Virtual physical education should be priority in schools, says sport charity

The chief executive of Youth Sport Trust said daily physical activity is vital in supporting children’s wellbeing

Children’s sport charity Youth Sport Trust have urged schools to implement a virtual physical education curriculum focused on recovery during England’s third lockdown.

This, according to the charity’s chief executive, Ali Oliver MBE, could be a “game changer for young people’s wellbeing” – especially those who became less active during the first two lockdowns.

According to a Sport England report published in July 2020, 93% of children under 16 continued to do something to stay active during the first lockdown, but the amount of activity they did decreased. Whilst 19% of children were doing an hour or more of physical activity on a typical day, 43% reported to have been doing less than half an hour of physical activity a day.

Lockdown meant the widespread closure of schools, playgrounds, leisure centres, gyms, pitches and courts, causing huge disruption to children’s physical activity. Now, England is set to remain in lockdown until potentially March.

Oliver said: “As millions of young people across the country now move back to remote learning, the continuation of physical education and daily physical activity will be vital in supporting their wellbeing.

“We know that young people’s activity levels plummeted during the first lockdown, and this has contributed to some of the issues they are now facing – from mental health difficulties and low levels of physical fitness to developmental delays.

“Schools have done so much in overcoming impossible challenges in the last 10 months to keep children safe and able to learn. Over the coming weeks a virtual physical education curriculum focused on recovery should be a priority. This could be a game changer for young people’s wellbeing.”

A number of independent schools have shared their plans for virtual sport with their online communities.

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