We have been wowed by some amazing young athletes recently – Sky Brown, Emma Raducanu, Maisie Summers Newton – but they sadly can be seen as the exception. Just 15% of girls meet WHO recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day. Amongst 5 – 7 year olds, only 23% achieve this target.
The Department for Education is investing £1.2m to improve school sport for girls but we can all do more to encouraging young girls to develop an active lifestyle. As a PE lead you can play a pivotal role in inspiring girls to take part in sport. Here are six ways you can help:
Talk about females in sport
We all need someone to look up to. Just 30% of girls dream of reaching the top of sport compared with 60% of boys. Highlight women role models, these can be on the national and international stage or heroes closer to home – celebrate the successes and stories of active women and girls in your school and community. For example, if you are chatting about the weekend’s football results with your class, remember to talk about the results from the Women’s Super League.
Create safe spaces for girls to play sport at your school
Levelling up starts on the playing field. Look at how your pupils use your active spaces. Are the boys dominating the MUGA? Many girls feel uncomfortable about taking part in sports and activities under the gaze of boys. Can you create opportunities for girls-only activities, a space that they can use for their games or a fair share of the MUGA?
For every boys team, have a girls team
Football, cricket, rugby. It can be argued that mixed teams provide an opportunity for girls too, however, only the most confident and competent of girls are likely to take part with the boys. A girls’ only team will provide a safer space for girls to experiment with participating in sporting activities.
Challenge negative stereotypes
‘Throw like a girl’ ‘Run like a girl’ ‘This is a boys sport’ Make sure you, and all other staff within your school, address every negative stereotype heard. Constant reminding and reinforcing the message will help build confidence and belief amongst girls.
Encourage your female staff to become role models
Supporting girls to be active isn’t solely down to you. As we said at the beginning, we all play a part in creating a culture where activity is seen as integral to school life. This will help girls want to become more active. Make sure your female staff talk about and share stories of the sports and activities that they do. The more girls see other females playing sports or being active, the more it is normalised and seen as something that ‘we all do’.
Ask girls what sports and activities they are interested in
When pupils feel they have been involved in a decision and their opinions have been heard, their motivation increases. Research shows that girls response more positively to PE and school sport if they feel they have been part of the consultation process.
For more ideas and examples on how to create better experiences for girls in sport take a look at
Women in Sport’s Changing the Game for Girls Teacher Toolkit
Nike’s Made to Play Guide
Girls Football in School from Youth Sport Trust and the FA