School Sport Survey: Giving Young People a Voice

The 2013 & 2015 School Sport Surveys broke records in terms of the amount of young people's views that they captured.

This mass voice has been extremely influential in terms of national policies and decision making, but what perhaps has been even more encouraging is the way in which it has started the ball rolling for localised decision making.

Sports councils have popped up across the country and they are giving pupils an on-going say in the types of sport and activity they get to take part in, which in turn is leading to more confident, more active and happier children.

A Monmouthshire primary school teacher says that sport is simply buzzing in her school - and it's all down to creating a School Sports Council.

It has made such an impact - improving wellbeing, confidence and levels of exercise - that Sarah Burbidge of Shirenewton Primary School is now urging other schools to follow suit.

She was completing the Sport Wales School Sport Survey back in 2013 and one of the questions asked if we had a School Sports Council and I thought, "No, we don't. Why ever not?

"We spoke to the Headteacher and Governors and explained the impact on wellbeing it would have on the pupils and then it was full steam ahead. It's been absolutely wonderful and has had a bigger impact than I could ever have imagined.

"The biggest change was that we placed a much greater importance on pupil voice. I would implore everyone to have a Sports Council. It has made such a difference in terms of the pupils' enjoyment of PE.

"The Sports Council now has a responsibility to drive forward sport in our school. They suggest events and new clubs and listen to suggestions from pupils."

Simple things like installing a suggestions board means that pupils at Shirenewton are now having a greater say in what sports they want to take part in:

"Dance is part of the curriculum and the boys are not that keen. But this year, they've asked to do aPirates of the Caribbeanthemed dance. We always try to do our best to accommodate their ideas."

Children also have the opportunity to earn certificates each week: "for teamwork, collaboration, that sort of thing."

The Foundation Phase has this year enjoyed lunchtime taster sessions in rugby and dodgeball: "They absolutely love learning new skills!" says Sarah.

"The Sports Council children lead the Foundation Phase sessions and they are also learning new skills in teaching and leadership.  They have grown in confidence."

"We have also started table tennis and athletics clubs. It's all come about because of the survey and the realisation we needed a focus group to champion sport. There is an Eco Committee for example but there wasn't a group pushing sport and coming up with ideas."

The school places a significant emphasis on health and wellbeing. And Sarah says that pupils are undertaking much more exercise:

"We were shocked to see in the findings that there were a significant number of children not feeling comfortable when they were doing PE. So that's a big thing that we've pushed. I'll be interested to see the results of that in the next survey.

"The Year 6s attitude towards PE has improved significantly since they've been involved in some of the decision making; they seem much happier and comfortable during PE sessions and that is obviously very important to us."

Sarah says she has the survey to thank for ensuring the pupil is heard: "They have been able to make decisions and engage in activities which they wouldn't have been able to before. The survey flags up things you weren't aware of before. At the end of the day, as teachers, our job is to listen to the children and improve their experiences as much as possible."

The 2018 School Sport Survey will aim to ensure that the voice of young people remains at the forefront of decision making.  For this to happen we need as many young people as possible to be taking part in the survey.

For more information about how to get involved visit