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Active Lives Survey – Children and Young People

The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, carried out nationally throughout the school year, asks children aged between 5 and 16 years old about how much physical activity they take part in, both in and out of school.

Active Lives Children and Young People Survey

Children's activity levels in Sussex increase on average, but significant inequalities remain

Sport England has revealed the results from its Active Lives Children and Young People Survey for the academic year 2022/23.

The survey highlighted the fact that only 47 per cent of children are getting enough exercise. This is as per the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in an average of 60 minutes or more of sport and physical activity a day.

Despite this figure being lower than is hoped for, it has improved and is higher than the last few years have reported.

The Story in Sussex is more positive. The percentage of Children and Young People that are active is 50.9%. This last cohort has seen the highest levels since the survey started in 2017.

As ever, the survey and the data that has been collected does reinforce that participation in sport and physical activity varies greatly. It is not all good news for everyone, experiences and opportunities are impacted depending on their gender, ethnicity, family affluence, and what physical and  social barriers are in their way.


Significant inequalities remain in activity levels, with Children and Young People from Black and Asian communities more likely to both be around 40%. Boys (51 per cent) remain more likely to be physically active than girls (44 per cent).

Pupils that are eligible for Free School Meals are still less likely to play sport or be physically active (47%) than those not eligible (50%). This is across all ethnicities, genders and abilities. So the intersectional realities for the next generation are compounded by poverty.

Female football

The research does reveal a number of positive stories, including 68,000 (1.5 per cent) more girls playing football since the Lionesses won Euro 2022.

There are now 845,000 girls playing the game in England, an increase of 176,000 (four per cent) since the 2017-18 academic year.

Active travel

Levels of active travel remain high following the pandemic, with one million (11.5 per cent) more children and young people walking, cycling or scootering to get places than there were five years ago (academic year 2017-18).


The cost-of-living is still impacting children and young people’s relationship with sport and physical activity.

In February, Sport England’s Activity Check-in revealed almost one in five parents/carers said they were using free activities for their children to socialise with friends instead of paid, while 12 per cent said they’d reduced the regularity of paid activities.

This week’s  report builds on these areas of concern. Children and young people from the least affluent families are the least likely to be active, with only 44 per cent meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines – compared to 55 per cent of those from the most affluent families.

Furthermore, the number of children doing no activity at all in the previous seven days has increased with 127,000 more children (1.4 per cent) falling into this category compared to 2017-18.

This means there are now more than 600,000 children in England doing no activity at all.

This highlights how important it is to meet the Government’s ambitious target of getting one million more children active by the end of the decade, as well as the scale of the challenge facing the country to do so.

The report below is a summary of the headlines. If you are interested in what insight can be found in your local area around a specific issue, group or activity around, please get in touch with our Insight Officer, Mac Ince. Active Lives asks lots of questions. We could create a massive report that attempts to cover many of these. Further to what’s presented here, there is data on the following:

Children and Young People Activity Data

covers the different sports and activities available from the Active Lives survey. Participation rates show whether Children and Young People have taken part anywhere in the last week, during school hours, outside of school hours and then either indoors and outdoors (outside of school hours). Overall levels of activity, swimming capability, swimming confidence, volunteering, spectating, mental well-being and outcome measures can also be reviewed using this section of the tool.

Children and Young People Attitudes Data

provides findings for attitudes towards sport and physical activity. The attitudes measured include enjoyment, confidence, competence, understanding and knowledge. These five attitudes are used to measure physical literacy.
Data can also be broken down by the numbers of positive attitudes present, enabling physical literacy analysis too.

Updates to the smaller area estimates that are included below are due to be circulated soon, please contact Mac Ince if you would like to know when these are uploaded.

Active-Lives Children and Young People data 2022/23

There’s been an overall improvement on last year’s activity levels, but some groups still face significant inequalities.
Read more about these groups in this report.

Watch our video for an overview of the 2020-21 results in Sussex.

Interpreting the results for your area

The proportion of children in each activity bracket is shown below. The short black bars indicate the confidence intervals for each result, i.e. where the ‘true’ rate is likely to lie between. Smaller sample sizes mean wider confidence intervals. This data is due to be updated soon, as per the new Sport England estimates.

Activity rates at school

Government guidelines say that children and young people should get 30 minutes of their daily physical activity at school and 30 minutes outside of school. Only 47% of children and young people in Sussex are active for on average 30 minutes per day at school in Sussex.

Activity rates outside of school

56% of children and young people in Sussex are active on average for 30 minutes per day outside of school. This equal to the national average.

41.6% of children and young people in Sussex are active for less than 30 minutes on average per day outside of schools. This is similar to the national average of 42.8%.

Years 1-2 were reported to be the most active outside of school. Secondary school students have higher reported inactivity outside of school than primary school students.

Activity rate by Primary/Secondary

Half of primary school children in Sussex were active every day, or active across the week. This was slightly higher than the average for the South East. One in four primary school children were active for less than 30 minutes per day on average.

44% of secondary school students in Sussex were active every day, or active across the week. Again this was slightly higher than the average for the South East, but there does seem to be a fall in activity between primary and secondary school. One in three secondary school students were active for less than an average of 30 minutes a day.

Mac Ince

Insight officer

If you have any questions about using data or insight within what you do, speak to Mac to see if he can help.

Mac is responsible for analysing activity data to provide Active Sussex and partners with the insight needed to help people become more active.
He keeps up-to-date with all publicly available data sets and reports, that bring out that useful insight.
Mac works across all teams at Active Sussex, and work closely with the Marketing and Communications officer to ensure effective communication of strategic messages around physical inactivity through case studies and reports, as well as sharing impact and learning with external stakeholders.

He is also responsible for Active Sussex’s GDPR compliance policies. So if you are worried about Data Protection, drop him a line, and he'll do his best to help you.

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