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Y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon

Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

15/03/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Angela Burns AM
Caroline Jones AM
Dai Lloyd AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Dawn Bowden AM
Julie Morgan AM
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Anwen Griffiths Estyn
Estyn
Dr Ciaran Humphreys Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru
Public Health Wales
Dr Julie Bishop Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru
Public Health Wales
Jackie Gapper Estyn
Estyn
John Thomas Estyn
Estyn
Laura Matthews Women and Sport
Women and Sport

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Amy Clifton Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Claire Morris Clerc
Clerk
Philippa Watkins Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Tanwen Summers Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod am 10:13.

The public part of the meeting began at 10:13.

3. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
3. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Croeso i gyfarfod diweddaraf y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon, yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Croeso i Laura. Mwy am Laura yn y man. A gaf i estyn croeso hefyd i'm cyd-Aelodau? Ac, wrth gwrs, a gaf i egluro i bawb fod y cyfarfod yma, fel arfer, heddiw eto, yn ddwyieithog? Gellir defnyddio'r clustffonau i glywed cyfieithu ar y pryd o'r Gymraeg i'r Saesneg ar sianel 1, neu i glywed cyfraniadau yn yr iaith wreiddiol yn well ar sianel 2. Hefyd, dylid dilyn cyfarwyddiadau'r tywyswyr os bydd yna larwm tân yn canu, achos nid ydym yn disgwyl ymarferiad. Hefyd, nid oes angen cyffwrdd â'r meicroffonau o gwbl achos eu bod yn gweithio'n awtomatig.

Welcome to the latest meeting of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, here in the National Assembly for Wales. Welcome to Laura, and more from her soon. Can I extend a welcome to my fellow colleagues? And can I further explain that this meeting will be held bilingually? You can use the headphones to hear the interpretation from Welsh to English on channel 1, or to hear contributions in the original language amplified on channel 2. Also, you should follow the instructions of the ushers if a fire alarm sounds, because we do not expect a fire alarm test today. You don't need to touch the microphones at all because they work automatically.

4. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc - tystiolaeth gan Women in Sport
4. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people - evidence from Women in Sport

Trown ymlaen, felly, at eitem 4 ac ein ymchwiliad ni i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc—y sesiwn gyntaf y bore yma a'r dystiolaeth gan Women in Sport. Bydd Aelodau yn ymwybodol o'r cefndir. Dyma'r ail sesiwn dystiolaeth ffurfiol ar gyfer yr ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc. Yn ogystal, mae'r pwyllgor wedi ymweld ag Ysgol Basaleg i geisio barn pobl ifanc, cynnal grwpiau ffocws gyda rhanddeiliaid a chynnal gwe-sgwrs gyda phlant a phobl ifanc o ysgol uwchradd Ebbw Fawr, Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, Ysgol Uwchradd y Drenewydd, Prosiect Delwedd Iach, Ysgol Uwchradd y Frenhines Elisabeth, Coleg Caerdydd a'r Fro a fforwm ieuenctid Caerdydd a'r Fro. Felly, mae yna groestoriad eang o dystiolaeth eisoes wedi cyrraedd y pwyllgor ar y mater yma.

Ond, rŵan, mae'n bleser i groesawu Laura Matthews, uwch-reolwr gwybodaeth a pholisi, Women in Sport. Croeso, Laura. Rydym ni wedi darllen y dystiolaeth o'n blaenau, a gyda'ch caniatâd, awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynau. Mae'r cwestiwn cyntaf o dan ofal Caroline Jones. Caroline.

Turning to item 4, which is our inquiry into physical activity of children and young people, this is the first evidence session this morning, from Women in Sport. Members will be aware of the background. This is the second formal evidence session for the inquiry into physical activity of children and young people. In addition, the committee has visited Bassaleg School to seek the views of young people, held focus groups with stakeholders and conducted a webchat with children and young people from Ebbw Fawr high school, Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, Newtown High School, Healthy Image Project, Queen Elizabeth High School, Cardiff and Vale College and Cardiff and Vale area youth forum. So, there is a wide variety of evidence that has already reached the committee on this inquiry.

But, now, it's a pleasure to welcome Laura Matthews, who is the insight and policy manager for Women in Sport. Welcome, Laura. We have read the evidence in front of us and therefore, with your permission, we'll go straight into questions. The fist question is from Caroline Jones. Caroline.

10:15

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Good morning, Laura. In your 'Changing the game for girls' research, you highlight some of the factors contributing to the gender gap in physical activity participation: the fact that boys receive more encouragement from friends, the lack of media attention given to women's sport and the lack of female sporting role models in both the media and working in high levels of sport. So, can you talk us through, please, some of these points and explain why they contribute to the gender gap and how you think these issues can be addressed?

Sure, that's no problem. First of all, thank you very much for inviting me here. Women in Sport is an organisation, a charity, and we're very passionate about getting more women and girls active, so we're really pleased to be involved. 

Firstly, I would maybe talk you through that first point about the feeling that boys are much more encouraged to do sport than girls. I think from a very young age, girls are brought up to believe that they're not as good at sport, they're not as skillful at sport as boys are. They're very much brought up to think that sport is much more for boys. So, we did some research with children aged about seven to eight, with the Government Equalities Office, and that really explored those kinds of gender stereotypes that are really starting to form at that early age. The problem with that is that it then continues throughout their life, so unless they're really motivated and committed to sport, they're much more likely to then drop out once they hit other barriers along the way. So, I think that's a really big issue that we need to tackle from an early age.

I did some research recently where we talked to parents about getting boys and girls active, and they were very much talking about how boys need to burn off energy, and how they would encourage their sons to go out and play outside, whereas it was okay for their daughters to just sit inside. So, we really need to change that kind of discussion around how we encourage girls to actually also be active, and that's through parents, teachers, schools—we can all play a role in that.

So, in terms of how we solve that problem, that's quite a tricky one. There are some best-practice projects out there at the moment. The University of Newcastle in Australia has got a programme that's about getting dads and daughters active together and they actually train both the dads and the daughters in ways to be physically active, how they can encourage each other and how they can tackle those gender stereotypes together. And it really helps to make both the dads and the daughters much more active and then it has a knock-on effect on the wider family as well.

Yes, I think you're right there. My father was very active, he was in the Parachute Regiment, and I was always brought up to be robust in physical activity and became a physical education teacher. So, I think that that interaction with parents at an early age is quite important, really, to encourage you to go the whole way with sport. So, from my point of view, I was always out on a bike and so on, so I never saw any gender gap, if you like, regarding sport. To me, we were two girls and we were probably treated the same as any boys would be. Thank you.

Moving on, to develop this theme—Julie, you've got the next few questions.

Yes. I wanted to ask about gender stereotypes and how the situation arises, really, about what girls and women think about themselves and their abilities with their bodies. I think you say that this is already emerging at the age of seven to eight, and that the opportunity to influence is younger—it is before seven. So, could you tell us how these gender stereotypes could be counteracted at an early age?

Sure. It's very subtle with the gender stereotypes. It's phrases like 'You throw like a girl' that very much make girls aware from an early age that they're not as good as boys. And having that kind of thought in your mind really will put girls off from there from wanting to get involved in sport. They'll just assume, therefore, that sport is for boys.

I think it's also that, on tv, most sport that you see on TV is men; very little is of women, so— 

10:20

Do you think there are more women—? Recently, do you feel there have been more women shown?

There are increasing numbers of women's sports being shown, and we're actually carrying out a project at the minute that's measuring the amount of media coverage of women's sport. We'll be releasing the findings at a conference in October. So, I think that, while there have been some improvements, there's still a big difference between the amount of men's and women's sports shown. For example, when there are big events on, they get a lot of coverage—the world athletics championships, the Cricket World Cup, the Women's Rugby World Cup. They all got a lot of coverage. But then the kind of day-to-day women's sport is not shown. With football, there's a lot of men's football shown, but where is the women's football, which is also getting played? So, I think all of those kinds of things help to tell the story to girls that sport's not something for them. So, I do think it's something we need to change culturally as well as trying to target girls individually to get them active. We need them to see sport is for them and something that they can enjoy.

Can I just ask a supplementary on this? Sorry, Julie. What we do see now is a lot more women sports journalists fronting up the big football programmes on tv and so on and reporting back from games on Gillette Soccer Saturday on a Saturday afternoon and all that sort of thing. Have you got any evidence that that's made any difference to the attitude of girls to sport?

We did a bit of research called 'What Sways Women to Play Sport?', and that found that, although that all helps to kind of paint the picture, it's often that the girls are much more influenced by those people at the local level, so that would be their family members, their teachers—

So, the wider picture does help to encourage them and make them think it's possible, but the direct influence is much more local.

One of the things about the early gender stereotyping is the mass sport that seems to take place for boys, like on a Saturday morning and on Sunday morning. Wherever you go, you see playing fields filled with little boys, from what I can see, and I've been on the edges a lot myself. Is there anything like that that happens for girls on such a mass participation level as boys' football and boys' rugby?

Not to the same extent. I think that, partly, that is down to the fact that parents very much make the choices for children at a young age. So, how can we encourage parents to make those choices for their daughters? But I also think it's about having those facilities and activities available for girls. So, at the minute, girls can often—even if they're interested in playing, say, football or rugby—struggle to find a club that will take them, or they have to join the boys' team, which can often feel a bit uncomfortable. So, there just isn't that range of support that's open to boys at the moment.

Have you got any idea about how many mixed teams there are at—?

I don't know, but, in some sports, there's a requirement about having them single sex from a certain age, but, no, we don't have any numbers on those at the moment.

No. Then what about schools? How do you feel that boys and girls are treated in schools? Are they treated equally?

I've done quite a bit of research with schools through a programme that we work with the Youth Sport Trust on called 'Girls Active', and that's designed to get more girls active through schools. Through that research, it's quite clear that, often, girls are given very different choices from boys. So, boys get to play stereotypical football, rugby—. Girls, on the other hand, are given netball, hockey, trampolining. So, although they might enjoy those sports, they're not able to try a wider range of sports, and the girls do feel that they are missing out and that they want to try those sports that the boys can also play. So, I think that, in schools, we need to open up those choices for girls and not just limit them to ones that we think girls want to do and can do, because we know that girls can play football and can excel at it, so we need to give them the chance to do that.

This is the last question from me. It's sort of depressing to hear that one in three girls are unhappy with their body image by the time they're aged 14 to 16. So, do you think that it's that that contributes to them being less active in sport—because they are worried about their bodies?

10:25

So, we've actually just done a piece of research looking at the impact of puberty on girls, and physical activity, and that found that it does have a long-term effect on girls' involvement in sporting activity, but it's not necessarily the thing that will—they're already dropping off before that point. The most resilient girls and the most active girls will be able to push through those barriers, so it's the girls that are more influenced by puberty and feel less motivated by the sport that are more likely to drop out. So, definitely, puberty is a real big age when drop-out happens and lots of new barriers come up, and I think we can tackle them, but I do think the drop-off begins before that point.

Thank you. Can I just go back to the point you were making about girls not having access to a wider range of sports? You did talk in your evidence about co-creation with girls in designing programme activities that they would want to be involved in. How much of that actually goes on in schools, to your knowledge—that there's actually discussion with the boys and girls about what they would like to do, rather than what we think they would like to do?

So, the Girls Active programme very much promotes that. The teachers are trained in engaging girls in sports. So, they set up a group of girls as leaders, whose role it is to then engage with other girls within their school to ask them what they'd like to do. They're encouraged to get the girls to conduct surveys, so that's a really big part of that programme and it does work really well in bringing in a range of topics, as well as bringing that enthusiasm. I would say, generally, those activities tend to be focused on the after-school clubs, rather than being able to influence the school curriculum.

So, the girls are saying to you that they don't have the choice, are they? Is that typical of the response you get?

