School PE declines as Olympic legacy is 'squandered’

Successive governments have been accused of squandering the sporting legacy left by the 2012 Olympics in London, amid evidence that falling amounts of school time are being used for PE.

Official figures show that the share of school hours spent on PE has suffered from a slow and steady decline since 2013, from 8.4 per cent of school time to 7.7 per cent. New Sport England figures also reveal that, heading into the pandemic, about a third of children and young people in London, the north-west, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber were active for, on average, less than 30 minutes a day.

Guidelines from the chief medical officer state that children should be active for an average of 60 minutes every day, with 30 active minutes taking place within the school day.

Alison McGovern, Labour’s Shadow Sport Minister, said that a new ‘comprehensive strategy’ was needed for grassroots sports to make sure that ‘another great summer of Olympic inspiration doesn’t go to waste’.

Labour said it spent more than £1 billion on sport and recreation facilities during the financial year ending in 2010, representing £1.24 billion in real terms today. In 2019-20, the government spent £657 million – a real-terms drop of more than 47 per cent, according to Labour.

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