21 UK Sports and Education Statistics for 2024 [Infographic]

Whenever the school bell rings for PE, you’ll hear mixed reactions from the kids. It’s either frustrated groans or sighs of relief. Whichever the case, you can’t really downplay the benefits of exercise in school. Sports and education statistics tell us precisely that and more!

That’s why most schools in the UK and worldwide conduct sporting activities like gymnastics, football, lacrosse, swimming, tennis, and many more. The primary reason cited is that these activities inculcate teamwork and provide necessary exercise for kids.

But is that all?

At Mark in Style, we decided to look at some UK sports and education statistics to determine their far-reaching benefits and whether UK schools are doing enough to incorporate them.

Top 10 Energizing Sports Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Key Stage 3 students do 124 minutes of PE per week.
  • 10% of UK schools admitted that sports education has declined over time.
  • 67% of UK teachers feel the government should be more vocal about the value of PE.
  • 55% of students between Years 1 and 13 play 3 hours of sports outside schools.
  • Football is the most common activity among 11-15-year-olds, with 56.1% playing it over a month.
  • In 2020, 3.2 million children were active for an average of 60 minutes a day.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, boys have been more active in playing sports (47%) than girls (43%).
  • 49% of kids with 2 long-term disabilities play sports.
  • 77% of Year 7 kids are able to swim 25 metres unaided.
  • 40% of active kids said they experienced personal development because they play sports.

General Sports and Education Statistics

1. A survey of 487 UK schools revealed that P.E. in schools ran for 124 minutes per week at Key Stage 3 but decreased as pupils grew older. 

(Sports Think Tank)

This 2018 survey noticed a downward trend in sports activities for school kids. As pupils grew older, physical exercise decreased in their curricula.

On a typical week, Key Stage 3 kids had 124 minutes of PE, but Key Stage 5 kids had only 26 minutes. That’s a startling decrease of 90 minutes of activity.

Let’s inspect this downward trend further:

2. 10% of UK schools admitted that sports education has declined over time. 

(Sports Think Tank)

This downward spiral is most widespread among Key Stage 4 kids, where 24% of schools reported that PE minutes were cut down in their curricula.

Between 2013 and 2018, the decrease of PE among Key Stage 3 kids was by 20%, while for Key Stage 4 kids, it was 38%

3. When asked the reasons for the declining importance of physical education in schools, 38% of teachers cited core subjects being allotted more time. 

(Sports Think Tank)

There were a lot of reasons that teachers cited for PE taking a backseat in the curricula.

Let’s look at some of them:

  • Core subjects were given additional time –  38%
  • Exam pressures of Progress 8 and eBacc – 33%
  • Cuts to the number of PE staff – 11%
  • Lack of support from senior leaders – 8%

Only 17% of UK schools did not cut down PE. 

4. 97% of the 595 teachers surveyed said that they agree that schools should value PE more because of the benefits of physical activity for children

(Sports Think Tank)

97% of UK school teachers have unanimously agreed on the role of PE in preventing childhood obesity. Exercise also releases beta-endorphins and serotonin that drive mental wellbeing and increase concentration. All in all, exercise shapes kids into better learners.

Read on to find out what steps teachers feel the authorities should take:

5. Physical education statistics showed that 67% of UK teachers feel the government should be more vocal about the value of PE. 

(Sports Think Tank)

Teachers cited a number of measures that could make PE an essential component of the curriculum. Let’s look at them:

  • Government to be more vocal on the value of PE – 67%
  • A better understanding of the value of PE from senior leaders and governors in school – 61%
  • Stop students being taken out of core PE for intervention from other subjects –  54%
  • Including health and wellbeing measures as part of school accountability and league tables – 48%
  • Ofsted inspection framework to show more interest in PE – 47%
  • A better understanding of the value of PE from students – 40%
  • Better PE facilities – 40%
  • Change examination PE qualifications to better match the needs of all students – 39%
  • More time to plan high-quality lessons – 29%
  • The improved breadth of PE, with a greater variety of activities – 18%
  • Improved competence of PE staff to deliver high-quality lessons – 10%

Key takeaway:

[bctt tweet=”On the whole, the lack of funding for PE in secondary schools reverses the progress of PE in primary schools. Proper funding for gym equipment, sports goods, and increased inclusion in the curriculum should be the norm in secondary schools.” via=”no”]

6. A study conducted by the Department of Education found that 55% of students between Years 1 and 13 play 3 hours of sports outside schools. 