Yes. So, when I talk to girls, they generally say that they tell their teacher that they'd like to play football, say, and they're told, 'No, that's not part of what we offer here.' Some schools, or some girls, rather, have had success in standing up and saying what they would like, and their teachers have listened, but it's not really encouraged, I don't think, so much at schools, to have that kind of open discussion and dialogue about it.

And the mixed sports that you talk about, where girls want to join the football team, rugby club team or whatever, are generally outside of school, then—that's not generally happening in school.

So, it's generally not mixed, so they would set up a girls' football club, say, but it generally is connected to school. Once you get into the clubs outside of school, the girls will generally be much more motivated and considered the kind of more stereotypically sporty children who are then motivated to join the outside clubs. So, I think we need to start with that engagement in schools, to build that desire to be active that can then flow through to the clubs.

So, that brings me on to my next question, really, about teachers, and for teachers and coaches to be trained in engaging and empowering less active girls. If teachers were going to be doing that kind of training, what would that be like?

So, in the Girls Active programme with the Youth Sport Trust, the teachers are trained to think differently. Generally, PE teachers at school are people that have been very much—they're motivated by sport, they're probably the traditionally sporty people. So, it's about getting them to think about, 'How can I, as a person who loves sport, think about it in a different way and try and engage girls and boys who don't naturally think that way?' So, it's getting them to think about it in a different way. But I think it's also about schools recognising that there are wider benefits to being involved in sport and being active, and it's not just about thinking whether your school can win that competition, it's not just about focusing on those children that are really good at sports—

Exactly. It's about, 'We've got this other group of girls that we could engage in sport, what can we offer them that will make it seem fun to them?' Maybe it might be less competitive, it might be more games or things like Clubbercise that some of the Girls Active schools have introduced to kind of make sports seem more fun and less just focused on competition and winning.

Sure. And have you got any examples of where that approach is being taken in any of our schools in Wales?

Not in Wales. The Girls Active programme's only been running in England and Northern Ireland so far, and there's also a separate programme that runs in Scotland, but I'm not aware of one that's in Wales. 

10:30

Yn pigo i fyny ar hynny, a dweud y gwir, a ydych chi'n gwahaniaethu? Ymchwiliad ydy hwn i weithgarwch corfforol, nid i chwaraeon. Mae'r ddau, wrth gwrs, yn hanfodol pwysig. A ydych chi'n tynnu llinell ac yn gwahaniaethu rhwng hybu merched i wneud gweithgarwch corfforol ynteu a ydy chwaraeon y peth pwysicach?

Picking up on that point, really, do you differentiate? This is an inquiry into physical activity, not sport. Both are essential, of course, but do you draw a line and differentiate between encouraging girls to do physical activity, or is sport the only thing that's important?

No, physical activity is very important as well. Being active brings lots of health benefits. Sport does bring some benefits in terms of skills such as teamwork, learning how to lose, the confidence that comes from being part of a team. But physical activity is definitely a big focus for us, and it's often when you can engage girls a bit more, in that physical activity side, the fitness side. But I think we don't want to lose focus that—we also want to recognise that girls can benefit from playing sport as well, so I think we need to target both sides.

The reason I ask is that I think we've heard it discussed, during our inquiry, that maybe sport can put some people off. I'm into sport. I do some sports coaching, and the sport is really important. But it's actually getting young women active that's most important. Is there an off-putting element in sport? There shouldn't be, and I think you've made that clear. Girls and young women should feel that sport is equally for them, but can it be off-putting?

Yes, definitely, it can be off-putting. I think that traditionally the focus for sport is about winning, it's about competition, it's about being the best, and I think if you don't feel you're particularly good at sport, which a lot of girls don't, then they will be put off. They'll think, 'That's not for me. I can't succeed, therefore why will I try that?' Whereas physical activity sessions like Zumba, you're there on your own, it's just about how well you can do it yourself, and you're not having to worry about anybody else. So, there's less that fear of 'how will I come across?', that fear of judgment.

I do think we need to tackle, though, how can we get girls into sport, recognising that it is for them as well. Physical activity—we also don't want to stereotype girls into just doing physical activity. I think that tends to be the assumption, that that's what women and girls want to do, and it probably is where they naturally will go, because that's where they feel comfortable, and that's where all their images are—you know, Kim Kardashian is in the gym or at a class or doing yoga; these people on social media are not playing sport. So, how can we change that conversation to show that girls and women can play sport as well?

We could argue that sport is off-putting for boys as well who aren't interested in sport, but we just need to get them out of the house, and walking or whatever. Climbing trees—do they still do that? Probably not.

Who are the best—

I was just going to follow up on that particular point, because I know you're from Women in Sport, but I think Rhun's point there is actually a really good one. There are lots of boys that don't like sport. They're not competitive, they're not particularly good at team sports, and they don't have any other choices either, do they, in terms of doing some physical activity that doesn't involve being part of a team, being involved in team sports. So, it's equally valid, particularly for very young boys, I would suggest.

I think it's more just about that gender gap: why is there that difference between boys and girls in terms of activity levels? You're right, there will be some boys that are turned off sport as well, and probably some of the things you can introduce to engage girls will also help to engage boys. It's about recognising that not everybody is that sporty person and really driven—how can we repackage sport to be more attractive to them?

And it's about stereotyping, isn't it? Who are the best, which are the best, countries to follow? Who does this best? You must have studied and looked enviously at some other countries and the way they either engage young people in general in sport, or engage young women in particular. Who should we look to?

I think Scandinavia has some of the higher rates of women's participation. There's less of a gap. But they also have a very strong culture of being active, being physically active, as a whole population.

That to me is a crucial point. I think that's what we're trying to—it's culture change that we're trying to drive. I think it's interesting that you immediately go there: it's about the culture of young women being physically active. Can we look at it from a UK perspective or in Wales? Do you think you can drive culture change? 

10:35

Absolutely, and I think it is changing. I think very much it was that sport was seen as a boy's thing, and it is slowly changing. We are seeing women's football teams, women's rugby teams. They are getting much more coverage. We are seeing women succeed in the athletics, in the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics. So, I think we're helping show that women can achieve and can be excellent at sport, which then has a trickle-down effect, but we also need to tackle that from the ground up and make sure that the people who are influencing our children are also tackling those stereotypes at that younger age as well, and that's the parents and the teachers. So, I think it's kind of both ends. I think it is slowly changing, but I think we could do more about it.  

The ones we're trying to influence directly, of course, to drive that cultural change, hopefully, is Welsh Government. We as a committee will want to be making a series of recommendations to Government on how to balance out participation between boys and girls, on how to get more young people physically active, and how to start driving real cultural change. What do you think governments in general, or Welsh Government specifically, can do? What should they be targeting most?  

I think there are lots of examples of best practice out there. For example, we've just started a project with another charity called Sported that's aimed at how we can teach and engage the clubs to better support the girls within their clubs. 

The project's called Project 51, and it's with ourselves and another charity called Sported. We're funded by Comic Relief for that project. So, we are training the staff in clubs on how to engage girls through their clubs, but we're also talking to them about how they can tackle the stereotypes within their clubs so that those subtle decisions about what sports they're offering the girls, what expectations they've got around the girls' abilities—how to challenge those thoughts themselves to then reach that wider range of girls. We're hoping to expand that to other clubs.  

Do you think that is something that could be rolled out nationally? Only a Government could roll something out nationally, I guess. 

Definitely. I think it's got scalability, because it's about passing on the training through the clubs through a structure where they're training themselves through a 'train the trainer' situation. So, it doesn't rely on us as an organisation having to visit every club. So, it is quite sustainable in that way. There are other projects. There's an Australian university project. That's a great example that we're hopeful of trying to bring over to the UK to test it in the UK environment, about how can we engage the dads and daughters together to tackle those stereotypes. So, I think there are lots of examples like those projects that we can test out here.    

Could you pass us as a committee more information on that Australian model as well? That might be useful, because we're very keen to look for those examples of best practice. We've found best practice here in Wales—the Bassaleg comprehensive school was hugely impressive. It was very, very impressive, but it's what Government can do with, let's be frank, limited resources to spread that best practice around Wales. 

I do think one way could be through targeting teachers through their training, so that we're getting them at an early stage in their career to then spread the word once they're in the schools, so that they're much more aware of how to engage girls—a range of girls, not just the sporty girls—in sport, and giving them the tools to really do that well. 

What about time spent with girls? Again, this would be true for boys as well, but what about the time spent on physical activity within the school day, for example? Is that something where you'd like to see change, ideally, as difficult as it might be?  

Ideally, yes. I think we'd like it to see it seen as more of a priority. I think at the minute it's dismissed as, well, the first thing that you can knock off the list, because it's not as important as being academically good whereas, actually, the research shows that if you excel in sport or if you are physically active then it can really help with your academic career as well. So, I think we do need to prioritise sport much more. There is a limit, though, to how much you can fit into a school day, so I think we need to think about how can we join up the clubs as well, and other wider activities, to really kind of pull girls through from the schools into the wider clubs. So, a bit like what I was saying about Project 51—can we train those clubs to engage the girls that they might not necessarily attract, so the ones that wouldn't necessarily think, 'Oh, I'm a really good football player; I'm going to join a football club'? It's more that they can see, 'This football club is really fun, it's not necessarily about excelling in the team; I know I'll have fun if I go along to this club.' So, how can we make clubs slightly change their offer, or give different offers to different girls?

So, for example, British Gymnastics have been introducing different schemes that target different girls. So, they've brought in a whole programme that's about teamwork. Some of the girls don't like the focus being all on them—because a lot of gymnastics is about being about an individual—so they've brought in a teamwork programme. There's one that's less about competition and more about having fun. So, I think the sports can introduce these other, alternative offers to really bring in girls and make that offer seem more appealing. 

10:40

And it works. We've got examples in Wales. We have Ray Williams, who was in with us giving evidence some weeks ago. We wish him well; he's out in the southern hemisphere now. He's the Wales weightlifting coach, and the proportion of women that train in his gym in Holyhead is hugely impressive. If we can replicate that in other parts of Wales, we're getting there. 

If there was something that could be done, one thing that could be done today, just the one thing, what would it be? We're really focusing on priorities here. 

I think probably getting girls involved in designing solutions for them. I think they know what they want and what will engage them. So, I think if you can ensure that they're involved in these discussions and decisions then that will really help to make sure that whatever solution is brought up with will really appeal to them. 

And can we get around this shortage of funds, because we'd love to invest in brand new sporting facilities in every town and village the length and breadth of Wales. It's not going to happen on that kind of scale. Can you still make a big difference without that infrastructure?

Yes, because I don't think it's necessarily all about infrastructure. It's about the culture and the way you offer sessions, the way the coaches engage the girls. It's not necessarily about what kind of pitch they're playing on; it's about those people—are they offering an engaging session that the girls want to come along to?

We've talked about schools and teachers. Have you got any information about whether governing bodies get involved in these sort of debates and discussions at all, because obviously a strong steer from a governing body can be quite powerful? Do we have any knowledge or evidence about that?

Quite a lot of the governing bodies are getting involved and engaging more girls, and coming up with offers, like I was saying about British Gymnastics offering different kinds of things to attract those girls that aren't necessarily the naturally sporty ones. So, there are lots of different schemes out there. The Football Association, for example, also runs—

I was thinking of the governing bodies of the schools. 

Oh, right, okay. [Laughter.]

They have got parent representatives and people with particular skills there, and it just seems to me that it would be really good if those organisations would get involved in promoting girls' activity. 

Sure. So, when I've gone to visit schools, particularly around the Girls Active project, one of the main things they bring up is the fact that the PE teacher leading on the project is very much left on their own to get on with it. It's not a whole-school priority. It's very much seen as a PE department thing to deal with. So, I think if we can get the whole school behind it—. And there are some schools that are very much behind sport and really push it and promote it, and they're fantastic, but a lot of the schools aren't; they don't see sport as their priority. So, the PE department are very much on their own about how important this area is. 

