Three-year trend of girls reporting same barriers to PE

The barriers to physical activity in schools reported by girls have remained the same over the last three years, but periods have become a bigger concern over the last academic year, according to data from the Youth Sport Trust's Girls Active programme.

The survey of 27,867 girls shows that 37% of girls said their periods stopped them from getting active in school in 2020/21 vs 27% in 2018/19. A rise of 10 percentage points. Thirty-three per cent said they were not confident to get active in school in 2020/21 vs 30% in 2018/19, which is a rise of 3 percentage points. What's more, 33% of girls said other people watching them take part in physical activity in school put them off in 2020/21 vs 27% in 2018/19, which is a rise of 6 percentage points

Through the Youth Sport Trust’s Girls Active programme, which is funded by the National Lottery through Sport England and supported by Women in Sport, it is empowering more girls to learn how to engage their peers and support teachers to remove barriers.

Wendy Taylor, Development Manager for Girls Active at the Youth Sport Trust: “Our Girls Active research has revealed that girls being on their period significantly impacts their ability to feel confident, comfortable and participate in PE, sport and physical activity, particularly at school. We know the issue is multi-faceted and complex with other concerns such as poor body-image, feeling on show, and feeling self-conscious in PE kit contributing further to their confidence at this time.  

“We want to understand further from girls what would help make a positive difference to them during their periods, so they feel that physical activity is a space that supports and helps them. Through Girls Active we have seen 93% of girls involved learn how to get other girls to enjoy being active and 84% of Girls Active leaders say they like being active more now through the programme.” Wendy added.

The Youth Sport Trust research found that having fun and being healthy were consistently rated by girls as the top motivators for taking part in physical activity at school over the last three years. In its Class of 2035 report, which launched last month, one of its core recommendations is to give young people a greater voice in provision.

As part of International Day of the Girl, the Youth Sport Trust is encouraging schools to share and use its research and ensure PE lessons focus on these motivations for engaging pupils. It also plans to undertake some deeper insight with teenage girls to hear directly from them on issues, worries and what further can support them.

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