(Department for Education)

Students in the same age bracket did 3 hours of physical education in schools.

The percentage of students participating in at least 3 hours of PE and out-of-school sports climbed in elementary school but fell in secondary school.

7. Sports and education statistics among 5-10-year-olds showed that 82.5% of them played sports outside school.

(Department for Education)

Moreover, 94.7% of 11-15-year-olds did sports in or outside school over a typical week.

5% of students in Years 6, 8, and 10 said they were never active during lessons at school.

Finally, 21% of these students admitted that their lessons included some active components every day.

8. Youth football stats tell us it is the most common activity among 11-15-year-olds, with 56.1% of them playing it over a month. 

(Department for Education)

Since 2011, other sporting activities have also increased in popularity among the youth – tennis, rugby, cricket, table tennis, athletics, track and field events, running races and jumping.

On the other hand:

Activities like walking and hiking took a downward plunge. 

9. Swimming was the most common activity for kids between 5 and 10 years, as 47.6% of them did it over a month.

(Department for Education)

Sports statistics for kids between age 5 and 10 showed that while swimming was the most popular exercise, walking, hiking, angling, and fishing saw a drop in participation.

Next up, let’s dive into organised competitive sports:

10. Sport participation statistics for 5-10-year-olds revealed 81.6% of them took part in some competitive sports. 

(Department for Education)

Of kids belonging to this age bracket, 77.8% took part in sports competitions held in school, while 37.9% participated outside school.

If you’re wondering what kind of activities were offering competition for the youth, here are the stats:

  • 5-10-year-olds taking part in organized competitions – 64.6%
  • 11-15-year-olds competing against others in PE or game lessons – 76%

COVID-19 Sports and Education Statistics

11. The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey report published in 2021 laid out that 3.2 million children were active for an average of 60 minutes a day. 

(Sport England)

This is what they found for the 2019-2020 academic year:

  • 31.3% of children and young people in England (2.3 million) do less than an average of 30 minutes a day.
  • 23.8% (1.7 million) are fairly active but don’t reach an average of 60 minutes a day.
  • 44.9% (3.2 million) do an average of 60 minutes or more a day.

12. Sports participation statistics report that the proportion of children partaking in sports in England has decreased by 1.9%, equating to a drop of 86,500 people. 

(Sport England)

The summer school term (during which restrictions were eased) saw extraordinary disruption due to the Coronavirus pandemic. School facilities were closed to most students and many activities were either severely restricted or given in a different manner.

So, there was an increase of 2.4% (201,400 young people) in the proportion of those in England who were less active over the last year. Levels remain down compared to 2017-2018.

Coming up, the demographics of sports participation:

13. Boys were more active in playing sports (47%) than girls (43%).

(Sport England)

However, boys’ activity levels plummeted due to the Coronavirus, while girls were able to maintain activity levels.

Excluding Years 1-2 (ages 5-7), where there is no reasonable gender gap, the functional gender gap narrows as kids grow older.

14. Facts about exercise reveal that 53% of kids from highly affluent families were the most active.

(Sport England)

45% of kids from middle-income families were active, compared to only 38% of low-income family children.

The worrying thing is:

Exercise levels have dropped for children and young people from low-income families from a year ago, while they have remained unchanged for the two other groups.

This is due to a drop during the spring term, which overlapped with many storms and floods around the country, demonstrating the critical role that school plays in providing chances for children and young people from low-income families.

