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  • Comments: 0
  • 30 June 2014 00:00
  • in Education
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Give girls a voice or risk putting them off PE and sport for life warns Youth Sport Trust

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Schools risk putting girls off PE and sport for life if they don't give them a voice in how the subject should be delivered, according to research from the Youth Sport Trust.

The warning comes as the charity revealed the findings of Girls Active - a one-year pilot programme that gave girls more say on how PE and sport should be delivered in schools to make it more appealing.

The pilot aimed to tackle the negative attitude that girls have towards their body image, improve their attitude towards PE and to work with schools to make sport more relevant to girls' lives.

Exactly 20 schools across the country were involved in the pilot where teachers and female students worked closely to establish an understanding as to what motivates them to take part in PE and sport; developing an action plan based on their feedback on how it should be delivered.

Key findings from the pilot programme state that girls who are happy with the way their body looks more than doubled their sports participation from 25% to 56% while girls feeling very unhappy about the way their bodies look reduced by more than half from 37% to 16%.

As a result of the pilot programme, the number of girls who look forward to their PE lessons nearly doubled - from 38% to 71% - while the percentage of girls that felt positive about school rose from 24% to 78% and 73% 'like the way they feel' after physical activity compared with 41% previously.

The percentage of girls who 'look forward' to extracurricular sport role from 35% to 66%.

"Many girls are simply not interested in traditional PE and sport and unless schools give their students a voice, and ask them what they would like to take part in, they risk putting them off physical activity for life,” said Youth Sport Trust Managing Director Alison Oliver.

"Participation levels in physical activity among girls are worryingly low. 

"If we are to get girls more active; developing an interest in PE and sport, and a confidence to take part, then we must work with them to understand what appeals to them.

In response to the findings of the pilot the Youth Sport Trust is aiming to get 100,000 girls more active and 2,000 involved in leadership by 2018 and calling for all schools to review and refresh their PE provision and extracurricular sport for girls for the new academic year, involving girls in the process.

The Youth Sport Trust is also set to offer free guidance and support to all schools in the next academic year in how to make PE and sport more appealing to girls.

"Changing the Game for Girls', a research and a pilot study carried out by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, has shown that girls respond more positively to all aspects of PE and school sport if they feel they've been consulted and involved in designing it,” said Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation CEO Ruth Holdaway.

"It's great to see that work being done by the Youth Sport Trust is also proving this to be a successful approach, not only for engaging girls with PE and school sport but also in improving attitudes towards body image and their overall sense of wellbeing.”

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