Recent research has revealed a concerning trend - the "enjoyment gap" in Physical Education (PE) classes between girls and boys is widening. The Youth Sport Trust's annual Girls Active survey, initiated in 2016, found that only 64% of girls currently enjoy PE, in stark contrast to 86% of boys. This disparity is particularly pronounced in secondary schools, where just 59% of girls find PE enjoyable.
Not only is this gap widening, but it is also alarming in light of other studies that have indicated a decline in girls' mental health during the pandemic. It is crucial to address this issue and explore how wellbeing programmes can bridge the gap, ensuring that all girls can access the physical and mental benefits of PE.
The Declining Enjoyment of PE among Girls
The Youth Sport Trust's Girls Active survey, featuring responses from over 18,500 girls aged 7 to 18, paints a vivid picture of the challenges girls face in PE:
Enjoyment Gap: Only 64% of all girls enjoy PE, compared to 86% of boys. This gap is even wider in secondary schools, where just 59% of girls find PE enjoyable. Back in 2016, 74% of all girls enjoyed PE, indicating a troubling downward trend.
Barriers to Participation: A myriad of barriers prevents girls from participating in PE. These include a lack of confidence, concerns related to menstruation, fear of being watched by others, and anxieties about their appearance. These obstacles hinder girls' engagement in physical activities, leading to decreased enjoyment and participation.
Motivations: The research also highlights the motivations for girls' involvement in physical activities. Having fun and being with friends are the top two drivers for girls to participate in sport, physical activity, and PE at school.
The Importance of Wellbeing Programmes
To bridge the enjoyment gap in PE classes, we need to focus on wellbeing programmes that can empower girls to overcome the barriers and find joy in physical activity. Here are several reasons why wellbeing programmes are the solution:
Mental and Physical Health: Wellbeing programmes encompass both mental and physical health, offering a holistic approach to personal development. Engaging in activities that promote mental and emotional wellbeing can help girls manage stress, boost their self-esteem, and develop resilience.
Building Confidence: Many girls report a lack of confidence as a barrier to participation in PE. Wellbeing programmes can incorporate activities designed to build self-confidence and self-kindness..
Inclusivity and Empowerment: These programmes can be tailored to individual needs and preferences, making physical activity more inclusive. By giving girls a say in the activities they engage in, they can feel empowered and motivated to participate.
Breaking Stigmas: Addressing issues like menstruation and body image in a safe and supportive environment is crucial. Wellbeing programmes can provide a platform for open discussions and education, helping girls break free from societal stigmas.
Peer and Mentor Support: Programmes can encourage girls to collaborate with friends and mentors who can provide guidance and encouragement. This sense of community can motivate girls to remain active and enjoy their PE experience.
Future Action: Your Partner in Empowering Girls
Here at Future Action, we understand the importance of empowering teachers and educators to deliver wellbeing programmes in a way that best suits your setting and your young people. Our online teacher training courses are designed to equip you with the confidence, knowledge and tools necessary to create a positive and impactful experience for your students.
Our courses guide you to:
Create psychological safety so your girls can thrive. This essential aspect ensures that your girls feel emotionally secure, can express themselves freely, and take risks without fear of judgment.
Teach the link between physical activity, play and mental wellbeing.
Identify young people struggling with their mental health and direct them to the specialist support they need as early as possible.
Provide young people with a range of self-care strategies to protect and build their mental wellbeing.
By partnering with Future Action, you can make a significant difference in the lives of your girls, by fostering their wellbeing, improving their enjoyment of PE, and enhancing their overall physical and mental health.
Take the first step here
Take your first step here by completing the School Wellbeing scorecard:
Complimentary Gift - You will also receive complimentary access to our taster ‘RISE Up’ online teacher training course so you can learn how to move your school from reactive to proactive when identifying children who are struggling with their mental health in one easy step.
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