Power of PE – good school experiences have generational impact

Just 32% of UK parents have positive memories of PE and school sport as a child. New research from the Youth Sport Trust, conducted by YouGov, comes as the charity looks to National School Sport Week 20-26 June, when it will be championing a place for every child in sport and encouraging schools to focus on physical activity and sport environments where every young person feels they belong regardless of ability or motivation. In the aftermath of the pandemic, it wants to reclaim the life chances of a generation by changing parental perceptions and children’s experiences.

The research found parents who had a positive experience of PE at school were almost twice as likely (63%) to say their children enjoyed PE at school today and much more likely to encourage their children to be active and play sport (vs 35% of those parents who didn’t have positive experiences).

Alison Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

“We are excited for National School Sport Week to be returning this summer and want to support as many families as possible to find a love for sport and feel they have a place to belong within it.

“Schools are uniquely placed to deliver opportunities and motivation for children to be more active, but this research highlights the importance of working with families too. It is important to highlight, regardless of their own memories and PE experiences, what they do now to support their children’s experience can influence their wellbeing and education as well as their physical activity levels into adulthood.”

The Youth Sport Trust launches its PE & School Sport Annual Report this week and earlier this month launched its new long-term strategy, ‘Inspiring Changemakers, Building Belonging’ earlier to help build back healthier, happier and more resilient children and young people, to balance the demands of the digital age through human connection, and transform society’s perceptions and attitudes to the value of play and sport in the education and development of young people.

Speaking on why her journey to ensure all three of her children, one of whom has autism, has inclusive sporting experiences, Margaret Hay, Author of A&Me said:

“I have always looked at what my children enjoy and got them involved in what suits their strengths. We need to start looking at sport differently. It is not about rigidity, it is about adaptability, and building programs for every ability.

“Because through sport many different skills are learnt and build a foundation for later life.”

The research among UK parents of children aged 18 and under carried out by YouGov found:

  • 32% of parents said that they have positive experience of PE. These parents were more likely to say their children enjoyed PE at school than those who didn’t have positive experience of PE (63% vs 35%)
  • These parents alsoEncourage their children to be active and play sport (78% vs 52%)
    Would be more included to choose a school which prioritise PE (22% vs 8%)
    Would be prepared to speak to school to encourage them to provide more PE or school sport (34% vs 18%)

To sign up for the charity’s annual National School Sport Week campaign and receive free resources visit

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