And, in terms of activity, you do have some of the schools that do the run in the morning, the mile, which, presumably, is a whole-school activity. Is there much evidence that more and more things like that are happening?

10:45

I think it is available at some schools. I don't think all schools prioritise that. Again, it's down to what does the school prioritise.

Yes, and how much influence does that PE teacher have or how well are they able to sell that idea to the wider school. Or maybe it's the PE teacher taking on that, organising that run in their own time. I think a lot of it does come down to that—the PE teachers coming in in the morning and staying late at night to be able to offer those options for girls.

I think it does depend very much on individual schools, in terms of sporting excellence, because you do have schools that achieve. In Cardiff North, we've got Whitchurch High School, where we had Gareth Bale and Sam Warburton—lots and lots of mainly boys, but there are some girls as well. It just seems to me that it does depend on having a particular person at a school to encourage things. So, what would be really good, I suppose—would you agree, I think following Rhun's questions, really, that there ought to be a drive from Welsh Government to do even more in terms of trying to make girls more active in schools?

Yes, absolutely, I would agree with that. I think it's about making the schools recognise that girls' sport is as important as boys' sport, and getting girls and boys active is equally important. So, absolutely, I would agree that that should be a priority.

Reit, dyna ddiwedd y cwestiynau. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am eich presenoldeb y bore yma. Diolch yn fawr hefyd am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig ymlaen llaw. A gaf i bellach gyhoeddi y byddwch chi'n derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau yma er mwyn i chi wirio ei fod i gyd yn ffeithiol gywir? Ond, gyda hynny o ragymadrodd, a gaf i ddiolch i chi unwaith eto am eich presenoldeb? Gallaf i gyhoeddi i fy nghyd-Aelodau y cawn ni egwyl byr rŵan—yn ôl am 11:00 i'r sesiwn nesaf. Diolch yn fawr.

Okay, that's the end of the questioning. Thank you very much for your presence this morning. Thank you very much also for the written evidence that you sent beforehand. Can I further announce that you will receive a transcript of these discussions so that you can check them for factual accuracy? But, with that much of an introduction, can I thank you again for your presence? I can announce to my fellow Members that we will take a short break now and we'll be back by 11:00 for the next session. Thank you very much.

11:00

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:47 ac 11:01.

The meeting adjourned between 10:47 and 11:01.

5. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc - tystiolaeth gan Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru
5. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people - evidence from Public Health Wales

Croeso'n ôl i bawb i'r adran ddiweddaraf yma o gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Rydym ni wedi symud ymlaen i eitem 5 rŵan, a pharhad efo'n hymchwiliad i weithgaredd corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc. O'n blaenau yma fe fyddwn ni'n cael tystiolaeth gan Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru. Felly, croeso i'r ddau ohonoch chi—yn gyntaf, Dr Julie Bishop, cyfarwyddwr gwella iechyd, Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru, a hefyd Dr Ciaran Humphreys, cyfarwyddwr gwybodaeth iechyd, Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru. Croeso i'r ddau ohonoch chi. Rydym ni wedi derbyn y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig ymlaen llaw, a diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am hynny. Awn ni'n syth i mewn, gyda'ch caniatâd, i gwestiynau oddi wrth Aelodau, ac mae Caroline Jones yn mynd i gychwyn. 

Welcome back everyone to the latest part of this meeting of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee here in the National Assembly for Wales. We have moved on to item 5 now, which is a continuation of our inquiry into physical activity of children and young people. Before us we will have evidence from Public Health Wales. So, welcome to both of you—first of all, Dr Julie Bishop, who is the director of health improvement, Public Health Wales, and also Dr Ciaran Humphreys, who is the director of health intelligence, Public Health Wales. Welcome to both of you. We have received the written evidence beforehand, and thank you very much for that. We'll go straight in, with your permission, to questions from Members, and Caroline Jones will start.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. In your written evidence, you highlight a widening gap in active travel to and from school, and you say that you've identified this as a priority for further research. I'm just wondering if you could you tell us more about this and any forthcoming work that you've planned on this issue?

I'll just start by highlighting some of the gender gaps that are there. I think we did particularly highlight the active travel to school. This comes from the health behaviour among school-aged children research, which is an international study you're probably familiar with. I think what you see when you look at that data is that the children who walk or cycle to school as the main way they get to school—it starts off about the same in boys and girls. So, about one in three boys and girls in years 7, 8 and 9 travel actively to school. In years 10 and 11, you start to see quite a divergence coming up. So, the proportion of girls drops to 28 per cent, and that continues in year 11. Whereas, in years 10 and 11, the proportion of boys' active travelling is increasing. So, it goes up to 34 per cent and then 38 per cent. So, you see quite a wide divergence towards those later years in school. I think this follows a pattern you can see, really, throughout physical activity, throughout the age groups. So, just to flag up, in the Welsh health survey, there's quite a big gap in the proportion who report being physically active. Boys were more active than girls. And, as we go up through the years in the Welsh health survey, that gap widens.

So, what do you think are the contributing factors to that divergence, then?

I think there are a number of different things. Part of it is what Ciaran has already indicated in terms of the age change. What you tend to see is it relates to where the activity comes from. So, our physical activity tends to come from one of four places: there's the kind of things we do on a day-to-day basis, just in day-to-day life; there's active travel; there's active recreation; and then there's sport. In very young children, play is a huge component of that, and that starts to drop off around the transition to secondary school, which is in line with the kind of ages that Ciaran was talking about.

What happens in boys, we tend to see, is that sport replaces that; it doesn't in girls. So, that's where you start to really see the gender gap happening. So, things like active travel are even more important for girls, potentially, than they are for boys. But what you also see there is things like safety coming into play. So, we know that parents' perceptions of risk, even if it's not actual risk, is one of the big barriers to why they don't allow children and young people—

11:05

—absolutely—their own children, to walk to school. And I think it's probably not unreasonable to assume that, particularly for girls, as they get older, they're probably more anxious about the girls than boys.

So, in terms of what we're doing about it—I think you asked that question—active travel to school has been a priority that we've picked up in the last 12 to 18 months, and we've brought all of the agencies working on the issue across Wales, under the auspices of the active travel board, together. Because one of the things we picked up was that lots of people are doing things, but they're all doing it on their own, and they're not talking to one another about it. So, we wanted to try and make sure that we had a clear understanding about where those barriers are.

We've spent a little bit of time, as we've been talking about, looking at the literature and the data, but what we're also trying to do is to support schools in making it an issue. So, we've got the healthy school scheme, which we lead on an all-Wales basis. We've been looking at the criteria for the national quality award, which is a Welsh Government award that schools attain. At the moment, it actually doesn't require schools to do anything on active travel, so we're looking at—if we put that in as a criteria, there's an ask.

We're also piloting and developing some work that's been done in Scotland around an active travel survey in primary schools, which is, basically, children put their hands up and say how do they normally get to school. And the idea is that schools use that data, plus the secondary schools have got data from the school health research survey, which nearly all of them are now involved in, and we can start to ask them to put plans in place to actually do something about that, and that's going to be different in every single school.

If you're a rural school, the opportunities are going to be very, very different to an urban school here in Cardiff. But it's about starting that conversation at the school level and involving the community around the school, the parents, and also the other agencies like Living Streets and Sustrans and all of those bodies that are actively there to support schools, but we're not making the best of at the moment.

Yes, and realising one size doesn't fit all, as you said.

Absolutely, yes.

Angela, you've got a supplementary here—sorry, Caroline—before we move on.

I just wanted to ask for quick clarification, Ciaran. When you said that—I think I heard you say that as they get older to, like, 11, the girls' numbers drop off as a percentage but the boys increase. So, I just wanted to know if that was also true in absolute numbers, or do the girls merely drop as a percentage because the boys increase?

Yes. So, we're talking about the—. I referred to both the physical activity levels and the walking and active transport.

So, it's the active transport you're interested in. So, looking at that in absolute terms, the girls drop from about 33 per cent to 28 per cent, whereas in absolute terms the boys increase from about 33 per cent to 38 per cent, so you end up with a 10 percentage point gap between 28 per cent and 38 per cent at year 11 for active transport, from them starting at the same level. 

You were fairly critical about the effectiveness of previous Welsh Government policies in this field, and agree with the conclusion that policy has not resulted in an increase in physical activity for Wales for the past 10 years. So, what do you think has gone wrong in this area? In your view, why have previous policies failed? How can we ensure that future efforts have the impact that we desire, and have a positive impact overall?

I think probably the first thing I would say is I don't think we're critical of the policy as such, because I think, actually, the policy is generally good. The policy follows all of the international evidence. So, our feeling, I think, is it's about the way we implement policy that maybe needs a little extra work. So, our ambition is to do the right thing, but maybe when we start to put it into practice, we're not actually either having the impact at the scale that's required—and I think probably Ciaran might want to say something about evaluation, in the sense that we sometimes actually don't do the evaluation very well, and that means that we can't always work out what's making a difference and what isn't.

Right, I see. So, there are no clear defining issues that you can raise to have a more positive impact.

I've just come from the committee—the economy and infrastructure committee—about the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. That's a really good example that's relevant to what we're talking about here, and there's no question that that is a very, very important piece of legislation and it's absolutely in the right space, but we're not quite yet getting to where we want to be, as we've been talking about. So, it's us looking really carefully at how we're actually going about doing it.

11:10

Well, nothing really major to add except to say that evaluation is key, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of resource, and if we're planning to implement, we need to plan for evaluation from the very start.

In your role in assisting others to carry out health impact assessments under the public health Act, in what ways do you anticipate that this will help to improve physical activity levels? 

The health impact assessment—well, I mean, it is a massive opportunity. So, the requirement for health impact assessments in Wales—. I think that what we don't know yet is the detail, so we're not clear—the regulations haven't come out—on what decisions they will relate to, but in terms of the environment that affects people's choices every day, both choices of parents and choices of children, that's where health impact assessments can hopefully be a real opportunity for planners and others to stand back and say, 'How will this change?' I'm thinking of making an impact on physical activity: how can that give people what they need? I think, certainly, active travel is obviously a really key area of that, making the environment much easier to travel without using a car—using your feet, using bicycles, using public transport. It is one of the major areas, I think—

Yes, and it is working in the early years. It's just after that that we've got to stimulate the active travel for—[Inaudible.]

That's right—safe routes to school.

Yes, absolutely. I mean, one of the advantages of a health impact assessment is it can help you think through where the unintended consequences of policy might be. So, very often we'll do something in order to tackle one issue, but there's a knock-on effect that we haven't anticipated on something else, and what HIA helps you do is think through in advance what that might be. So, I think we had quite a good example in the last couple of weeks about a suggestion, I think, around using bus lanes for lorries to ease congestion. That's a good example of something that might benefit from a health impact assessment, so that you can think through whether or not there might be negative consequences from doing that on things like people's safety on bicycles, which also use those lanes. That's just an example.

Ocê. Diolch, Caroline. Mae'r cwestiynau nesaf dan ofal Dawn. 

Okay. Thank you, Caroline. The next questions are from Dawn.

You seem to be saying that the Welsh network of healthy school schemes looks to be the positive way forward. Can you perhaps just tell us a bit more about that and why you think that that is particularly effective?

If you look at the international evidence base and what generally is advocated for promoting physical activity in children and young people by the World Health Organization and by a number of other countries, what you'll see is they talk a lot about what are called 'whole-school approaches' and that basically means that we recognise that, particularly for children, they spend, not all of their time but a significant proportion of their time in school, and what the school does in terms of its environment, its policies, what they teach in the curriculum, and the kind of relationships that the school has with other services all has an impact on health and well-being, including physical activity.

