Closed petition Stop sexism - Require schools to offer all sports to all children

The Government should require schools to offer all sports to all children so they get the opportunity to take a sport that they feel comfortable with, rather than being expected to take certain sports because of their gender. This should help tackle sexism and increase participation.

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Many students are made to feel out of place in school sport, and cannot express their true selves when forced to do a sport just because of their gender. It also causes inequality as from day one students are defined by their gender, which can knock some people’s self-confidence. It is archaic that this still happens, and should not be allowed.

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 February 2021

The Government thinks it is right that schools should be free to decide on their own diverse & challenging PE curriculum to meet the needs of all their pupils.

Read the response in full

In doing so, they must have regard to their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

The national curriculum for PE is designed to ensure that all pupils develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities, are physically active for sustained periods of time and lead healthy and active lives. Its aims include that pupils should engage in competitive sports and activities throughout all four key stages. The requirements do not differentiate in relation to sex. The curriculum does not stipulate which sports schools should offer to their pupils. It is up to schools to decide the range of sport they offer.

The Government guidance on the Equality Act makes it clear that, while an exception in the Act allows for the provision of single-sex sporting activities, the school would still have to allow boys and girls equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities.

Since 2013 the Government has provided over £1.6 billion to primary schools to improve the quality of their PE provision, through the PE and Sport Premium. In the Government’s survey on use of the premium, 38 percent of schools reported an increase in participation in girls. Details can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/816676/Primary_PE_and_Sport_Premium_Survey_research_report.pdf

The Department set out in the School Sport Activity Action Plan to support all pupils to be physically active and to address barriers to engagement in under-represented groups. There are a number of specific programmes aimed at supporting participation in under-represented groups including girls.

Sport England has provided £1.5 million funding to help girls’ confidence to take part in sport and activity as part of the This Girl Can campaign, which has already inspired over 3.9 million women and girls to take steps to get active.

The Girls Active programme was created on the back of a 12-month action research project conducted by the Youth Sport Trust and is supported by Women in Sport.

Department for Education

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/331930)

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Original Government response

Schools are free to organise and deliver a diverse & challenging PE curriculum that suits the needs of all their pupils. In doing so, they must have regard to their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

The national curriculum for PE is designed to ensure that all pupils develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities, are physically active for sustained periods of time and lead healthy and active lives. Its aims include that pupils should engage in competitive sports and activities throughout all four key stages. The requirements do not differentiate in relation to sex. The curriculum does not stipulate which sports schools should offer to their pupils; it is up to schools to offer the right range of sports

The Government guidance on the Equality Act makes it clear that, while an exception in the Act allows for the provision of single-sex sporting activities, the school would still have to allow boys and girls equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities.

Since 2013 the Government has provided over £1.6 billion to primary schools to improve the quality of their PE provision, through the PE and Sport Premium. In the Government’s survey on use of the premium, 38 percent of schools reported an increase in participation in girls. Details can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/816676/Primary_PE_and_Sport_Premium_Survey_research_report.pdf

The Department set out its plans in the School Sport Activity Action Plan to support all pupils to be physically active and to address barriers to engagement in under-represented groups. There are a number of specific programmes aimed at supporting participation in under-represented groups including girls.

Sport England has provided £1.5 in million funding to help girls’ confidence to take part in sport and activity as part of the This Girl Can campaign, which has already inspired over 3.9 million women and girls to take steps to become active.

The Girls Active programme was created on the back of a 12-month action research project conducted by the Youth Sport Trust, and is supported by Women in Sport. Girl Active aims at tackling the negative attitudes that some girls have towards their body image, improve their attitude towards PE, sport and physical activity, and to work with schools to make sport more relevant to girls' lives.

Department for Education

This response was given on 14 December 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.