15. 49% of kids with 2 long-term disabilities play sports, while 46% of other players were without disabilities. 

(Sport England)

It comes as excellent news that there is minimal difference in activity levels between people who have a disability or a long-term health condition and those who do not, health and fitness facts confirm.

Also, regardless of the number of impairments a child has, there are no notifiable differences:

  • 48% of young players have 1 impairment or health condition.
  • 49% of them have 2 impairments.
  • 45% have 3 or more health problems.
  • 46% of young players have no special needs or impairments.

16. In 2020, White British (47%) and White Other (48%) kids were the most active ethnic groups.

(Sport England)

Black children were the least active, at 35%. Both Asians and mixed-race kids were active at 42%. The gender divide in levels of activity is greatest among Asian and Black youths, with males being more active.

17. Physical education statistics showed that 77% of Year 7 kids were able to swim 25 metres unaided. 

(Sport England)

PESSYP guidelines lay down that by the end of primary school, students should be able to swim effectively, confidently, and successfully across a distance of at least 25 metres.

In a positive turn of events, 77% of Year 7 kids can do this.

Swimming proficiency typically increases with age, and an average of 64% of all children and young adults in Years 1-11 (ages 5-16) can swim 25 metres independently.

However, the ability to swim 25 metres alone varies significantly depending on family wealth.

Here’s the scoop:

84% of children and young people from the most wealthy families are able to do so, compared to only 41% of those from the lowest income homes.

The Importance of Exercise for Kids

18. In 2015, nearly one-third of kids aged between 2 and 15 were obese, due to lack of exercise.

(NHS Digital)

Only 22% of children aged 5 to 15 in England meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity.

What’s worse:

40% of children did fewer than 30 minutes per day.

19. Physically active kids in England aged between 7 and 16 years marked their happiness levels at 7.1 out of 10. 

(Sport England)

One of the many benefits of physical education for children is its enhancement of mental wellbeing.

  • Active kids were happy at 7.1 on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Fairly Active kids were happy, at 6.9 on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Active kids were happy, at 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

20. 40% of active kids said they experienced individual development because they play sports

(Sport England)

How do you measure individual development?

For the convenience of this study, kids were asked whether they continued trying to achieve a task after failing.

These were the results:

  • 40% of active kids responded yes.
  • 33% of fairly active kids responded yes.
  • 32% of less active kids said yes.

21. Physical education in schools statistics reveal it led to the community development of 27% of active children.

(Sport England)

For this study, kids were asked if they trust people of similar ages to gauge their sense of community. The link between exercising and community development were apparent:

  • Active kids demonstrated a trust of 27%.
  • Fairly active kids trusted others up to 24%.
  • Less active kids trusted only up to 22%.


Sport is greatly valued in today’s school curriculum for a variety of reasons. Physical activity not only improves health and wellbeing but also increases comprehension of the role it plays in everyday life. Studies have also revealed that exercise and competitive sports might improve overall performance in the classroom.

As we’ve seen from these stats, there has been an attitudinal change whereby teachers recognize the importance of sports. They no longer consider it in opposition to academic progress but as a contributing factor to it.

A fun fitness fact:

Children who take PE in school grow up to be adults who do not have sedentary lives.

By increasing funding for sports education and offering a variety of activities in schools, it is possible to include the entire student population in this crucial and enriching curriculum component.

People Also Ask

Q: How do sports affect education?

A: Facts about exercise reveal that sports aid academic performance by boosting mental health and knowledge retention and improving brain skills such as problem-solving, resilience, perseverance, and concentration for learners.

Q: What percentage of students are in sports?

Sports and education statistics from the UK have found that over half (54.1%) of students were gym members or took part in sport, with 18.0% doing both, 14.6% just gym members, and 21.5% just sports members.

Q: How many hours of PE is compulsory in schools in the UK?

A: Sports and education statistics tell us it is up to schools to determine how much time is devoted to PE in the curriculum. Most guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 hours of curricular PE per week.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *