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Young People Transitioning from School to Community Environments

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Youth Insight & Co-Creation

Authors – Dannielle Roberts (SLC and Proper Active) and Becca Mattingley

SLC (The Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy Ltd) and Proper Active would like to thank the team from Sport Wales, Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council for their energy, ideas and support throughout this project to date.

We would also like to thank the schools and, of course, the wonderful young people who have taken part.

The West Wales Participation Group (WWPG) consists of representatives from four local authorities: Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea. In 2022, Sport Wales commissioned consultancy support from SLC/Proper Active to work on a two-stage project with WWPG - the Year 9 Transition from School to Community Activity (TSCA) pilot.  

This pilot project explored the professional enquiry question:  

What motivates young people around age 13-14 (Year 9) to transition from being physically active in school programmes into regular community participation opportunities?

Local Authority (LA) Physical Activity Officers in the West Wales Participation Group were keen to tackle young people’s disengagement from sport and physical activity following entry into secondary education. In early 2022, they collectively raised a professional enquiry around why some young people take part in sport and physical activity in community settings outside of school, whilst others do not.

Why is this of interest?

It has long been established that young people start to drop out of sport and physical activity participation from early teens onwards, particularly female young people. The latest SSS results reiterate this pattern.  

This question has arisen due to the known drop-off in participation for young people at around this age, along with a recognition that, once young people leave education settings, they are no longer compelled to take part in physical activity within the education setting. At this point, many of their connections with opportunities to play sport are lost.  

It is recognised that overall drop-off is an elongated process, with increasing numbers of young people becoming less active throughout primary and secondary education; however, it is thought that age 13-14 perhaps presents a more notable drop.  

The LA’s would like to understand whether this is the case and, if it is, why are this age group in particular dropping out. Further to this, they would like to understand what motivates those young people who do take part in physical activity outside of school to do so and how this influences their longer-term relationship with being active.

The major value in this learning would be to inform the design & implementation of future local interventions to support young people. It might also be useful in influencing wider strategy/spending and for sharing/learning.

Defining the question

What motivates young people around age 13-14 (Year 9) to transition from being physically active in school programmes into regular community participation opportunities?


It is recognised that at age 13-14 young people exhibit more autonomy and become less reliant on their parents to choose and facilitate free time activities.

Curricular v Extra-curricular participants

It is acknowledged that young people taking part in extra-curricular activities may already have a more positive relationships with physical activity and hence be more likely to transition to activity outside school.  

If that assumption is true, it is especially important to understand how those participating in curricular activities only (i.e. compulsory) feel about community sport.

Type of community activity?

At the centre of this question is a desire to support young people to establish and maintain positive relationships with physical activity to give them the skills and motivation to remain active into their adult lives. As such, if they are active, it doesn’t matter what activity they do.

Further to this, activities could be:

  • Online OR offline
  • In organised settings e.g., clubs OR informal opportunities
  • With friends/family OR with other participants OR alone
  • Young person specific OR general activities
  • In sport focused environments OR any community setting

However, it is important to understand the type of activity young people want to do, where, when and with who.

Role of technology  

As the majority of young people are highly connected and technologically savvy it will be vital to consider the role of digital platforms through this work.