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PE at home – what do children want?

By Owen Hathway, Sport Wales’ Assistant Director - Insight, Policy and Public Affairs

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a transformational impact on society as we’ve gone into lockdown and increasingly practice more stringent social distancing. 

Working from home has brought many challenges, not least the fact that for many of us we’ve had to become our children’s new teachers. 

Schools across Wales have gone to some incredible lengths to make that transition as easy as possible; creating online resources, developing a range of new ways to stay in touch and offer advice, as well as showcasing examples of brilliant home schooling.  At Sport Wales we’ve also released free specialist resources for parents to access in order to help during this time.  These resources not only allow parents to keep their children active, but also give the confidence that they are mirroring the sort of sessions we would see in schools. 

The truth of course is that we are not all qualified P.E teachers, and even where we are this is a very different environment.  However, at this time one key thing we can do in order to support children, is to listen to their views. 

Sport Wales conducts the School Sport Survey, one of the largest pupil voice exercises in the world, and it has given us some key insight into what children want in relation to sport and physical activity. We want to share some of the lessons from that survey to help you over the coming weeks. 


Over a quarter of the 120,000 children that took part in the last school sport survey said that they would do more sport, if they were more confident.  We know that supporting children to try new things, develop new skills, without undue pressure, is a major factor in their willingness to do more sport. 

No one is going to be assessing your child’s ability in the back garden.  Now more than ever we can truly embrace the principles of the incoming curriculum in Wales and have the freedom to really ensure a safe to fail approach to being active. There are no Olympic medals on the line so be comfortable with a relaxed approach which is not target driven.


Linked to confidence, almost a quarter of children say they would do more sport if they were fitter. There doesn’t have to be structured approach to this. Simply moving and being active is incredibly beneficial to physical and mental health currently. 

Take advantage of the surge in free resources such as those daily YouTube workouts or the advice from Sport Wales’s #BeActiveWales campaign.  Simply know that even unstructured play is a steppingstone to better physical health, leading to a greater readiness to want to participate in sport in future.


Going back to that point about listening to pupil voice, there is a hugely significant correlation between those children who do sport three or more times a week, and those who feel their views about physical education are listened to. 

If nothing else, throughout this lockdown, just focus on what is fun, what is enjoyable, what creates confidence and what your children want to do.  Ask them about the sorts of sporting activities they want to try and that they enjoy, and allow them to be creative and imaginative about how this can be done within your own home environment.  Remember also that one sport or session won’t fit all children so keep that dialogue ongoing.

Together where possible:

Doing things alone can be a challenge.  We know that the number one factor which supports children wanting to do more sport is if their friends can do it with them. Of course, that is difficult in this climate, but with more and more people turning to online technology why not embrace that where you can.  Zoom, Youtube, Whatsapp, Facetime.  There are several ways to organise collective, if distanced, activity and fitness.


We’ve found over the years that some of the major barriers around sport exist because the opportunities are restricted.  Among the key reason’s children say they couldn’t do more sport are because they don’t have enough time, they need to go home after school, the clubs are not easy to get to or they must catch a bus.  Sport Wales are continuing to promote the need for an extended school day in the long run, but in the here and now there has never been a better chance to capitalise on the free time to do more sport. 

This is a difficult period for everyone, but it also gives such an incredible opportunity for you to establish an approach to being active which will create lifelong benefits for the whole family.  It will start at home, but lets see how far we can ultimately take it.