So, the healthy schools scheme in Wales is an example of a whole-school approach, and we're recognised internationally as having one of the most successful schemes in terms of the level of participation, so we've got a platform, if you like, that helps schools to look at a range of health issues, including the ones that we're talking about here today. What I think is the challenge that we're grappling with at the moment as an organisation is to make sure, as we'd already indicated, that the things we're encouraging schools to do are the things that are going to make the biggest difference, that we're gathering the kind of data that means that we can show that the progress is in the right direction—and that's not been as strong as it could be up until now—but also that we use that as a vehicle to bolt in these other programmes. So, from a schools point of view, it's really difficult, actually, if you've got all sorts of well-intentioned organisations trying to get your attention on a whole range of different things. You know, they're being bombarded from all sides, really, and if you use the vehicle of something like healthy schools, which is very broad, it's a way of helping other schemes to actually connect with schools around health and well-being, so it maximises the potential of the whole system. 

11:15

How do we build on the healthy schools scheme, then? As a parent, I've been very aware of healthy schools scheme stuff going on—

That's good. [Laughter.]

—and that there's an awareness of it, but here we are holding an inquiry into why our young people aren't more physically active, despite having been exposed to a hugely successful, exemplar healthy schools scheme. Why hasn't it bridged from just raising general awareness about health among young people to actually driving changes in the way they live their lives?

I think we have to be realistic in our expectations, in the sense that the healthy schools scheme looks at a whole range of health issues, not just one. So, schools may have chosen to focus on different issues. I think that you're right in saying that, and I think that, in essence, what I've just said is that we're looking at that question as well. All of the international evidence tells us that we are doing the right sorts of—that the intention is right. We've been looking at an international review of the evidence just recently for the obesity strategy. When you look at the countries that appear to be making a difference at the moment, where there are positive signs of change, they are doing exactly what we're doing in terms of healthy schools.

Well, that's the question I'm asking. So, where I've been looking at what we're doing, I think that, if I am honest, I think what's happened is that we have turned it into a process and we've lost sight of the outcome—

So, we've asked schools to do things on physical activity, but we haven't actually asked them to measure whether or not that makes a difference. So, it's back to our earlier comment on evaluation. So, we've got something that's an enormous platform to build on, and we need to make more use of it. As you know, I'm sure, we're increasing our partnership working with Sport Wales and Natural Resources Wales on physical activity at the moment, and one of the conversations we've been having with Sport Wales in particular is: they're doing stuff in schools—a whole range of programmes—and we're doing stuff in schools through healthy schools over here and sometimes it joins up on the ground and sometimes it doesn't. So, one of the things we've got to do is actually be a bit more purposeful in terms of saying, 'These two things are actually part of a joint offer to schools on this agenda, and how do we make more of it?'

Joining up—I mean, I think that we, as a committee, see very much our work on this as tied in with the obesity strategy that came from discussions in this group. What recommendations from us as a committee on physical activity would be useful in strengthening the obesity strategy?

I think, probably—and Ciaran may have some thoughts on this—physical activity is particularly relevant around prevention. So, once you've got a problem—. I mean, food is the thing that is the biggest driver of obesity, at the end of the day. But if you're active, then you're much mess likely to become overweight. So, the emphasis on that, particularly featuring in those groups of the population that start at a healthy weight, which I think you sort of hinted at earlier, and trying to keep people a healthy weight, is particularly important. So, where we see the big shifts in rising levels of obesity are from the time children finish school—the 16 to 24 age group. As they move into the next decade, there's a really big fall off in terms of their healthy weight, and if you think about that time in people's lives, they're typically entering the workplace, there's a big period of transition—they may have left home and gone away to university. So, it's about what we can do from a physical activity perspective at a policy level that actually supports young people in maintaining the physical activity levels through school that we've already talked about—so that's one objective; we've got to stop that tail-off—but then, once they leave school, that they can maintain those behaviours and that they're supported to do so in that critical period.

Right, go on. I've got Angela as well and then Dawn.

You mentioned the other countries that seem to be doing well. Which countries are they, and is it possible that there's sort of a cultural difference between us and those countries that's the big driver?

What we found is that there isn't anybody who's turned the problem around. So, the countries that are like us and have seen this growing level in obesity over a period of time—nobody's reversed that decline, so we can't point to any international evidence where that's been turned around. There are some examples where there seems to be promise. There's certainly lots of interest in what's been going on in Amsterdam—it's a place that's been picked up—and there are some examples in Finland, particularly. And there are some US states that have stopped the rise, and just about started their decline. So—

11:20

By co-ordinated action in a similar way to us. But you're also right to say that, if you look at where, internationally, obesity rates and physical activity rates are traditionally optimal—places like Japan are very, very different in terms of cultural norm.

I just wanted to go back to the healthy eating Measure and the healthy eating programme, which I'm a great fan of, and I think it's excellent, particularly the mental health element and building robust children. But why—as I think Dawn asked—don't we have kids, then, who are able to be far fitter, despite the fact that we have this healthy eating programme and it's an exemplar in all our schools? But one of the things that does slightly worry me is people—. We seem to be putting an awful lot of onus on the children, and the children within the school settings, but, of course, they then go home. If you go home and your parent gives you rubbishy food or doesn't have very much money, can't take you out, or you can't be driven back in to join this football club, or whatever, you're not going to be able to carry that through. I just wondered if you had any view on that, because I worry that we keep saying, 'It's all about the kids', 'It's about the kids', 'It's about the kids', but they're only a tiny bit of that jigsaw, aren't they? Because they're not empowered, you know—

No, no, absolutely.

A lot of them are 10 or 11-year-olds. They're not going to get into a car and drive themselves off somewhere, are they?

There's a lot in that question. That was quite complex. Ciaran might say something about inequalities, I suspect, in the data, in a minute. One of the advantages of a healthy schools model is that what it seeks to do is change the environment in which the children are. So, in essence, the healthy choices become either automatic choices or they're there. So, it's not about focusing on them. It's actually creating an environment for them, which gives them the best opportunity to be healthy. But you're absolutely right: children don't spend all of their time in school, and we recognise that whether it's physical activity or whether it's food choices, the home and family environment are very big players. So, we have to see ways in which we can also work with parents as key players in that sense. But we also need to remember that parents all want the best for their children. So, no parent is actively making decisions with the intention of not doing something positive. They've got all sorts of barriers—

Absolutely, yes. I think some of the data shows that not only do we see gender differences, but we see differences between socioeconomic groups.

Public Health Wales is looking at its strategy, whilst really focusing on a major drive for us, looking forward at what we're calling the wider determinants of health, so those factors like levels of education, finance, opportunities, which really change what parents and families can do in their lives. Michael Marmot calls them the causes of the causes—they are the things that drive ill health in our society. In a way, physical activity and eating is just a kind of a mediator along the path to ill health from the —[Inaudible.]—in our society, and, obviously, poverty is a massive issue in Wales. Child poverty is an enormous issue in Wales.

Something interesting is that if you look at the child measurement programme, where we look at the weight of children at reception year, in terms of the levels of obesity, in the least deprived group, about 8 to 9 per cent of children are already obese—in the least deprived groups at age 4 or 5. In the most deprived groups, they're at 13 per cent to 14 per cent. So, we're seeing, even at age 4 or 5, a massive difference in a basic outcome like that—the basic level of obesity—these are the wider drivers of deprivation in our society.

You mentioned that, actually, the calorific intake can be a much bigger driver than physical activity. Something looking at the health behaviour in school-aged children survey is that affluent families—the affluence scale they use—. It isn't massively different in terms of physical activity in teenagers. So, we're not seeing an enormous difference driven by deprivation in teenagers in Wales in terms of physical activity, but it certainly does drive a lot of the other factors that will affect both obesity and their overall level of health.

Okay. Julie, you've got a supplementary, before we go back to Dawn.

11:25

I was just thinking that the school provides healthy foods, parents want to do their best for the children and a lot of parents do provide healthy food at home, but it seems to me that the children's greatest joy is to go to McDonald's and have burgers and that seems to be what is their measure of what good food is. So, how do we get over that, because it does seem to be fairly universal, at least in my experience, that that's what children want and think that that's the sort of food to have?

We're talking about food. It's a complex issue to challenge, because it plays such a big part in our lives. It's part of our celebrations. We don't just eat because we need the nutrition to live. We eat for a whole range of reasons, and, unfortunately, we become conditioned at quite a young age to enjoying particular tastes and flavours, and every one of us recognises that. So, it takes quite a strong parent to actually overcome some of those drivers, which is advertising on the television, it's availability, it's perceived value and benefit from different sorts of things. 

So, one of the things that we need to look at in the context of our—. It's why getting it right at school is important, because, for many children, we know that modelling is important. We know that modelling of behaviour both by parents and in school is actually really important. I went to visit a nursery school earlier last summer in our healthy pre-school scheme, and the head of that, in a Flying Start area, was saying to me that the parents all say that their children won't eat fruit and they won't only have water. But, she said, 'When they're here, every single one of them will quite happily have water and they all eat their fruit.' And that's because everybody else is doing it.

So, there are things that we can do where we're really strong on policy and probably around our nutritional standards in schools, for example. And it's the same with physical activity, where a little bit more compulsion, actually, is really important to help children and young people in particular understand what options are out there and expose them to as many tastes and opportunities as possible, whether that's the opportunity to find out what they're thing is in physical activity, because everybody doesn't want to be a football player and everybody doesn't want to play hockey or whatever, but there is a whole range of things, and schools should be the place where we help young people understand the thing that they really enjoy, and become involved in that and good at it and get the benefit from being involved.

To what extent should school be used to do that? I mean, I think a number of us, me included, are supportive of the principle of extending the school day in order to build substantial time in for physical activity. I think we're also aware that it's easier said than done. Having said that, the school day has been extended in recent years in order to accommodate breakfast club, so it can happen. Should the education system be used as a tool to that extent—you know, extend it and make it a bigger part of people's lives?

Well, the Donaldson review set healthy and confident individuals as being one of the four purposes of the curriculum, and schools. So, I think we've already taken a policy statement in terms of the acceptance of that recommendation by Government that that should be part of the purpose of the curriculum.

We've also got very good evidence that, actually, healthy children learn better. So, in terms of some of those wider determinants that Ciaran was talking about, at the end of the day, children achieving their potential educationally is a good health strategy, but you need healthy children in order for them to do that. So, these things are all interrelated with one another. 

One of the things, probably, even before we think about extending the school day is actually to look at some of the changes that are already happening. So, there's growing evidence about the shortening of school break times and that having a direct impact on physical activity levels, and we've got research in Welsh data that seems to suggest that that's the case. So, what's actually happening, to some extent, is that we're shortening the school day in some areas, or at least parts of it.

Yes. Children are out at 3 o'clock, aren't they? That wasn't the case when I was at school. It was—

Yes, or, certainly, 4 o'clock, even—I remember 4 o'clock. So, I think there is something about, actually, 'Have we gone the wrong way?' Certainly, school breaks is a challenge for two reasons: children don't get time to be active at lunch time, and half the time they don't get chance to have a healthy school meal either.

So, actually, making a recommnedation on extending the school day, without saying how much it is, wouldn't be a—

No. There would be very good evidence to support the value of that.

11:30

Because, as I say, we like the idea. I think it's universal. But I'd forgotten that there was an issue of the day having been shortened already. Half past three was, in my day, the time that school finished, and now it's 3.20 p.m., 3.15 p.m.—

I've got three children at primary school, one of them finishes at 3.30 p.m., the other 3.15 p.m., but, certainly, our experience is that when there are things like school concerts to be prepared for, or eisteddfods, physical activity is what tends to fall by the wayside. But that's anecdotal.

And that's understandable, in many ways, because lessons also fall by the wayside.

