales.  8,093 were from primary schools and 7,098 from secondary schools. 84 secondary schools took part (38% of the total number of secondary schools in Wales) and 328 primary schools (24%).

Physical Activity, Extracurricular Sport and the '5x60' Initiative: Leisure Lifestyles and Young People in Wales, 2007-2009. March 2011.

Sport Wales funded a PhD bursary in partnership with the Cardiff School of Sport, UWIC (now Cardiff Metropolitan University) to undertake research into young people's experiences of the 5x60 secondary school programme.

Four theoretical themes emerged from the research, undertaken by Anna Leyshon: a young person-centred approach; the young people's leisure lifestyles; the heterogeneity of the young people; and gender. There were also two overriding operational themes; the social contact with the officer, and the experience of the club / activity. The influence of all of these varied according to the group of young people, the effect of school locality; and individual characteristics (specifically, the effect of a Welsh language school).

5x60 Case Studies

While undertaking this research with young people there emerged seven particularly interesting case studies that highlighted one or more of the '5x60' objectives, which were to:   

1) Provide additional physical activity extracurricular opportunities by targeting those currently not involved in school sport, school team sport and / or PE;

2) Recruit, support and retain volunteers i.e., parents, and develop young leaders, and;

3) Establish partnerships with the community, local clubs and further / higher education colleges (SCW 2006)

These case studies present individual / group narratives that highlight where these objectives were achieved, helping to demonstrate some of the specific issues and experiences of the programme.

Workplace physical activity in Wales: final evaluation report. March 2011.

This report presents findings from our evaluation of workplace physical activity initiatives in Wales, funding by our Active Workplace Challenge Fund. The evaluation was aimed at demonstrating the effectiveness of the programme in raising levels of physical activity amongst employees, and improving our understanding of the potential for such initiatives to impact on the physical activity levels of the Welsh adult population as a whole.

Workplace physical activity in Wales: a guide for practitioners. March 2011.

Alongside the evaluation report, we produced a guide for those aiming to develop physical activity initiatives in their workplace. The guide presents practical tips at all stages of project development, as well as specific tips for different types of interventions.

Incidence and interest in workplace sport and physical recreation initiatives in Wales. February 2011.

Alongside the evaluation Interim findings from the evaluation of workplace physical activity initiatives in Wales, we funded a survey of Welsh adults to assess the overall picture in Wales. NI this report, we establish to what extent opportunities exist for employees to take part in workplace sport and physical recreation and which types of people are more likely to take part. We also examine the potential for workplace activity to increase participation, and investigate the barriers to participation in such activities.

The Value of Sports Volunteering in Wales. January 2011.

This short research paper sets out the economic value of sports volunteering in Wales.



Sports Volunteering in Wales: a research summary. September 2010.

Drawing together findings from the Active Adults Survey 2008-09, and a qualitative follow-up study of 'Sports Volunteering in Wales' undertaken in early 2010, we set out the current profile of Welsh sport's volunteer workforce: who they are, what they do, and why they do it. We also examine how and why they got involved in volunteering, and what we can do to attract more people into sports volunteering.

Demand for Provision of Welsh-language Sport Amongst Adults. September 2010.

In this report, we assess the demand amongst adults in Wales, for sporting activities delivered through the medium of Welsh. The relative importance of language in the overall quality of participants' experience is considered, along with practical issues concerning coaching provision, marketing and the views on non-Welsh speakers.

Review of Dragon Sport. August 2010.

Dragon Sport is a Sport Wales initiative designed to offer 7-11 year olds fun and enjoyable sporting opportunities, outside the school curriculum and in the community. Arad Consulting were commissioned to undertake a review of the programme around its 10 year anniversary. The review draws on information gathered through consultations and semi-structured interviews with teachers, Dragon Sports Coordinators, Sports Development Managers and National Governing Body officials.

Review of Local Authority Partnership Agreements. August 2010.

In October 2009, we commissioned a review of Local Authority Partnership Agreements (LAPAs), in order to assess the implementation of the process to date, and to inform the future development of the LAPAs relation to policy directives and increasing flexibility for local decision-making. The Wales Audit Office (WAO) undertook the review on our behalf.

Sports Volunteering in Wales. May 2010.

How do we get more people into volunteering in sport? Based on interviews with more than 100 coaches, volunteers, participants, and others interested in becoming volunteers, this report examines why people choose to volunteer, the barriers they face in doing so, and how they can be supported to improve their experiences, as well as the experiences of participants.

Active Adults Survey 2008-09: Headline Results. March 2010.
Active Adults Survey 2008-09: Headline Results by Sport. March 2010.

These reports set out the key findings from the Active Adults Survey 2008-09, covering trends in overall participation, sports club membership and volunteering amongst Welsh adults.

