Embracing alternative sports key to girls’ fitness

Embracing alternative sports key to girls’ fitness

A rise in women taking up non-traditional sports will place further pressure on the Government to modernise and prioritise physical education in the school curriculum.

Thursday’s new national Active Lives survey, produced by Sport England, focused on trends among adults and found an increase in general activity levels and a movement away from pursuits such as cycling, football and team sports towards adventure sports, weight training, yoga, pilates and CrossFit.

It follows the launch last week of The Telegraph’s “Girls, Inspired” campaign to close the gender gap in schools following a range of alarming research showing that girls are disproportionately affected by a national crisis of inactivity. The campaign specifically calls on the Government to enshrine equality of opportunity in sport in its new School Sport Action Plan; to issue new guidelines, enforced by Ofsted, that put the benefits of physical education on a par with core subjects, and for schools to empower girls by offering wider choice through “Girls Active” and “This Girl Can” schemes.

The importance of that third strand is highlighted in Sport England’s new research which shows both that a 185,000 decrease in inactive adults and a rise of almost 500,000 in people doing at least 150 minutes of activity a week is primarily explained by women taking up new sports.

“There is a clear message for anyone delivering sport or physical activities,” said Lisa O’Keefe, Sport England’s insight director. “Trends change. We are not all the same. People like variety and choice. We have to stay relevant and that means understanding what people care about.”

This message has already been implemented with huge success at Grey Court School in Richmond by simply speaking directly to those girls who had become disengaged with PE, and offering additional choices different from traditional competitive school sports.

Yoga, dance, canoeing, aerobics, circuit training, golf, fencing, daily kilometre runs and trips to a local gym have formed part of an offering that has helped to transform the engagement and enjoyment of girls in PE. “It has had a really positive impact, especially on the older girls, and now we have people looking forward to PE and sport,” said PE teacher Kelly Shaw. “We have always had a lot of competitive sport – and we have kept the traditional sports in there – but the students also now know that there are different forms of exercise and activity out there.

“We re-timetabled the whole curriculum. I always feel that if they are selecting what they do, they feel empowered and want to do it.

“We have students who have not liked PE before finding one activity and that is them hooked. It’s a completely different group of students, who we weren’t seeing, now coming to after-school clubs. I fully believe that once someone finds something they enjoy, they will do it forever.”

Grey Court School has been taking part in the Sport England teacher training programme which is being rolled out across England.

 

Source:- telegraph

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