I was just going to say, recognising that it isn't just physical activity, if we're thinking about children's well-being in the broader sense, some of those cultural activities are very valuable as well—

Yes, quite a lot of them. So, I think there is something about the value of those things and, if you build them into the school day, that there is probably some evidence to suggest that parents might value that as well, because, actually, it's a consistent process whereby children have after-school activities, if you like, embedded, rather than this more optional thing, which is that sometimes they're late, sometimes they're early. That makes childcare more complex, it makes bus transport more complex and all of those kinds of things. So, it's probably something that merits a health impact assessment.

Okay. Dawn—sorry, Julie. [Laughter.] Dawn's been very patient, she's had about 20 supplementaries—

Oh no, go on. I was going to go on to these last questions.

I think a lot of what I was going to ask has been covered, because I was going to talk about parent involvement and how we can encourage parents to encourage their children to be more active, but it's difficult if they're not themselves active, isn't it? So, just following on from the points that Angela and others are raising about food, just as an aside, my son moved out recently, he's got his own place now, and he was over for lunch at the weekend, and I noticed he'd put on quite a bit of weight, and he said, 'Well, mum, the thing is, money's tight, and the unhealthiest and tastiest food is the cheapest.' When you were talking earlier on about obesity levels in areas of deprivation, and how that's not linked to physical activity, because it doesn't make much difference in terms of whether you are in an affluent area or a deprived area as to the level of activity you do, but what you eat does. So, that's something that just triggered in my mind when he said that that the tastiest and unhealthinest stuff is the cheapest.

Because it's probably not—. You can make a soup—I'm into soups at the moment; I thought I'd share that with you—and it costs nothing.

It is the age range and all of that. But it was about how—it's this chicken and egg, because—

Chickens and eggs, yes. Cyw iâr. [Laughter.]

But this whole thing about—if we are going to encourage children to be more active, that isn't going to be done in isolation, in the same way as encouraging them to eat more healthily isn't going to be done in isolation, because it's got to involve the whole family. So, have you got any thoughts in terms of—we've talked about the food aspect—how we can encourage parents to be the role models for activity in children?

It's interesting, actually, because when I was looking at the literature around this, it's quite inconclusive about whether or not having an active parent leads to more active children, interestingly, because common sense makes you think it should, so it's probably something that we might need to explore in a little bit more detail.

I think one of the challenges we've got as a society as a whole is that being active is no longer normal. So, we have a lifestyle, many of us, where we get up, we get in our cars or similar, we go to work, we sit in an office all day, we go home from work in our cars, we sit on the sofa watching tv or doing something with a computer, or whatever, and we go to bed. So, there is a really powerful driver at the moment for sedentary behaviour, and that cultural shift is something we probably need to actively tackle through a range of different measures. Some of that is just actually—. There is starting, I think, to be an awareness amongst parents in particular, actually, that their children are not active, partly because they spend their lives in their phones, particularly the older children that have got electronic devices, and that promotes sedentary behaviour very often. They're not playing outdoors in the way that would have happened with children of previous generations, and that takes us back to the safety angle.

So, there are some really complex interrelated things going on, but we're probably not having a conversation, if you like, at a societal level about the fact that, actually, we're becoming dangerously inactive. Those sorts of conversations are at a community level, at a family level, at a government level, about, 'What are the different things that we need to do in order to raise the profile of activity?' We were just saying that to the other committee, about the fact that, even as public health professionals, it's probably fair to say that it's the issue that's had least priority, of the big drivers of ill health. We've focused on smoking, and we've focused on food to a degree, and alcohol gets attention, but physical activity is only now, really, rising up the profile, and that's partly because we're actually seeing not just that we are inactive—I think, at least a third of adults are inactive; they're genuinely sedentary—but also that we can see that all of the drivers for change, increasing use of technology, all of those kinds of things, are inevitably pushing us in a different direction, so that the horizon isn't good, really, unless we actually start to take some active steps.

11:35

Which goes back to the cultural point, doesn't it? It's about changing the culture of how we live our lives, really.

Yes. And so, whilst I don't want to put all the onus on schools, sometimes schools can act—particularly primary schools, interestingly, because parents tend to engage much more with primary sector schools. They can actually support parents in starting to look at some of these issues and tackle them collectively.

Just imagine the strength of the message pushing culture change if we were doing something around the length of the school day, for example. People would know that it's about physical activity, that's why it's happening, and it would be a part of families' lives, 'The school day is longer, because we need to be more active.'

Julie, you've got some questions to finish off with.

Yes. We've had some good suggestions here about the length of the school day, and things that we'd like to see happen. Is there anything that you'd particularly like to see happen across Wales that you feel would really make a difference?

Just one observation, I guess, and this affects children to some degree, but maybe the wider culture more, which is that if you look at some European counties, when you go there, everyone is cycling, everyone is walking. I know the weather is different, but in reality a number of countries made decisions many decades back to radically change how they do infrastructure, who's got priority on the road, and how that's going to work. It's a very radical thing that takes a long time to do, and I think it's major in terms of cultural shift and physical activity.

I think I would add that I think that the environment in general, whether that's the fact that you've got access to green space in walking distance of your home, or—. Sorry, my two conversations this morning have got a lot of overlap, but we've talked quite a lot about the potential benefit of reducing the speed limit to 20 miles an hour, for example. It's not a magic bullet for any one area, but there is quite strong evidence, linking to what Ciaran has said, that it creates safer communities, and we know that children don't play outdoors because parents think it's dangerous, they don't walk to school because parents think it's dangerous, and cars on the road travelling at speed is a big—. Every piece of community engagement and consultation I've ever done will come up with traffic calming as a priority, and I'm sure you've had similar experience, because people worry about the speed of cars. So, there is a policy change that could be made that normalises 20 miles an hour instead of 30 miles an hour that probably would have benefits across connecting communities and the vulnerable population groups who don't feel that they can connect with their communities. So, there are some quite radical options, as Ciaran says, that we could potentially take as a society that really would signal our intention in the way that you've described, but would, the evidence suggests, make a difference. 

11:40

So, in terms of what we could do first, what should we do now to target our efforts, because I think those are excellent long-term suggestions, but what sort of actions could we take now that could lead towards, and go along with, longer term?  

A lot of the policy context is already there for some of the things we've talked about, so I think it's probably about accelerating our implementation and our monitoring of those things. I think, probably, if we think about some of the measures that we talked about around schools, they are things that we should be able to implement relatively quickly, and I think active travel, particularly for children, should be an area of major focus. So, that collective ambition of getting— . You know, that it's the normal thing to do. If your child doesn't walk or cycle to school and they're within travel distance, as we've said, and obviously they don't have a disability or otherwise that would make walking difficult, that should be the normal way to do it and that should be the ambition that we set ourselves. 

Ocê. Unrhyw gwestiynau eraill? Na. Unrhyw ddatganiadau rydych chi eisiau eu gwneud i gloi, achos mae'r cwestiynau ar ben? Felly, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi'ch dau am eich presenoldeb a hefyd am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig ymlaen llaw. Fe allaf i ddweud wrthych chi hefyd y byddwch chi'n derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau yma er mwyn i chi allu gwirio eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir.

Gyda hynny o ragymadrodd, dylwn i ddweud bod yr adran yma o'r pwyllgor ar ben. Felly, fe wnawn ni dorri am ginio nawr hefyd, i'm cyd-Aelodau, ac fe fyddwn ni nôl am 12:45. Diolch yn fawr iawn i bawb. 

Okay. Any further questions? No. Do you have any further closing statements, because the questions have come to an end? In that case, thank you very much to both of you for your attendance and also for the written evidence that we received beforehand. I can tell you that you will be receiving a transcript of these proceedings in order for you to check that they're factually accurate. 

With those few words, I declare that this part of the meeting is over. We will have a lunch break now, and we will be back at 12:45. Thank you very much. 

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:42 a 12:57.

The meeting adjourned between 11:42 and 12:57.

12:55
6. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc - tystiolaeth gan Estyn
6. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people - evidence from Estyn

Croeso nôl i bawb, felly, i'r sesiwn ar ôl cinio o'r Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Erbyn rŵan, rydym ni wedi cyrraedd eitem 6, a pharhad i'n ymchwiliad ni i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc, a thystiolaeth gan Estyn. Dyma'r drydedd sesiwn tystiolaeth heddiw ar gyfer ein hymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc. Mae wedi bod yn dra diddorol mor belled. Rydyn ni'n ddiolchgar i Estyn am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig a gyflwynwyd ymlaen llaw. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi. Ac hefyd, maen bleser cyflwyno Claire Morgan—nag yw. Mi fuasai'n bleser cyflwyno Claire Morgan, ond nid yw hi yma. [Chwerthin.] Jackie Gapper, cyfarwyddwr cynorthwyol, John Thomas, arolygwr Ei Mawrhydi, ac Anwen Griffiths, arolygwr Ei Mawrhydi. Croeso i'r tri ohonoch chi, a chydag ymddiheuriadau Claire Morgan yn ei habsenoldeb. 

Felly, awn yn syth i'r cwestiynau. Mae pawb wedi darllen eich tystiolaeth mewn manylder. Felly, fe wnawn ni ddechrau gyda Dawn. 

I welcome everyone back to this afternoon's session of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee here at the National Assembly for Wales. We've now reached item 6, which is a continuation of our inquiry into physical activity amongst children and young people, and we will now receive evidence from Estyn. This is the third evidence session today for our inquiry, and it's been very interesting so far. We're very grateful to Estyn for the written evidence that we received beforehand, and it's a pleasure to introduce Claire Morgan—no, it's not. It would be a pleasure to introduce Claire Morgan, but she's not here. [Laughter.] So, welcome to Jackie Gapper, who is an assistant director, John Thomas, Her Majesty's inspector, and Anwen Griffith, Her Majesty's inspector. I welcome the three of you and apologise to Claire Morgan, in her absence.

So, we'll go straight into questions. Everyone has read your written evidence in detail. So, we'll begin with Dawn. 

Thank you, Chair. Can I start by just asking you a general overview question? What is your view on the importance of physical activity as a broader part of the curriculum?

Well, clearly, physical education, if you like, is the only area of the curriculum where learning takes place primarily through a physical domain. So, it has unique importance in that way. Clearly, physical activity is a broader aspect, but, clearly, that is important. I think, through physical activity, pupils develop a wide range of life skills, not just physical skills, but life skills. It has absolute priority, or clear priority, in terms of the health of the nation. Your own remit, I think, for the inquiry, summarises that perfectly well, as does the 'Creating an Active Wales' document, going back to—whenever it was—2009. So, I think that emphasises the importance very clearly.

13:00

It's also part of one of the new areas of learning and experience with the new curriculum. Obviously, we're supportive of this work; we have HM inspectors who are involved in the work that the pioneers and other expert groups are developing, and, obviously, one of the strands of that is about developing an active body, improving health and well-being. So, obviously, it's early stages for that work, but that's been recognised there in terms of one of those broad areas of learning and experience.

So, I think the other important point about the importance of the area is that it's not just a school issue; it's something about needing co-ordination and collaboration across the community, involving parents as well, and a lot of the consultation from your inquiry also shows that. We mentioned in our evidence having schools as part of the community and this not just being part of the curriculum—the taught curriculum—but also wider, involving the collaboration of the whole community in the nation's health and well-being. So, it's a key area.

Can I just make one other point? If we want a nation where adults are physically active and participate regularly in physical activities, we need to build the fundamental basic skills, the competencies and the attitudes at an early age, and that's why schools are critical to that.

No, I haven't got anything to add.

Okay. Do you think the balance is about right now in terms of the curriculum? We don't yet know how it's going to play out in the new curriculum, but do you think the balance is about right or should we be looking to have a greater priority in the new curriculum maybe? What do you think?

