The vision is for life. It responds to the needs of people at different stages of their life. This section explores different factors that may impact young people’s participation in sport at different stages of their life.
5.1 National frequency of participation by year group
Previous years of the School Sport Survey have seen sport participation vary by year group, typically peaking when students are in years 5 and 6, and then generally declining from there.
The 2022 School Sport Survey shows that in the 2021/2022 academic year, participation in organised sport outside of the curriculum three or more times a week was highest for pupils in year 7 (44%), and lowest for pupils in year 3 (33%).
Graph 8: Participation in organised sport outside of the curriculum three or more times a week, by school year.
Meanwhile, pupils in years 10-11 were more likely to report no frequent activity (39%) saying they participated less than once per week), while pupils in year groups 5-6 were less likely to report no frequent activity (31%).
5.2 PE and sport helping pupils to achieve a healthy lifestyle
The new school curriculum for Wales emphasises that ‘developing physical health and well-being has lifelong benefits’. The 2022 School Sport Survey asked pupils how much they think PE lessons and sport help them to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
51% of pupils believe that PE lessons and sport help them ‘a lot’ to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, 7% pupils believe that PE lessons and sport do not help them at all to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
The following graph shows that primary school pupils are more likely to believe that PE lessons and sport help them ‘a lot’ to achieve a healthy lifestyle than secondary school pupils.
Graph 9: Pupils’ perception of PE and sport helping to achieve a healthy lifestyle, by sector.
5.3 National latent demand and unmet demand for sport
Latent demand is where pupils say they would like to do more of a particular sport.
93% (292,000) of pupils in Wales had a latent demand to do more sport. Primary school pupils were more likely to have a latent demand for more sport (96%) compared to secondary school pupils (91%).
Unmet demand refers to those who do not participate in sport three or more times a week, yet have a demand to do more sport.
56% of pupils had unmet demand, the equivalent of 175,000 pupils. Unmet demand was also higher for primary school pupils (60%) compared to secondary school pupils (53%).
Graph 10: Unmet demand, by Free School Meal quartile.
In contrast to the pattern observed for participation earlier in this report, pupils in FSM4 (most deprived) were more likely to have unmet demand than their peers in FSM1, FSM2, and FSM3, respectively. The unmet demand among FSM4 pupils equates to 38,000 pupils, while the unmet demand among FSM1 pupils equates to 41,000 pupils.
A full breakdown of latent demand and unmet demand by sport can be viewed in appendix C.
5.4 Responding to pupils' needs
Responding to pupils’ needs and desires, and recognising the barriers to participation, is key to being able to make sport a lifelong activity.
The 2022 School Sport Survey asked pupils to select responses to the question ‘I would do more sport if’. The most commonly selected responses across Wales to ‘I would do more sport if…’ were ‘If there were more sport opportunities that suited me’ (37%), ‘If I had more time’ (36%), and ‘If I was more confident’ (25%). The following table outlines the responses by gender.
Table 7: Responses to ‘I would do more sport if…’, by gender
No. of boys
No. of girls
If there were more sport opportunities that suited me
If I had more time
If it was easier to get to
If I was more confident
If I was better at sports
If I had the equipment I need
If it was cheaper
If someone else went with me
If I enjoyed sport more
If I enjoyed PE more
If the places I played sport in were better
If boys and girls did sport or PE together
If boys and girls did sport or PE separately
If I didn’t have to get the bus home
If more people in sport looked like me
If I could manage my period better
Footnote: ‘If I could manage my period better’ was only provided as an option to pupils in years 5 and above