Active Lives Children and Young People Survey 2019/2020 Academic Year Report

Sport England has released the latest data on activity levels of children and young people during the 2019/2020 academic year. The number of children and young people who were physically active fell compared to the previous year in England, as first storms in January and February 2020 and then the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic restricted the type of activities available.

The figures, published on 14th January 2021, in the Sport England Active Lives Children and Young People Survey covering the 2019/20 academic year, show 44.9% of children and young people (3.2 million) met the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more a day.

This represents a decrease of 1.9% (86,500) compared to the same period 12 months ago, although activity levels remain higher than in 2017/18.

The Local Picture

In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough the proportion of children and young people reporting they are active has fallen by 2.3% (a decrease of 1600 active children). Although slightly higher then the national figure, only 45.3% (51,400) of our county’s children and young people are currently meeting the recommended level of activity.

Around one in three children (31.6% or 35,800) still do less than the average of 30 minutes a day and more than half (54.7% )are not active enough to benefit their health. These figures are similar to the national statistics of 31.3% and 55.1% respectively.

The survey also records the number of children who volunteer to support sport and physical activity. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough more than a third of children (37%) volunteer in some capacity, a slightly greater proportion compared to the national figure (36%), but levels are at a historic low compared to the previous two years.

National Data – Further Findings (whole year)
  • Active children are happier, more resilient, more trusting of others, and less likely to feel lonely
  • Being more active, and/or volunteering, is associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing, individual development and social and community development
  • More physically literate children and young people are more likely to be active, happier, more resilient, and more trusting of others
  • Boys are more active than girls
  • Children and young people from more affluent families are more active and the gap between the most and least affluent has widened over the last 12 months
  • Black children and young people are the least likely to be active, Mixed and Black ethnic groups have driven the decrease in activity over the last year, and Asian and Black groups show the widest gender gaps in those who are active
National Data – Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic (referring to summer term only):

The national data includes separate analysis for the summer term when activity restarted in the summer term after the first national lockdown.

  • The proportion of children and young people reporting they were active fell from 53% to 51%, with just over 100,000 fewer meeting the recommended level of activity in the summer term of 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019
  • There was a switch from sporting activities to alternative or adapted activities which minimised the overall reduction
  • Going for a walk, cycling for fun/fitness or doing fitness activities all saw large increases in levels of participation (between 18-22% up)
  • Sporting activities overall saw a 16% drop in participation, with team sports and swimming activities most affected (both down 24%) due to the closure of swimming pools and teams not able to get together
  • Active play and informal activities were also affected (down 11%) reflecting the closure of playgrounds until July and the fact that children and young people were not allowed to get together as much as previously due to restrictions in place and social distancing
  • Positive attitudes towards sport and physical activity fell in the summer term of 2020 compared to the previous year, with lowered competence (23% to 19%) and confidence (39% to 34%) of note
  • Generally, happiness wasn’t adversely affected through the pandemic, nor was loneliness with children and young people reporting feeling less lonely, but resilience was affected negatively, and levels of trust showed a mixed response across genders and year groups: this shows the mixed response to school closures ranging from missing friends to escaping bullying, for example.
About Active Lives Survey

The national Active Lives Children and Young People survey launched in 2017. Designed by Sport England, the Department for Education, the Department for Health, and the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, its purpose is to gain a detailed insight into the current physical activity habits of the nation’s children and young people aged 5 to 16 (school years 1 to 11).

Living Sport manages the completion of this survey across schools in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Around 40 local schools are invited to take part each term. As well as contributing local data to this very important national data set, participating schools (subject to 30 completions) receive a confidential, bespoke report providing valuable insight, at least £100 worth of sports equipment and a national healthy schools rating. 

We would like to thank all schools who participated both last year and in the Autumn Term 2020/21 survey and will be in touch with the schools selected this term. The survey has been adapted this term to allow children to complete at home. More information on the Active Lives Survey in our county can be found here

Our Work To Improve Activity Levels

Living Sport works across multiple projects to improve activity levels of children and young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including Satellite ClubsThe Daily Mile and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough School Games.

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