I think that's a really good question, because physical activity is a priority for Welsh Government but there are equally other priorities, and we all know the priorities for literacy, numeracy and other ranges of skills, such as digital competencies. Establishing exactly what that balance should be, I think, is a really difficult, challenging question. I'm not totally convinced that, in a lot of schools at the moment, that balance is absolutely appropriate.There's a lot of emphasis in schools particularly on the way they're promoting and improving developing pupils' literacy and numeracy, and there is some evidence to suggest that, sometimes, other aspects of the curriculum may be affected because of that. We could elaborate later.

Yes, and we may cover this in a bit more detail as we go forward, because one of the things that we've talked about with some of the other groups who have come in to give evidence is whether we ought to even consider looking at extending the school day to allow physical activity. But, anyway, we may come back to that at some point.

In your survey data, you highlighted the very high levels of pupils who agree that school teaches them to be healthy, but the evidence shows that knowing it—being pointed in the right direction—and their actual activity levels are two different things. Would it arguably be more useful to be asking how active pupils are rather than whether they know they ought to be?

Obviously, those questions are pre-inspection questions, so we're asking them a broad range of questions and they tend to be, as you've seen there, generally positive, but we're able to follow up on that in inspection, when we speak to learners. From September 2017, we've also got a comment box that pupils are able to fill. So, if there are any concerns that they have or if there is anything they want to elaborate on with those questionnaires, they can do that. Obviously, we follow up by looking at a range of work that the learners are doing in school as well. So, the survey questions are a helpful start to get some initial lines of inquiry or emerging questions that we can follow up on when to speak to them, and we speak to a lot of pupils in school to ask them a little bit more in depth. But also, of course, schools use the Sport Wales survey questions themselves, or the School Health Research Network survey questions, or they have other surveys that they conduct as well to look into how pupils are participating and also looking at what activities they would like to develop. I think there is a range but, certainly, we're always open to looking at the questions that we ask and other questions. 

Another piece of work that we're doing, which the Welsh Government have asked us to do with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is to be developing a national self-evaluation toolkit for schools. And so, I think schools would value having a range of guidance about different well-being indicators or tools that they could use as well to help, in their own evaluation, in reflections on how to improve this aspect of the curriculum. So, that's something, again, that we're starting to develop and, again, can feed through into those particular questions.

13:05

Just to support that, equally, of course it would be useful to get as much evidence as possible about levels of physical activity, and not necessarily self-reported levels of physical activity but to try and undertake valid, reliable research to establish exactly what's happening. Groups like Estyn and Sport Wales can contribute to that, but there may be better, more effective ways of doing that as a research project.

But you're having the job of speaking directly to pupils in schools, so you're getting their first-hand reporting of what they do. When you do that, then—. One of the things your earlier report did highlight was the level of girls' participation. So, when you're following up and talking to the girls—and the boys, actually—in schools, what's your sense of the reasons for that lower level of girls' participation particularly?

A gaf i ateb hwn yn Gymraeg? Ydy hynny'n iawn? Diolch yn fawr. Rydym ni'n sgwrsio efo disgyblion yn rheolaidd yn ystod arolygiadau ac rydym ni'n canfod eu barn nhw yn eithaf trylwyr. Yn y sector cynradd, mae bechgyn a merched yn cyfrannu mewn gwersi yn gyson, i ddweud y gwir. Nid oes gwahaniaethau yn y cynradd, ond, o fewn yr uwchradd, mae yna ychydig, yn dal i fod, o ferched efallai sydd ddim yn cyfrannu gymaint i wersi addysg gorfforol neu weithgareddau allgyrsiol. A pham hynny? Wel, y rheswm mwyaf, efallai, ydy hunanddelwedd merched. Mae hynny yn sicr yn ffactor, a hefyd, efallai—

Could I answer in Welsh, please? Is that okay? Thank you very much. We are talking to pupils regularly during inspections and we ascertain their opinions quite thoroughly. In the primary sector, boys and girls contribute in lessons consistently, to tell you the truth. There are no difference in the primary sector, but in secondary there are still some girls who don't contribute or take part as much in physical education lessons or in extracurricular activities. And why? Well, the biggest reason, perhaps, is the self-image of girls. That certainly is a factor, and also, perhaps—

Sorry, Anwen, is that generally as they get a little older?

Yes, yes. Not in primary.

Yn yr uwchradd yn fwy na'r cynradd. A hefyd eu dewisiadau nhw—beth maen nhw eisiau ei wneud. Ond rydw i yn credu, os gwnawn ni edrych, efallai, yn fanylach ar y llwyddiannau sydd wedi digwydd, beth sydd wedi digwydd oherwydd hynny ydy bod plant, bod disgyblion, bellach, yn cael mynegi barn ar beth maen nhw eisiau ei wneud mewn addysg gorfforol. Mae yna fwy o weithgareddau, fel Zumba a dawnsio stryd ac yn y blaen, sydd yn denu diddordeb y merched yn ogystal â'r bechgyn, coeliwch o neu beidio. Rydw i'n credu bod hyd yn oed gwisg addysg gorfforol yn cael effaith ar gyfraniad merched i addysg gorfforol ac i weithgareddau corfforol. Felly, rydw i'n credu bod llais y disgybl yn llawer iawn cryfach ac yn cael effaith ar hynny, ac felly fod yna fwy o ferched yn cymryd rhan ac yn mwynhau. Ac wrth gwrs mae'r cyfryngau hefyd yn help, oherwydd y bobl sydd yn cyflwyno rhaglenni chwaraeon. Bellach, mae yna ferched yn gwneud hynny, ac y mae hynny yn denu diddordeb ymysg merched hefyd yn y byd chwaraeon.

In secondary, more than in primary. But it's also to do with their own choices and what they want to do. But I do think, if we look perhaps in more detail at the successes that have happened, that what's happened because of that, with children or pupils now able to give an opinion on what they want to do in PE, is that there are more activities, such as Zumba and street dancing and so forth, that attract the attention of girls as well as the boys, believe it or not. I think that even the uniforms or the clothes for PE have an influence on activities and their participation in PE. I think the voice of the pupil is much stronger now and has an impact on that, so that more girls do take part and enjoy. And, of course, the media also helps, because of the people who now present sports programmes. There are girls and women doing that, and that does attract the interest of girls, as well, in the sporting world.

13:10

So, is that generally across the board, or do you identify particular schools where that is good practice? Or is that something that is happening routinely—that girls, or all pupils, are encouraged to actually say the kinds of physical activities or sports that they would like?

Generally, it is across the board, yes, but it depends on resources and the expertise of teachers and stakeholders to deliver these things.

Yes, I understand that absolutely. So, that's kind of moving more away from traditional teaching of sport, as such, then, yes?

As I think you know, we carried out a remit about girls' sport in 2007 or 2008—I can't remember exactly—and we identified many issues. Some of those issues, of course, still remain. They're historical and cultural, and they're challenges. Anwen's spoken about the way some of those challenges are being addressed through the media, through trying to change social attitudes by having good role models for female sport. There's far more female sport on television these days. There are major competitions. There are increasing opportunities for girls to participate in actual team games, such as football, cricket, tag rugby, which they might not have been doing, to that extent, 10 years ago, as well as, let's say, the more individual aspects, again such as Anwen mentioned, which some girls choose to do because they've found the traditional netball or hockey on cold days perhaps less engaging. So, I think we have moved quite a long way forward, but I think we all know there's still a long way to go to create equity. I think, for most boys of 14 or 15, it's actually cool to be good at sport or to take part in sport. I think there are other things, maybe, for girls and young women that they perhaps might aspire to.

You said that the report that you referred to was 10 years old and you were talking about, at that time, not having that kind of equal respect across the gender groups. But what you're saying is that, in those 10 years, things have changed significantly; there is now a greater emphasis, as Anwen was saying, on discussing with pupils what it is they would want to do. That could be competitive sport or it could be other forms of physical activity. That's more prevalent than it was.

Definitely. It would be very difficult to put a sort of proportion or hard figure, but I think it's definitely moving in the right direction. But there's—

There's room further to go.

A gawn ni edrych ar yr amser sydd yna ar gael ar gyfer addysg gorfforol mewn ysgolion? Mi ydych chi ac eraill wedi pwyntio at y gostynigad sydd wedi bod yn yr amser sydd yn cael ei neilltuo ar gyfer addysg gorfforol mewn ysgol. Beth ydych chi'n meddwl sydd wedi gyrru'r gostyngiad yna?

Can we look at the time that's available for PE in schools? You and others have highlighted the reduction that is allocated to PE in schools. What do you think are the drivers behind that reduction?

Okay, well, we all know that there's been a Government recommendation that pupils should engage in 120 minutes of physical activity a week. I think that Sport Wales do a helpful survey that's published on My Local School, which indicates the actual number of minutes that are allocated to PE in schools at key stage 3 and key stage 4. One point one might add is that it's not necessarily about the amount of time; it's actually the quality of the experience in that time. You can get, let's say, 120 minutes of not-very-good quality, or you could get 80 minutes of high quality. So, you have to take that on board. There are pressures, and some of those pressures, particularly for pupils moving into key stage 4, come from other issues, other priorities perhaps, and that may well be to support pupils who need to improve their literacy, their numeracy so that schools can help pupils to get their English GCSE and their maths GCSE, because those things are important, but sometimes that leads to less time available for physical education. So, is it actually a challenge to fit all of the things into the available curriculum time that schools would want to do and have value.

13:15

Gwnaf i eich pwyntio chi at un darn o dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig a ddaeth gan bennaeth addysg gorfforol mewn ysgol, yn rhoi y bai, o leiaf yn rhannol, ar Estyn, yn dweud bod y gyrru gan Estyn a Llywodraeth Cymru i sicrhau bod safonau'n cael eu codi mewn llythrennedd a rhifedd ac ati'n golygu nad oes amser ar gyfer addysg gorfforol. Sut ydych chi'n ymateb i hynny? Ac onid un ateb fyddai ichi roi yr un pwyslais ar fonitro beth sy'n digwydd mewn addysg gorfforol mewn ysgolion ag ydych chi gyda llythrennedd a rhifedd?

I'll refer you to one piece of written evidence that came from the head of PE in a school who blamed Estyn partly for this, saying that the drive by Estyn and the Welsh Government to ensure that standards are raised in numeracy and literacy does mean that there's no time available for PE. How do you respond to that? Wouldn't one answer be for you to put as much emphasis on monitoring what happens in PE in schools as you do with numeracy and literacy?

Okay. Shall I deal with the first bit and then you can deal with it? I certainly wouldn't blame Estyn—that would be the first point—because I think any headteacher who values sport, physical activity in its broader sense, would make sure that the necessary time is available for those pupils.

But if they can get away with not doing it, you know, because you're not focusing on it quite as much—

Right, but we are trying to address a range of priorities, and perhaps it may be that's something that Welsh Government would like us to monitor more carefully. There are other bodies that can monitor precisely how many minutes are allocated to physical education within a school. To some extent, that is a numerical exercise.

Yes. You make a very good point there, actually. So, if not the school inspection system monitoring the quality of physical education, who should do that?

I think the thing is, in terms of looking at schools themselves as being learning organisations and schools taking on more responsibility, the headteacher and the governors of the schools determine their curriculum. We've got the opportunities now, in developing a new curriculum, for schools to decide on how they are going to be developing the new curriculum, from 'Successful Futures'. So, there's an opportunity here in terms of how schools can be looking at a range of different measures to look at what is most appropriate for the delivery of all aspects of the curriculum. But, particularly in this area here, it's about perhaps getting a change of culture. Obviously, literacy numeracy are important, but we haven't actually—. There are some myths going around to say that Estyn is actually forcing a narrowing of the curriculum to just focus on literacy and numeracy. Again, it's looking at how schools can ensure, looking at the learners' broad curriculm, and make sure that, in all aspects, that the knowledge, dispositions and subject skills are developed as importantly as literacy and numeracy in particular areas.

