Active Lives Children and Young People Survey

Teachers and headteachers play a crucial role in shaping the lives of young people, that's a given. A key aspect of this responsibility is encouraging physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, and the skills that children develop through physical activity and Outdoor Learning spread into all other aspects of their lives and academic success. That's why Sport England's most recent 'Active Lives Children and Young People Survey' is great news for the education sector.

The survey, which covers the academic year from September 2022 to July 2023, shows a significant increase in the number of young people participating in physical activity in the last 5 years. In fact, the survey found that 47% of children and young people aged 5-16 now participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

This is a fantastic result and testament to the hard work of teachers and head teachers across the country. Encouraging physical activity is not only important for the physical health of young people but also for their mental wellbeing. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, and boost cognitive function.

The survey also provides some interesting insights into the types of physical activity that young people are engaging in. The most popular activities are swimming, football, cycling, dance, and running/jogging. However, the survey also found that children and young people are increasingly participating in a wider range of activities such as yoga, martial arts, and boxing.

This is a positive trend as it shows that young people are being exposed to a greater variety of physical activities, which can help to keep them engaged and motivated. It's also worth noting that the survey found a significant increase in the number of young people participating in outdoor activities, which is great news for those who are concerned about the impact of technology on children's lives.

Of course, there is still work to be done, and the survey highlights some areas where improvements can be made. For example, there is still a gender gap when it comes to physical activity, with boys being more active than girls. Numbers this year, although better than the last five years, have barely increased in comparison to last year. There is also a socio-economic divide, with children from more affluent backgrounds being more likely to participate in physical activity than those from less affluent backgrounds.

This is why we're working so hard to raise awareness of The Outdoor Classroom, so more schools across the country can deliver Outdoor Learning opportunities and physical activity to their pupils.

As of 2024, The Outdoor Classroom is offered entirely free to schools in a bid to create equal sporting opportunities for pupils of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. What's more, our partnership with British Orienteering means we're able to help to deliver more free outdoor activities outside of school for children.

The Outdoor Classroom pulled in a fabulous 68% of pupil participation in the academic year 22/23. That's 68% of pupils taking part in even more outdoor activity, and being able to do so within conventional lessons so we're able to make even more time available to get in those all important minutes!

As educators, it's important that we continue to work towards closing these gaps and ensuring that all children and young people have access to physical activity. This means providing a range of activities that cater to different interests and abilities, as well as making sure that resources and facilities are available to all.

Overall, the 'Active Lives Children and Young People Survey' is a positive indication that we are making progress in encouraging physical activity among young people. Schools should be proud of the role we have played in achieving these results and continue to work towards a healthier, more active future for all young people. And we at The Outdoor Classroom will continue to work to get our system out and available to all schools in the UK!