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Major improvements to school sport have transformed children’s attitudes towards being active

March 18, 2014

Over half of parents have confessed to lying to avoid PE when at school, whilst children today enjoy it far more, a new survey from the Youth Sport Trust and Bupa has found.

The survey questioned British parents and children on their experiences of PE and school sport. It revealed 56% of parents had lied to get out of PE lessons, such as forgetting their kit, faking an injury or feeling unwell. Feeling unhappy in lessons (52%), not being good at the subject (50%) and going out in bad weather (35%) were also popular reasons.

Over three quarters (76%) of young people questioned said they like PE lessons, with a quarter of them saying that they love it, indicating that attitudes have changed over the generations. Nearly half (49%) of eight-15 year olds questioned as part of the survey said that their teachers make PE lessons fun.

The research suggests improvements in the support and training available to teachers, such as the Bupa Start to Move initiative, are helping to shape more positive attitudes towards PE and school sport. Bupa Start to Move is providing primary school teachers across the country with additional training to increase their confidence in delivering PE and school sport, so that pupils are engaged and inspired by sports activities at their school. A key aim is to help children to develop the movement skills, enthusiasm and confidence they need to begin lifelong participation in physical activity and sport.

Other findings from the survey show that almost seven out of ten (69%) children who enjoyed PE said they thought it was fun at school and over half of children said it made them feel fit and healthy (53%) and happy (51%).

Bupa Start to Move is a free programme for all primary schools, which gives teachers access to a range of support through the www.starttomovezone.comwebsite. Since 2010, 5,000 teachers have received training and over 280,000 British children have benefited from the initiative.

Dr Paula Franklin Medical Director Bupa UK commented:

"It is really encouraging to see that the attitude towards sport in schools has improved over the generations. It remains a national priority to increase physical activity amongst children because of the positive impact it has on their health and wellbeing. Through Bupa Start to Move, we hope to inspire children to get moving and stay active now and into the future."

Commenting on the findings, Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair at the Youth Sport Trust said:

"It's always encouraging to see that there is an appetite for PE and school sport. The Youth Sport Trust has nearly 20 years experience in school sport and, during that time, we have supported thousands of schools to improve the quality of PE and school sport opportunities for young people.

"One area that needs the most attention is training for teachers at primary level, as we know the majority receive little to no training in teaching PE and school sport before qualifying. The renewed commitment from the Government to extend its PE and Sport Premium funding until 2020 is a welcome boost, and a huge opportunity to further improve teaching skills and embed physical literacy within primary schools."

Olympic Badminton Silver Badminton Medalist and Youth Sport Trust ambassador, Gail Emms, isn't surprised by the results:

"Schools are clearly doing a great job at inspiring their kids with a range of different and fun activities and, as a parent myself, it's hugely positive news. If our kids are happy, fit and healthy, then this has a huge impact on other areas of their lives and that's what every parent wants for their child."