School Sport Survey: Providing all children with the opportunity to be active

Sports:

Multi-sport , Fitness , Netball

Location:

Anglesey

The School Sport Survey has highlighted that some groups of children are less likely to be taking part in sport and physical activity than others.  They've also told us why, and now many schools and local authorities have been able to use this information to knock down barriers, making sport and the many health and wellbeing benefits it provides, accessible to all children.

Fewer girls are "forgetting" their sports kit, thanks to a number of new initiatives at a school in Anglesey. 

Relaxed rules on sports kit and a move away from traditional games have had a major impact on girls' participation, according to Gethin Thomas, the former Head of PE at Ysgol David Hughes.

"We had a moment of realisation when we received the findings of the Sport Wales School Sport Survey," said Gethin.

"The Survey is a great instrument to work out what the kids think and what's stopping them from taking part in physical activity. It really took the survey results in 2011 to realise that things had to change with the PE kit."

The school took part in the survey once again in 2013 where they were further enlightened:

"We looked at the activities on offer and focussed more on health, fitness and wellbeing. We gave the pupils a menu of activities and they chose what they wanted to do. The importance of on-going data cannot be underestimated.

"The survey pushed us to listen for the pupil voice. We introduced shorter, four week bursts of activity and brought in activities such as tag rugby, aerobics and dance."

Gethin has since been seconded to the Physical Literacy Programme for Schools (PLPS). In that time, the school has created its first School Sports Council:

"The survey provided the evidence we needed to set up a forum for pupil voice. The work of Young Ambassadors and PLPS has also been critical."

In turn, enthusiasm and engagement in sport is on the up:

"Motivation has increased - and that's because they have chosen the activitiestheywant to do."

There's a process to follow with the survey as it requires pupils to complete questionnaires.

However, Gethin explains it wasn't difficult to sell the benefits to the Headteacher:

"He could clearly see the benefits of the data - it ties in with Estyn as wellbeing is such an important part of the inspection.

"There is a huge pressure on teachers in terms of literacy and numeracy. Physical activity is often secondary to that but the survey helps to push it towards the top of the priority list."

And the efforts have certainly paid off:

"Staff are certainly telling me that girls are much less reluctant to take part. They are enjoying all sorts of activities like the fitness room, zumba, badminton and touch rugby."

And this is having a positive effect on behaviour:

"If they're reluctant, it's a battle from the beginning to engage them. If they are taking part in activities that they enjoy, behaviour definitely improves."

If physical activity is to play its part in improving the health of the nation, Gethin believes things have to change:

"We must look at the children who aren't taking part, don't feel comfortable and don't enjoy it. And to change that, you need to do something differently. You can't just have more of the same.

"If I was persuading another school to take part, I would appeal to them that it allows you to step away from your day to day work and look objectively at reliable data and how the learners feel about activities."

The 2018 School Sport Survey will again look to highlight the barriers that prevent certain youngsters from being physically active.  To ensure that a true reflection and the views of all groups are gained, we need as many children as possible to be taking part in the survey.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit www.schoolsportsurvey.org.uk