Children aged 7-16 reported a perceived drop in confidence, competence, and enjoyment from being active.
Growing inequalities in participation also highlights the challenges that remain in ensuring that our children and young people benefit from the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of taking part in sport and recreation.
The new findings show existing inequalities have been worsened and black boys in particular, as well as those from lower socio-economic groups continue to be disadvantaged. Overall, activity levels for boys have dropped, which brings them in line-with girls’ activity levels who have traditionally been less likely to take part.
Responding to the survey, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO Lisa Wainwright MBE said: “There is no doubt that COVID-19 and the restrictions that followed have played their part in these findings, however it is alarming to see inequalities continue and, perhaps more importantly, the idea that our younger generations are not getting the positive experiences that activity can provide.
“The core physical literacy skills that are gained from sport and recreation are crucial in helping our children and we know that those individuals who participate are more likely to develop essential competences and succeed in later life.
“This is why we are concerned that PE and sport are not being placed as a central pillar in the recovery from this pandemic. Along with our partners in the sector, we want to see the PE and Sport Premium funding protected for the long-term, to allow our schools to deliver the best possible provision for activity to get our children moving again.
“The Alliance supports the commitment placed on children and young people in Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy, with an emphasis on creating safe environments and inclusive opportunities. We will work with them in their ambition for every child and young person to experience the enjoyment and benefits that being active can bring.
“I commend all of the activity providers, sport and recreation organisers and teachers who have helped to deliver sessions during a testing time which has resulted in unchanged activity levels from 2019-20, but it is essential that we now focus on offering the right opportunities to get more children engaged and to deliver positive experiences for them.
“We look forward to the imminent publication of government’s new School Sport and Activity Action Plan and working with the sector and government to ensure that creating active opportunities for every community will result in a healthier, happier future for our children and young people.”
You can read the full report here.