Mae yna un ffordd amlwg lle mae'n bosib rhoi mwy o sylw i rywbeth, sef i'w wneud o'n statudol. Mae nifer o bobl wedi dweud mewn tystiolaeth wrthym ni y bydden nhw'n dymuno gweld—. Rwy'n deall y gwahaniaeth rhwng cyfri munudau a gwerthuso safon. Rwy'n deall hynny'n iawn, ond mae i'w wneud efo statws hefyd. Yr awgrym ydy i'w wneud e'n statudol fel 120 ac yn sydyn reit fe fydd mae pobl yn eistedd i fyny i ac yn mynd, 'Reit, mae hwn yn bwysig.'

There's one obvious way in which it would be possible to give more attention to something, namely to make it statutory. A number of people have said in evidence to us that they would wish to see—. I do understand the difference between counting minutes and evaluating quality. I understand that difference very well, but it is to do with status as well. The suggestion is to make 120 minutes statutory and people will then sit up and say, 'Well, this is important.'

Well, I wouldn't necessarily argue with that premise, and I think there are a lot of people in the field of physical education, physical activity, who would agree with you if you want to give this aspect of the curriculum that status. And it does come back again to what your priorities, or what the Welsh Government's priorities, are. If they feel that, in order to tackle and challenge the health issues, that's a step, then, arguably—. But other parts of the UK have steered clear, I guess, of making it statutory as well. 

And it's also, I suppose, looking at the quality and extent of experiences outside of lessons. Again, when we're looking at the new curriculum, you're looking at broad areas of learning and experience, and the opportunities that different learners will have across that week to be able to engage and be physically active, not just necessarily trying to cram into a particular lesson, but also thinking about the time, more generally, in the school day and outside the school day. And that comes down to how you can engage with the community, and there are going to be challenges and pressures geographically in Wales for everyone to be doing the same sort of thing. Because, again, you'll have differences in different parts of Wales in terms of the accessibility to learners from all backgrounds and experiences to be able to have after-school experiences, if there are transport issues, for example.

So, I think it's a case of looking at, yes, what is actually taught, the taught aspect of physical activity, but also the other experiences that come in and other bodies that also can help to support in the local community to engage learners in changing their disposition, changing their attitudes about lifelong fitness and the health benefits that being active gives.

13:20

And it's an extra challenge in Welsh, well, rural schools, because it has a cost implication then of busing pupils, transporting them and—.

Ie. Rydw i'n cymryd—. Yn mynd yn ôl at wneud y defnydd gorau o'r diwrnod ysgol, rydych chi'n sôn yn eich tystiolaeth ysgrifenedig am y gwasgu sydd wedi bod ar yr awr ginio mewn ysgol, gwasgu sydd wedi bod ar amser chwarae mewn ysgol. Roedd hynny'n rhywbeth a oedd yn cael ei grybwyll gennym ni'r bore yma. Hynny ydy, nid ydym ni, o bosib, yn creu digon o amser yn y diwrnod ysgol.

Felly, pan benderfynodd Llywodraethau Cymru yn y gorffennol bod maeth da cyn diwrnod ysgol yn llesol i’r plant, beth y gwnaethpwyd, mewn difrif, oedd ymestyn y diwrnod ysgol i ddechrau am 8.15 a.m. er mwyn cynnwys amser bwyta. Beth am y posibilrwydd, te, o ymestyn y diwrnod ysgol er mwyn gwneud y peth arall sydd angen ei wneud i gadw’n iach, sef ymarfer corff? Nid siarad yn fan hyn ydym ni am addysg gorfforol, ond creu lle i weithgaredd corfforol.

Yes. I take it—. Returning to the issue of making the best use of the school day, you mention in your written evidence about the pressure that there has been on the lunch hour in school, and the pressure on play times in school, and that was mentioned this morning. That is, we don't, possibly, create enough time in the school day.

Therefore, when Welsh Governments in the past decided that good nutrition before the school day was beneficial to children, what was done was to extend the school day to start at 8.15 a.m. in order to include eating time. What about the possibility, therefore, of extending the school day in order to do the other thing that needs to be done to keep healthy, namely to have physical activity? I'm not talking here about PE, but creating a space for physical activity.

Again, I totally understand where you're coming from. Having spent a large number of years teaching physical education and running clubs after school, I frequently, either at home, look out of my window and observe children walking home at 3.00 p.m. or 3.15 p.m. and I ask myself the question: 'What are those children going to do in the next two hours that is constructive, valuable and is going to enhance their lives or their learning?' I can't always give an answer to that question, but I ask myself the question and I think it's a valid question. 

I certainly believe that you could make a very strong case for a longer school day that would support other activities as well as physical activities, but, equally, one needs to look at the input or the potential for clubs and sports associations to fill that gap and provide those activities after school. Because culture—traditionally, historically in this country, or in the UK, schools have been very much at the heart of running teams and clubs for pupils to engage in. If you go to countries on the continent, a lot of those pupils at the end of the school day go straight off to their sports clubs, their hockey clubs. So, it's not only schools that can deliver it, but I think it's a perfectly valid question to ask, 'Are we creating the opportunities that we might with a longer school day?'

I think you're making some very good suggestions there, because I think we as a committee, we chat after the microphones are switched off and we have a feeling that something could be done more with those hours between 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock, but we don't want to put pressure on teachers either. We understand. We don't want to make them work longer hours. And I think—

That's your biggest challenge. But it isn't just a school issue; it has to go wider than that.

And, if you were, for example, to have provision at school that pupils were expected to stay at because the school day actually didn't finish until 4.30 p.m., but that, if those pupils chose instead to go down to the rugby club and sign the register there—or the football club or the gym—that that would be perfectly fine as well. Is there something there that—

13:25

Look, I worked for many years in a boarding school, where pupils had immense opportunities to engage in physical activity—sports, recreational activities as well as cultural activities—so I'm very aware of the potential that a longer school day could offer. But that's a personal view.

What would Estyn say if that was a recommendation of the committee?

Again, there's an opportunity now, I think, in the way that schools are looking at the new curriculum and the balance as the new curriculum starts rolling through in terms of how they're organising each of the areas of learning and experience, and I would think, again, it's a national programme; how it's locally delivered—. We have got evidence in terms of schools that we've inspected where they've used the local community after school or at lunchtimes to get clubs involved. I think there was an example, I think, John—. You know about a school that had a—was it a football club?

Links with community clubs are really important, and I can think of several examples, but, in one particular school I was in, they invited the local ladies' football team to train and practice at the school, and that immediately provided avenues for girls within the school to join that club and increased the amount of football that these girls were able to participate in. And, actually, when I observed some lessons in the school, the standard that these girls were performing at was really quite high. So, that's one. I can think of another school where they invited the local tennis club or they created a tennis club based on the school premises, and that immediately provided or enthused or made it easy, shall we say, or more accessible for youngsters from the school to become members of that tennis club. So, there are lots of creative ways that you can work with clubs and outside agencies to provide opportunities.

I think in terms of you know, whether in a day—. It's looking collaboratively across a particular community, because, as Anwen mentioned earlier, in some of the more rural communities, it may be more difficult actually, with transport arrangements, for schools and clubs and local facilities to be able to provide that range. So, I think it's certainly something that schools should be considering as they've got more of the opportunities now in developing these broader areas of learning and experience and, as part of that, I suppose that looking at how the taught curriculum and also the other experiences are going to be fitted into a school week would be part of those discussions.

If I could read one more point, there are certain sectors in our society, or groups, communities, within our society, who we know participate and engage less in physical activity. Maybe they're less affluent, they can't access the opportunities, or maybe culturally they don't embrace them. Those youngsters are not going to be joining clubs, going to local leisure centres, to the same extent as others, and, to be perfectly honest, it is schools that primarily are the institutions that can solve the problems for those youngsters. So, finding ways that schools can provide these opportunities for some of these groups, I think, is really quite critical, to be perfectly honest.

In terms of the PDG grant for the vulnerable pupils or the disadvantaged pupils, it's using that grant to support these pupils, because it should be for all learners, shouldn't it?

Just testing what you're saying just a little bit, that it should be more than just the school, it should be clubs, and whether that's a response to the realities of teachers' workload and that kind of thing, in an ideal world, if teachers were happy to and everything, would extending the school day to 4.30 p.m. and having five hours' extra physical activity dotted around the curriculum for every child in a week be something that would be appealing?

13:30

Well, again, I'm offering a personal view here, and my personal view would be 'very much so'. But it might not necessarily be totally to physical activities; it could be a significant proportion, but it would certainly create more opportunities for physical activity. There could be other things that would benefit as well, like the arts, creative arts—

Absolutely, and they're all developing life skills in various different ways. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a sad thing that I go back to teaching in the 1970s, and, prior to the industrial action in the 1980s, there were far more opportunities for youngsters to attend clubs and play teams after school and on Saturdays and things like that that diminished through that industrial action and never really recovered. That period of the early 1980s was challenging, and it's never really recovered.

In some sports—it's not just about sport, but, in some sports, particularly something like cricket, the clubs have really stepped forward and taken on board producing cricketers, but you won't find many schools now that do much cricket, either after school, and, certainly, you won't find many that run cricket teams on a Saturday. So, I personally think that a longer school day creates a lot of opportunities, constructive opportunities, for youngsters, but I totally agree with your concept that a lot of that could be delivered through clubs, or certain youngsters going to different recreational approved activities, if you like—off-site activities.

And the two of you—y ddwy ohonoch chi—what do you think?

Generally, it needs to be discussed, I think, as the new curriculum is being developed. Certainly, there's going to be more discussion needed about exactly how these areas of learning and experience are going to be delivered through the existing school day and whether there is any merit in looking at how the community and other collaboration with other—it's not just the community, but in terms of schools or colleges or other opportunities to be able to extend those experiences. Certainly, we're talking here about physical activity, but also, in terms of the other areas of learning and experience, there may well be other opportunities, more innovative opportunities, that could be made available with this new curriculum.

Cytuno'n llwyr. Mae'r profiadau y gall un gael o'r gweithgareddau ychwanegol, rwy'n credu, yn mynd i gael effaith.

I entirely agree. The experiences that someone can gain from additional activities, I believe, will have an impact.

Thank you. Just a few questions about teaching standards, really, in physical education, and whether there are some more opportunities for teachers to get involved in delivering physical education, because we certainly heard that there was a lack of skills amongst primary school teachers. We've heard previous evidence around that. So, do you think there is scope for more teachers actually getting involved in delivering physical education of some description?

Well, especially in primary school, if you've got a small rural school, then you're talking two teachers. So, the expertise is not there as it is in secondary schools. I know schools have come together and have planned good opportunities, effective opportunities, to develop teachers' skills in PE and different aspects of PE. For example, they go to Glan-llyn and Llangrannog, they do outdoor pursuits in those areas, even primary schools, at a very early age. In-house, they train teachers within a cluster of schools to develop their skills. Of course, in large primary schools, you've got more of a chance of getting that expertise, and it's sharing the good practice that we see happening in good schools—they do share practice.

Because, in secondary schools, we have—or we used to have—dedicated PE teachers, in primary schools, not so. So, it's part of their primary school training, presumably, that they would do that. So, that would have to be really brought in at initial teacher training stage, then, wouldn't it, for primary teachers?

13:35

I think that's partly the case. I think the amount of time—I'm not an expert on this, okay, but the amount of time dedicated to initial teacher education training for primary teachers that develops their competencies or skills in teaching physical education is probably quite limited. But that isn't the only way they can acquire those skills. They can acquire them in ongoing service training as part of the job.

If we go back a few years, there's no question that the physical education and school sport initiative had a significant beneficial impact in upskilling or supporting many primary school teachers to improve their skills, particularly in areas such as gymnastics, dance, and there were some excellent training materials provided. So, that was really beneficial. So, I don't think—. Clearly there's the potential to develop teachers' skills, competencies, during their career, on the job, rather than simply—

So, you wouldn't necessarily advocate that, then. That would be a routine part of primary school teacher training.

