BLOG: Sport England’s Active Lives survey shows there are some positives for FE

AoC Sport Policy Manager Matt Rhodes analyses the latest Sport England Active Lives survey and what it means for sport and physical activity in further education. 

The impact of Covid 19 and associated restrictions have been highlighted in the most recent Active Lives Survey published by Sport England. The report covers the period from May 2020 to May 2021.

Young people aged between 16-24 were hugely affected, with 446,000 fewer classed as active in comparison to the previous period. The report also showed that existing inequalities relating to ethnicity, socio economics and disability grew during the lockdowns.

Looking at the overall picture is concerning. However, there is some light for the FE sector, who in comparison to schools and universities limited the downturn in activity levels.

In the last 12 months the percentage of FE students classed as active (150+minutes a week) has decreased by 1.8% in comparison with decreases of 5.3% and 5.1% in schools and universities respectively. There is also a small increase in the number of FE students classed as inactive (less than 30 minutes a week).

Overall, though just 62.5% of FE students are classed as active compared with 69.4% in HE and 70.3% in schools, but above the national adult average of 60.9%.

Colleges and partners showed great tenacity and commitment in ensuring there were opportunities for FE students to engage in sport and physical activity during various lockdowns. During lockdown, students from over 100 colleges walked, ran or cycled over 555,000 miles as part of AoC Sport virtual challenges. They recognised how crucial this was for their mental and physical health.

Moving forward sport and physical activity is even more crucial as part of education recovery for students as we emerge from the pandemic. This will require support and investment from partners and colleges to unlock the huge benefits of activity for all students and staff.