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Disabled children will be impacted by fall in PE hours

Figures released by Government last week show that 4000 hours of PE have been lost from the curriculum in state-funded secondary schools in the last academic year. This is an ongoing trend that has seen the amount of PE and sport in secondary schools in England fall by more than 12% since the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Young visually impaired girl playing adapted tennis game

National charity Youth Sport Trust have called the diminishing hours of PE a matter of immediate national concern. We fully support their statement that these cuts pose a threat to the wellbeing of young people. Extensive evidence already shows that disabled children take part in less sport and physical activity than non-disabled children. It is highly likely that they are being hit hardest by the reduced hours of PE in schools. 

In 2020 we published our My Active Future report, showing that disabled children are less active than their peers and experience more barriers. The findings highlighted the clear activity gap between disabled and non-disabled children. 

Stark figures in our report found that one third of disabled children took part in less than 30 minutes of sport and physical activity per day during term-time (30% vs 21% of non-disabled children). Only a quarter (25%) of disabled children said they took part in sport and activity all of the time at school, compared to 41% of non-disabled children. 

Adam Blaze, CEO of Activity Alliance, said: 

"We know that disabled children are regularly left behind their non-disabled peers in school sport and activity. With a significant number of hours of PE lost from the curriculum over a sustained period this is sure to have a terrible knock-on effect for disabled pupils. 
"The recently published School Sport and Activity Action Plan update recognised that PE and sport are a vital part of a child’s life. Positive PE experiences are crucial in supporting children to go on to enjoy being active for life. Disabled children must benefit from physical activity as much as non-disabled children.  
"Our Inclusion 2024 inclusive education hub, produced in partnership with Youth Sport Trust and Department for Education, gives education practitioners across England access to all the essential resources for inclusive PE in one space. There are many brilliant examples of high-quality inclusive PE across the country. If this worrying downward trend in hours taught continues, disabled children will undoubtedly lose out. 
"All children must be allowed to enjoy the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of PE in school. It is as vital as any other lesson taught in school, and one that will help our future generations flourish. We must ensure no child is excluded in any proposal to increase hours of PE taught."

Click here to access the Inclusion 2024 inclusive education hub.