PE Provision in Welsh Schools: Headline findings. March 2010.
PE Provision in Welsh Schools: Qualitative Phase.
March 2010.

The PE Provision Survey monitors the delivery of physical education and sport in Welsh schools, providing a wealth of trend data that helps us monitor progress and identify gaps in provision. All maintained schools, excluding special schools, are asked to take part in the survey every two years. The survey is completed by PE Coordinators in primary schools and Heads of PE in secondary schools.

This paper presents the survey findings on the following headline measures: time allocated for PE in the curriculum; extracurricular time provided by teachers; sports and activities offered.

To further understand issues around the provision of Physical Education (PE) and sport in Wales schools, Sport Wales commissioned a qualitative study of secondary school Heads of PE and primary school PE Coordinators. Themes included: the provision of PE and extracurricular sport and its relative importance to schools, as well as facilities and the value of PE and School Sport (PESS) Development Centres.

Workplace physical activity in Wales: literature review. January 2010.

As part of its programme of evaluation of workplace physical activity initiatives in Wales, Sport Wales commissioned an 'umbrella review' of literature, to gather evidence on the effects of workplace initiatives on health and physical activity levels amongst employees.



Evaluation of Welsh-language Sports Development Pilot Projects. November 2009.

Developing new bilingual sporting activities requires a collective approach. In this report, we detail findings from three pilot projects involving a range of partners, including local authorities, to deliver new opportunities for people to take part in sport bilingually.

Young People's Participation in Sport. September 2009.

Sport Wales has conducted biennial surveys into participation in sport and physical activity by young people aged 11-16 in Welsh secondary schools since 1999. The survey is a means of monitoring this progress and can identify gaps where there is a need to focus more attention. Results from the latest survey, conducted in the autumn term of 2006, are presented in this report.

Netting a Winner. September 2009.

A good practice guide to asking children and young people about sport and physical activity, and tackling ways to question children online.

Adult Participation in Sport. August 2009.

This publication aims to provide a broad outline of the results of the Adult Participation Survey including: participation levels; sports club membership; levels of health-related physical activity; perceived barriers to participation; rates of participation in leisure activities that are not sport-related and volunteering in sport.

A systematic review of the Literature on Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in Sport and Physical Recreation. July 2009.

The commitment of the UK Sports Councils to ensuring equality of opportunity in sport and physical recreation across all groups in society is reflected in the development and implementation of the Equality Standard for Sport and other initiatives to encourage governing bodies and other delivery agencies to address inequality and promote participation and inclusion.

In order to inform their policy and practice in this area, the Carnegie Research Institute were invited to carry out an independent review of what is known about participation in sport and physical recreation by Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the United Kingdom, and to identify how participation opportunities for these communities might be extended and improved. The review was commissioned by Sport Wales alongside the other Sports Councils of the UK and Sporting Equals.



Market Segmentation: Regional Differences. December 2008.

Presents an overview of the market segmentation profile within each of the three Sport Wales regional office areas. The analysis details differences between local authority areas, as well as broad patterns within and across local authority boundaries.

The Economic Importance of Sport in Wales. October 2008.

This publication aims to provide a 'snapshot' of the role and significance of sport in Wales and summarises the key indicators for the economic importance of sport in Wales. It also provides some trend data across previous surveys together with comparisons with the UK.

Children's Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in 2006. March 2008.

The seventh in a series of surveys designed to monitor participation in physical activities among young people aged 11-16 in Welsh secondary schools. This survey is a means of monitoring the progress and can identify gaps where there is a need to focus more attention. Results from the latest survey are presented in this report, and cover curricular activities, extra-curricular activities, school sport and competition, and sports clubs and leisure centre usage.



Girls First: Secondary School Sport for Girls. March 2007.

This report summarises the findings from an ongoing evaluation of the Girls first programme. It discusses the rationale for Girls First and examines the evidence from Sports Council for Wales' surveys and other research to show the gender gap between extra-curricular sports participation among girls and boys.

PE Provision in Primary Schools. 2007.

This report presents the findings from the fourth in a series of studies of physical education in primary schools across Wales, based on Key Stage 2 provision in the academic year 2004/05. Issues covered include the resources and provision made available for curricular PE, curriculum activities offered, availability and perceived quality of school sports facilities, and the resources and delivery of extra-curricular PE provision.

PE Provision in Secondary Schools. 2007.

This report presents findings from the eighth in a series of surveys designed to collect information on sports provision in Welsh Secondary schools. Issues covered include the resources and provision made available for curricular PE, curriculum activities offered, availability and quality of school sport facilities, extra-curricular sports provision and the provision of examination PE.