The School Sport Survey found that more disabled children in Wales do sport on a regular basis, an increase from 3 years ago. Children and teachers from schools across Wales took part in the research looking at sports participation, health and well-being.
The survey conducted by Sport Wales states that 45 % of pupils with a disability or impairment said they take part in sports activity more than three times a week. This sees a reduction in the equality gap between disabled children in non-SEN environments and non-disabled children to 3% with 48% of non-disabled children stating they are involved in regular sports activity. This reflects an increasingly inclusive approach to provision within the sport sector; and is a testament to the quality of collaborative and partnership working going on in Wales with other non-traditional sport partners.
In addition, this gap is reduced further when the SEN school data is included in to the participation 3 times a week figure of the survey with a difference of 1% with 47% of disabled children active 3 or more times a week. This figure reflects a consistency in direction of movement with Disability Sport Wales KPI’s which have increased year on year. In 2016 there were 1.45 million participation opportunities, and this rose to 1.75million in 2017. Data also suggested that higher numbers of disabled children who attend an SEN school participate more frequently in physical activity (including sport) than disabled children in a non-SEN environment.
Though the School Sports Survey figures does indicate successful engagement, it also highlights the areas where Disability Sport Wales and its partners need to continue to influence and support a change. The response rate for disabled children to this year’s survey was approximately 13% of disabled children in Wales so providing the survey in a greater range of formats is essential moving forwards; this will ensure that the numbers of disabled children provided the opportunity to have their say increases. Crucially DSW and partners need to better understand the detail of the data so that more of what works can be delivered, and further conversations happen with those who still are not physically active 3 or more times a week.
The picture is bright – the movement in the data is in absolutely the right direction, but we need to continue to challenge the sector and beyond to also get the overwhelming majority (53%) of disabled children are not currently participating in physical activity (including sport) more than 3 times a week active as well. We need to keep extending the network of partners and keep looking outside of sport – including Health, Play, and Education; and not just doing more of the same – diversifying the offer which will allow children who don’t like sport – or who don’t think it is for them – to find something which they would love to be involved with.
Fiona Reid, CEO of Disability Sport Wales said “We cannot afford to reduce the momentum with regards to inclusion – we should all pat ourselves on the back for the great work which we are doing, but there is a lot more to do to ensure that disabled children (young people and adults) get good quality access and choice for physical activity (including sport) within Wales. Innovative ways of involving people by stealth – based on what they want; projects like those delivered by the Get Out, Get Active programme – beach-combing in Pembrokeshire, Pickleball in RCT and Mindfulness and Yoga in Wrexham”.