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Since children and young people spend a large amount of time in their day at school, the school environment represents many opportunities for the promotion and facilitation of physical activity (e.g. PE, extracurricular sports).

In the UK, it is recommended that schools provide 120 minutes (2 hours) of physical education on average per week. In addition, research has shown that more physical activity opportunities offered at school (excluding PE) is linked to higher levels of physical activity in children and young people (Carlson et al. 2013). It is therefor important for schools to offer extracurricular opportunitites to encourage more active pupils.


The benchmarks for this indicator relate to physical activity opportunities at school and physical education. The Research Work Group used data on, (1) the percentage of schools that offer physical activity opportunities (excluding PE) to the majority of their pupils; (2) the percentage of schools with sufficient facilities/equipment to support pupils’ physical activity and sport; (3) the percentage of schools where teachers were confident in delivering quality PE lessons; (4) the percentage of children that believe PE lessons and school sport help them to have a healthy lifestyle; to allocate a grade to this indicator.

Survey Data

A nationally representative data source was used by the Research Work Group to assign a School grade. School Physical Education Coordinators and children’s responses from the School Sport Survey (2015) were synthesised.

Percentage of children that feel physical education and school sport helped them achieve a healthy lifestyle
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    The School Sport Survey (2015) provides data on 115,398 children aged 7-16 years old from across Wales. Further, the 2015 Survey also provides data from 914 physical education coordinators from primary and secondary schools in Wales.

    In total, 60% of primary schools and 80% of secondary schools provide a wide variety of extracurricular sport and dance opportunities to all pupils. This provision includes health, fitness and wellbeing activities, competitive activities, creative activities, and adventure activities. On average, primary schools provide 11 different extracurricular activities for pupils, and secondary schools provide 16 different extracurricular activities.

    Physical education staff reported that 70% of primary and 62% of secondary schools agreed that the school had sufficient access to facilities to provide sport, and that 54% of primary and 50% of secondary schools owned sports facilities that were of high quality. Further, 73% of primary and 71% of secondary schools agreed that they had access to sufficient equipment to provide quality physical education and sport.

    77% of primary and 85% of secondary schools reported teachers were confident in delivering quality physical education lessons in school.

    From the children's perspective, 62% of children (64% boys, 60% girls) reported that physical education lessons and school sport had really helped them to have a healthy lifestyle.

Deciding on a Grade

With the current evidence in mind, schools were well resourced and the Research Work Group assigned a grade B to the school indicator.

  • The School Sport Survey uses self-report methods to obtain data, and therefore may result in some biases.
  • There was insufficient information on the time allocated by primary and secondary schools for Physical Education. This has been used as a benchmark for other countries in the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance in past report cards. Currently, children/young people should achieve 120 (2 hours) minutes of Physical Education on average per week (UK).
  • While there is information on the amount of extracurricular activities being offered at school, we do not know about the quality of those opportunities.
  • Further research is also needed on factors that influence participation in physical activity at school.
  • Over the past 10 years, a significant effort has been made in Wales to influence children’s physical activity and sport participation through programmes such as “Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport” for primary, and “5x60” programmes for secondary age children. These programmes have been developed, implemented and evaluated and found evidence that children’s extracurricular participation had increased and the range of activities that schools offered had broadened.
  • Sport Wales in collaboration with Public Health Wales and the education sector have influenced Government to give physical literacy the same emphasis in the school curriculum as literacy and numeracy.
  • Schools should maximise opportunities for pupils to move more and sit less throughout the school day.
  • Schools should continue to provide opportunities for pupils’ involvement in sports and physical activities.
How to Improve
  • School Sport Survey ‘School Toolkit’ - link
  • Community Sport - link
  • Healthy School Scheme Wales - link
Data Sources