I think it would be beneficial to embrace whatever opportunities there are to improve the competencies in delivering this area of physical education, physical activity, for primary teachers. I think many lack confidence, and that's a real issue, particularly if they think there are potential risk factors in that work. So, personally I think you should consider every possible means of identifying how you can improve the competencies and skills of those people.

And in terms of initial teacher education now, again, in developing the new curriculum, with the new accreditation that's happening currently, there's more of a potential there for getting involved, getting partner schools involved with what will happen with the new initial teacher education to be able to develop the content around the areas—

Is that something you've raised with Welsh Government, about the content of the training?

It's something that we are in discussions with Welsh Government on, as the accreditation process goes forward, and, again, in terms of, generally, as the areas of learning and experience are being developed, it's important that initial teacher education is also at the forefront of that to make sure that the teachers are well-skilled. But also, you've got opportunities with schools that become the partnership schools. Having the experiences from experienced teachers to support that as well would be a welcome move. And, of course, in terms of regional consortia there are also hub schools with different subject areas of expertise. So, again, there's an opportunity out there for sharing the good practice that exists, but, again, in a co-ordinated way. 

Of course, yes. Okay, thank you. Thank you, Chair. 

Mae'r cwestiynau olaf o dan ofal Rhun ap Iorwerth.

The final questions are from Rhun ap Iorwerth. 

Rydw i'n meddwl mai dim ond un cwestiwn y byddwn i'n ei ofyn i'r tri ohonoch chi, jest er mwyn gwneud yn siŵr ein bod ni'n deall eich pwyslais chi ar le dylem ni fynd o hyn ymlaen. Beth fyddai'r un peth a fyddai'n flaenoriaeth i ddigwydd rŵan er mwyn cynyddu gweithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc yng Nghymru? 

I think that there is only one final question that I would want to ask the three of you, just in order to ensure that we understand your emphasis on where we should go from now. What would be the one thing that would be an immediate priority in order to increase physical activity among children and young people in Wales?

Rydw i'n credu, fel mae Jackie wedi dweud yn gynharach, cymryd y cyfle sydd yn dod rŵan i addasu'r cwricwlwm i roi mwy o bwyslais ar yr agwedd yma, ac rydw i'n credu bod angen i arweinwyr yr ysgol hefyd fod yn rhan allweddol o hyn i gymryd hyn ymlaen. Rydw i'n credu ei fod o'n amser cyffrous, ac efallai dyma'r amser inni gryfhau'r agwedd hon. 

I think that, as Jackie said earlier, we should take the opportunity that arises now to adapt the curriculum, to put more emphasis on this aspect, and I believe that school leaders also need to be a key part of this to take this forward. I think that it is an exciting time, and perhaps this is the time for us to strengthen this aspect.

Ac un is-gwestiwn: a ydy adolygu'r cwricwlwm rŵan, yn eich meddyliau chi, yn gyfle hefyd i adolygu pethau mor sylfaenol â hyd y diwrnod ysgol? Neu a ydy hynny jest yn fater contractual o ran cyflogau athrawon ac ati? 

And one sub-question: is reviewing the curriculum in your minds an opportunity to review such basic things as the length of the school day, or is that a contractual issue in terms of teachers' terms and conditions, and so forth? 

13:40

Certainly, I think we'd have to come back to you—

Fine, okay. I'll take that as, 'Yes, it's a contractual thing.' To go back to that basic question, then, about the one thing—.

As Anwen said, we're at an opportunity now where a new curriculum is being developed, but I think as well as that it is about the collaboration, and I think it's about that sense of community and how Wales can be developing those communities, and making sure that the strategies generally are more inclusive. So, again, we've got the opportunities in terms of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 with the ways of working—I think it's something that we would support about being collaborative, and looking at ways that we can be more preventative in terms of developing the health and physical activity of our nation. With these areas of learning and experience, you've got that wider sense of getting the community—the schools, colleges and the locality, and parents are an important part of that as well—. So, I would say that's important. 

Os caf ychwanegu at hynny, ynglŷn â phwysigrwydd y cyfnod sylfaen o oed cynnar iawn—mae llawer o'r gweithgareddau cyfnod sylfaen yn cael eu gwneud yn allanol, y tu allan i'r ystafell ddosbarth, ac rydw i'n credu bod y pwyslais ar y cyfnod sylfaen, a beth mae'r cyfnod sylfaen yn ei gynnig i ddisgyblion ifanc, a hyd yn oed mewn sefydliadau nas cynhelir, lle mae llawer iawn o weithgareddau corfforol yn cael eu gwneud yn gynnar iawn cyn oed ysgol, yn bwysig hefyd. 

If I may add to that, in relation to the importance of the foundation phase from a very early age—a lot of the activities in the foundation phase are carried out outside of the classroom, and I think that the emphasis on the foundation phase, and what that can offer young pupils, even in non-maintained organisations, where a great deal of physical activity is carried out very early before school age, is also important.    

I'm going to cheat a little bit here because I agree with both of my colleagues, first of all, that, clearly, the review of the curriculum offers immense opportunities to address some of these issues. There's a lot of scope there for creative thinking to address some of these issues. And I would agree that there is an opportunity to reflect as part of that on just how well children's time is used up to, let's say, about five o'clock, rather than just three o'clock, and that may lead to thinking or reflection on the length of the school day, but it also leads to reflection on how else that time could be used well. 

There'd be one more immediate thing that I would suggest, and that is that in physical education lessons, pupils should have opportunities to engage in sustained activity, rigorous activity, for a good proportion of the lesson, because I see a lot of lessons going around, or a considerable number of lessons going around in secondary physical education, and when I actually ask teachers at the end to reflect, 'Just how active were your pupils in that lesson?'—[Interruption.] I'm sorry?

Well, look, it's a good question to ask, and sometimes pupils are extremely active and, yes, they do raise their heart rate, raise their pulse rate, increase their breathing, but in a lot of lessons we also see—not a lot, but in a significant proportion of lessons—a lot of time spent evaluating, analysing, discussing aspects, and in an hour's lesson, by the time you've taken out changing and things like that, you've not got many minutes where pupils are actually physically active and reaching sustained levels, which a lot of those children won't do at any other time in the school week. So, if they're not getting that in physical education lessons, when are they going to get it? 

And our very first witness, who runs a very successful social enterprise sports club, working very closely with the school, is a former army physical training instructor, and is very keen on introducing PT—physical training—which would be that kind of thing as an element of—

There's a balance, because all subjects are looking to improve pupils' communication skills, analytical skills, and that's really important, that's a live skill, but in the best lessons you'll see teachers manage that seamlessly, and they can retain high levels of activity. But pupils, while they're being active, can still be analysing what's happening. In 1944, following the Education Act 1944—and I don't quite remember that, but I do remember having the book that came out afterwards—there was a really useful book. It was produced, essentially, for non-specialist teachers—there were a lot of them around at the time—and it was all physical training activities, and it was various routines, jumping about and small games and things like that. I used to use that quite often when it was wet-weather lessons and we had a large group in the gym, or I used to use it with adult night classes, and, often, those were the most enjoyable lessons that both the pupils and the parents, the adults, took part in, and it really raised the pulse rate, but they actually enjoyed the activities as well. And it is slightly towards physical training but it's fun. And so—

13:45

It's circuit training, really, isn't it? The same kind of thing.

Well, yes, that's another example, but there are lots of ways of doing that. 

Dyna ni. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi. Dyna ddiwedd y sesiwn. Mae'r cwestiynau ar ben. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am eich presenoldeb. Diolch hefyd am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig a gyflwynwyd ymlaen llaw. A gaf i bellach gadarnhau y byddwch chi'n derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau yma, er mwyn i chi allu cadarnhau eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir? Ond gyda hynny o ragymadrodd, a allaf ddiolch i chi unwaith eto am eich presenoldeb. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi. 

There we go. Thank you very much. And that's the end of the session. The questions have come to a close. Thank you for your attendance and thank you also for the written evidence that was given to us beforehand. Could I confirm that you will receive a transcript of the proceedings in order to check for factual accuracy? But with those concluding remarks, could I thank you once again for our attendance. Thank you very much. 

7. Papurau i’w nodi
7. Papers to note

Symudwn ymlaen i eitem 7—i fy nghyd-Aelodau—a phapurau i'w nodi. Yr un cyntaf ydy Rheoliadau Safonau’r Gymraeg (Rhif 7) 2018. Mi fyddwch chi'n ymwybodol y gwnes i, fel Cadeirydd y pwyllgor yma, fynychu cyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, yr Iaith Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu bore ddoe, er mwyn gwrando i mewn, a hefyd i ofyn ambell gwestiwn ar y safonau yma. A'r gwir i'w nodi, yn deillio o'r drafodaeth yna yn y pwyllgor diwylliant, yw bod Aelodau, yn gyffredinol, yn credu bod angen cryfhau safonau'r Gymraeg yn y gwasanaeth iechyd, ac mae yna argymhellion, rwy'n credu, gerbron, i'r perwyl yna, oddi wrth y pwyllgor. Nid oeddem ni'n gallu craffu ein hunain fel pwyllgor achos yr amserlen dynn iawn. Roedd rhaid i'r craffu ddigwydd yr wythnos yma, yn sylfaenol, achos mae'r bleidlais arnyn nhw ddydd Mawrth nesaf, ac wedyn cynrychioli'r pwyllgor yma yr oeddwn i am ryw awr ar y pwyllgor diwylliant bore ddoe. Felly, ychydig bach o flas, achos maen nhw'n bapurau i'w nodi gerbron. 

Mi fydd yna drafodaeth brynhawn dydd Mawrth nesaf, a phleidleisio arnyn nhw, felly byddwn i yn eich annog chi i'w darllen nhw, achos mae hynny'n bwysig i'r gwasanaeth iechyd, yn ogystal ag i'r pwyllgor diwylliant a'r Gymraeg. 

Yr ail fater o dan y papurau i'w nodi ydy nodiadau ar y gweithgarwch ymgysylltu mewn perthynas ag ymchwiliad y pwyllgor i weithgaredd corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc. A'r trydydd peth ydy'r llythyr gan Gadeirydd y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg yn ymwneud ag ymchwiliad y pwyllgor i atal hunanladdiad. 

We move on to item 7 and the papers to note. The first is the Welsh Language Standards (No. 7) Regulations 2018. You will be aware that, as Chair of this committee, I attended the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee yesterday morning, in order to listen in, and also to ask some questions on these standards. And stemming from that discussion, it's true to say that, generally, Members thought that the Welsh language standards in the health service needed to be strengthened, and I think there are recommendations, to that end, from that committee. We couldn't scrutinise that ourselves as a committee because of the very tight timetable. That scrutiny had to happen this week because there is a vote on them next Tuesday, and therefore I was representing this committee for about an hour on the culture committee yesterday morning. So, a little taster of that because there are papers to note before us. 

There will be a discussion next Tuesday afternoon, and a vote on them, so I would encourage you to read them, because that's important to the NHS, as well as to the culture and Welsh language committee. 

The second item under the papers to note is the notes from the engagement activity relating to the committee's inquiry into physical activity for children and young people. And the third thing is a letter from the Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee relating to the committee's inquiry into suicide prevention. 

8. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
8. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Felly, symudwn ymlaen i eitem 8, a'r cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod heddiw er mwyn trafod ein tystiolaeth mewn sesiwn breifat. Pawb yn cytuno? Cytuno. Dyna ni.

Therefore, we move on to item 8, which is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of today's meeting in order to discuss the evidence in a private session. Does everybody agree? Agreed. There we go.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:48.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 13:48.

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