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Sports strategy: Sport England’s Active People Survey to be replaced

By Matthew Campelli    17 Dec 2015
Jennie Price said the strategy was 'a really important milestone for grassroots sport in England' / Sport England

Sport England’s Active People Survey will be scrapped in favour of research that explores different types of physical activity rather than just traditional outdoor sports.

The Active Lives survey was revealed by the government’s sport strategy as the primary source of data the grassroots governing body will use to measure participation going forward. Activities such as cycling, dancing and walking are due to be measured under the new framework, which forms part of a move to eradicate the distinction between sport and broader physical activity, described by the Strategy as “unhelpful, outdated and irrelevant.”

As part of Sport England’s new remit, the research will measure the activity of individuals aged five and above. Next year both surveys will run concurrently, with Active Lives taking the place of the Active People Survey at the end of 2016.

Its methodology will be developed by the body alongside the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Public Health England in the first part of 2016. Details of what will be measured, and funded, will be evident in Sport England’s 2016 strategy.

The new survey will use a ‘postal to web’ system, with respondents contacted first by post and then asked to fill out a survey online to deliver a “more balanced sample of respondents” and “ensure accurate geographic coverage”.

Although its remit has been expanded to cover the physical activity of individuals over five, outside of school, Sport England’s funding will remain largely flat.

Over the next parliament (2015-2020) the body will receive £1.4bn (US$2.1bn, €1.9bn) in exchequer and National Lottery money, while in the last parliament its was given £1.47bn (US$2.2bn, €2bn).

Sport England will also be tasked with setting out targets for increased physical activity of underrepresented groups by 2016 with the view of seeing a “step-change” engagement by 2020 and then 2025.

As part of the plans, the government will focus more investment to ensure those people taking part in sport and physical activity below the average levels – such as women, the disabled, those from lower socioeconomic groups and the elderly – were not “slipping into inactivity”.

“We will, in the future, prioritise work done to engage those who do sport less than the population as a whole,” said the report. “We will make most progress by focussing on particular sections of society that face common barriers to taking part.”

Following the publication of last week’s Active People Survey, Sport England chief executive Jennie Price told Sports Management about the importance of targeting certain groups after the success of it This Girl Can campaign.

Additionally, Sport England will create a new coaching strategy which will revise entry level qualifications with an emphasis on behaviour and attitudes and focus “expanding the diversity” of the coaching pool.

Price said the strategy was “a really important milestone for grassroots sport in England”.

“We welcome the government’s increased focus on using sport for social good, and are very much looking forward to developing more programmes and campaigns that tackle head on the issues that stop so many people being active,” she added.

“Our priority now is to work with a range of partners to develop our plans to put this strategy into practice. I’m committed to improving the way people experience sport and physical activity in this country.”

To see the full Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation report, click here.

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