School girls empowered to become campaigners for PE

New resources have been rolled out to girls in secondary schools as part of a campaign to empower them to get their peers active

National statistics show that from the age of five up, boys are more active than girls at every age. Sport England data from its Active Lives: Children & Young People survey revealed that boys (51%) are more likely to be active than girls (43%).

Part of the national This Girl Can campaign – which is back on TV with brand new adverts – This Girl Can…Create Change is a charity partnership delivered by the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England funded by the National Lottery.

Girls aged 11 to 18 will receive practical ideas and advice about how they can get their friends, families, and teachers active. It encourages girls to set up PE opinion boxes in school changing rooms, use social media to promote positive messages about getting active, and plan flash mobs in school lobbies to celebrate PE and school sport.

The campaign recognises that friends are the greatest influencers on adolescent girls and that positive encouragement and support from their peers is the most effective way to get girls more active.

Since its launch five years ago, This Girl Can has inspired nearly three million women to take steps towards or become more active. Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust are now taking the award-winning formula into secondary schools by refreshing resources for teachers.
Kate Dale, from Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, said: “Teachers play a crucial role in helping their students develop positive attitudes towards PE, and we’ve introduced these resources to help teachers make PE engaging for students.

“Sport England’s research shows that fun – above all else – is the number one factor motivating children to get active. With these new resources, girls can become the Greta Thunberg’s of their school by helping other girls enjoy activity. The students themselves are going to be the ones improving the design and delivery of PE so it works for them.”

The resources also support girls to lobby teachers and head teachers to explain how young campaigners can raise awareness, change attitudes and inform provision. The resource guide for teachers aims to help schools to construct a curriculum that meets every girl’s needs – now and for future success.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “We know from our research and other girls focussed programmes that girls’ needs differ and change as they mature. When girls have input on the design and delivery of their PE and sport offer, we know it has incredible results.

“We are really excited by the This Girl Can…Create Change resources. It presents a real opportunity to develop the next generation of PE and school sport campaigners in our schools that we desperately need to prevent curriculum time for the subject from being squeezed, and to make a stance against the decline in girls getting active.”

The campaign forms part of a wider programme of work by the organisations to help young people get active – including their offer of free training to 17,000 secondary school PE teachers to help young people develop a positive attitude towards PE and being active so they are more likely to be active adults.

Already schools are putting the resources into practice with schools across the country using the tips and ideas to empower girls.

One school told children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust that a group of its students had joined together to form a This Girl Can team to support staff to introduce monthly activities and brand them with names like Fit Feb, Match March and Action April to promote fun and getting more of their peers moving.

Another school the charity contacted said it had made posters of all its female staff taking part in sport or physical activity and put them up in the corridors as role models for students.

The programme is backed by a £13.5 million investment from Sport England between now and 2021 and teachers can get their schools involved by downloading the resources at

Schools said they believed the campaign and resources will impact a lot on raising the profile of girls’ PE, sport and physical activity across their schools.

One teacher said: “As a girls inner city school we are hoping the resources will help break stereotypes and remove barriers about what girls should/shouldn't and can/can't do.

“I would like sport to be accessible for all and enjoyable. I would like to use this programme to assist in developing lifelong participation for girls. I feel that this needs to be a whole school approach in order for it to be successful.”