Introduction by Nick Pontefract, Chief Strategy Officer, Sport England
This report summarises the sport and physical activity behaviours of 5-16-year-olds in England over the 2022-23 academic year (September 2022-July 2023). While we are pleased that the recovery seen after the Covid-19 pandemic has been retained, and that the overall number of active children (those doing at least 60 minutes of activity a day, on average) has increased by 424,000 over five years – our ambition is to work together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to be active. In its new strategy, Get Active, the government has set a target of one million more active children than in 2021-22, by 2030. We will only achieve this by working collaboratively as a sector to improve access to, and the experience of, sport and physical activity for children and young people. This report demonstrates lots of positives. We have seen the continued importance of informal play, significant increases in children and young people playing football and continued growth in active travel, with more children walking to school than at any point since this survey began. Investments made by Sport England, whether they be supporting the School Games and the School Games Organisers, developing tools like Studio You, campaigns like Play Their Way, or a physical literacy consensus statement, are all important and valuable contributions. But only by working collectively will we be able to really shift the dial on young people’s participation in sport and physical literacy. The report also shows areas for concern and collective action. Overall rates of activity and inactivity are not changing by as much, or as quickly, as we would want to see. Participation levels for important life skills, like swimming, may be showing signs of recovering but levels are still significantly lower than when the survey began. And children are also reporting significantly lower wellbeing scores than five years ago. As ever, it’s only possible to provide a summary within this report. Readers should use the links within it to access the detailed data tables. Alternatively, check out the Active Lives Online tool, which is updated shortly after each release, where you can explore trends over time, audiences not covered in this report and more specific activities. Finally, I’d like to thank the schools, children, parents and teachers who took the time to complete the survey, and the network of Active Partnerships who’ve, once again, played a key role in working with the schools.