Cuts to the number of hours in PE and sport delivered in schools in England is a “matter of immediate national concern”, according to the Youth Sport Trust.
Official figures released by the government show that 4,000 hours were lost in state-funded schools in the last academic year alone.
Since the 2012 London Olympics, there has been a 12% drop in the amount of time secondary school pupils spend doing physical education and sport.
Data shows that around 326,277 hours of PE and sport were delivered in secondary schools in England in 2011-12. By 2021-22 that had fallen to 290,033 – and to 285,957 in the past 12 months.
In response to the figures, released this week, the Youth Sport Trust said the cuts pose a “threat to the wellbeing of young people”.
“Fewer than half of children in the UK currently meet 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity which is the Chief Medical Officers’ minimum recommended level,” said Ali Oliver MBE, CEO of the Youth Sport Trust.
“This is contributing to a nation where too many children are missing out, have poor wellbeing and lack a sense of belonging. The evidence is clear; unhappy and unhealthy children do not learn and just this week we are seeing proof of this as high levels of persistent absence and mental ill health have been cited as undermining pupils’ GCSE results.
“PE provides a foundation for learning across the curriculum, the physical literacy it develops is as essential a life skill as numeracy and language literacy, and it provides a universal introduction to sport and physical activity for every child regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or affluence.
“With increasing demands on the NHS, it should be harnessed for its contribution to public health as well as wider social and educational outcomes.
“We need to not just give permission to schools, but actively encourage and support them to embrace PE and school sport as valid and important part of the education and development of every child.”