Approaches to supporting children back into general, fun sport and physical activity have been varied and disparate across Scotland in response to Covid. Observatory for Sport in Scotland research showed 10 of 32 local authorities allowed children in state schools to return to school sport in September 2020, when all independent schools restored sport activity across the curriculum, in school and extra-curricular. Although those ten permitted it, sport did not return in some areas due to a lack of staff, volunteers and confidence. By contrast, in 2020, the New Zealand government led a shift for sport to be given more space in the school day to support children and young people in their return from lockdown, using school sport as a tool to improve physical and mental health. Still, in Scotland, very few state schools have returned to pre-Covid levels of sport activity, with various reasons from staff pressure to children lacking confidence and motivation to return. Research tells us that children who play fun sport through teen years are more likely to be active as adults, and conversely children who drop out from 11 years on are less likely to be active. The adolescent period is crucial and school sport enables children from all backgrounds to participate, without barrriers of cost, travel and support associated with some evening and weekend sport. This requires a national, strategic focus to support schools and enable children to return to play inclusive and fun sport.
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