Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of the Youth Sport Trust: Schools need to use PE to tackle obesity crisis

Schools in England are being urged to grasp the wider academic and health benefits of PE and sport to help tackle a “crisis of inactivity” among young people.

Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of the Youth Sport Trust, said that while some schools understood the impact that PE and sport could have on pupils, many are still missing the opportunity.

Speaking ahead of the Trust's national conference, which starts today, Baroness Campbell said too many young people were not being encouraged to lead healthy and active lives.

“The costs of physical inactivity are plain for all to see,” she said. “Childhood obesity levels continue to dominate the headlines, and we know that being inactive increases the risk of developing a host of other chronic conditions.

“A healthy, active child is more likely to perform better academically across all subjects; they will be more confident individuals, have greater employability skills and are far more likely to have higher levels of self esteem.

“It is important that headteachers understand these benefits and use PE and sport creatively across their schools. While many schools understand how to use PE and sport to make a much wider impact, others are missing the opportunity and risk not tackling some of the major issues facing young people.”

Baroness Campbell said that the government’s £150 million annual investment in primary PE and sport, announced last year, could make a “significant difference” in schools if spent wisely.

Heads have been given the freedom to spend the cash as they see fit, but Baroness Campbell said they should use it to improve the skills of their teachers.

Edward Timpson, the minister responsible for school sport, said reforms, including specialist primary PE teachers and a focus on competitive sport in the curriculum, would give every child the chance to be fit and healthy, to develop their physical literacy and to reach their sporting potential.

More than 500 heads and school sport teachers are set to attend the two-day conference in Telford.