15th January 2021, 12:55 | therfl

National activity report shows school sport and provision for disadvantaged children is vital

National activity report shows school sport and provision for disadvantaged children is vital

The RFL welcomes the latest Active Lives Children and Young People report from Sport England, the findings of which echo some of the longer-term campaigns driven forward by Rugby League. Specifically, the vital role of school sport, of community provision and the need to focus on all children, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. 

The impact of Covid-19 meant that children’s activity levels dropped across Spring and Summer 2020. The Sport England report shows that the support of parents, teachers and coaches and voluntary organisations was fundamental to ensuring many children accessed different ways of getting active when sports activity was suspended.  

Inevitably team sports like Rugby League, and facilities-dependent sports like swimming, were most impacted. Many, though not all children were able to increase walking, cycling and fitness activities. Sport England will monitor the longer-term impact on the drop in physical literacy which is important for children’s health and wellbeing, and ability to progress in sports. 

Marc Lovering, Director of Participation and Development, the RFL said:  

“Our partners Sport England have done a superb job in supporting NGBs and other organisations throughout this difficult period. It is important that the sports sector as a whole understands as much as possible about the longer-term impact of the disruption to community sport. In particular the fact that children from less affluent backgrounds have been most impacted by the ongoing situation – exacerbating existing inequalities. 

 “We look forward to the return of Community Rugby League and Rugby League in all education settings. We take this opportunity to reiterate the RFL’s stance on school sport.  

·        Sport should be in the national curriculum – valued and measured in the same way as reading or writing, with increased dedicated time per week, every week for all children.  

o   This must include children with disabilities.  

·        The school sport premium should be enhanced so that sports, like Rugby League, can deliver high-quality programmes directly in the school setting.  

o   This is key to the recovery of community sport.  

“The RFL has worked hard with community clubs and Foundations to provide resources to keep young people active and connected to their clubs. Sport England’s ‘Join the Movement’ campaign also provides excellent free, easy ideas around keeping physically and mentally fit. The RFL’s online #FitToPlay and #SkillToPlay resources are free to all. As are tailored resources for our players with disabilities. 

“The RFL and our member clubs are acutely aware that not all young people enjoy space at home or have a garden or easy access to high quality public spaces; and many can’t access online sport, fitness and wellness resources at home. They may not have a laptop, or broadband.  

The RFL Vice-President Mike Smith will be championing the ways in which we can use the Rugby League network and our expertise in delivering activities with real social impact to ensure some of the most disadvantaged children can access local schemes to provide these essential tools. We know this is vital not only for their education but also their health and wellbeing. Further information will be shared with the Rugby League community in the coming days.” 


Key findings from Sport England’s report:   

·        3.2 million (44.9%) children met the CMO guidelines and did an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day when averaged across the year. But the number of active children decreased by 1.9% compared to the same period 12 months ago. 

·        The number of physically active children and young people fell by more than 100,000 in the summer term (down 2.3% compared to the same period 12 months ago). 

·        Restrictions, while impacting everyone, hit certain demographic groups harder than others:  

o   Gender: Across the whole academic year, boys (47%) remained more likely to be active than girls (43%). However, girls adapted better than boys to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. During the summer term, girls’ activity levels increased by 2.4%, with just over 100,000 more girls meeting the recommended level of physical activity across mid-May to late-July compared to summer 2019. 

o   Family affluence: there remains a large gap in activity levels between children from less affluent and more affluent families. 

o   Ethnicity: the gap between the numbers of active children from White British (54%) and Asian (46%) and Black (32%) backgrounds grew during the summer term.    


The Sport England Report can be found here.