Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon

Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

19/04/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Angela Burns AC
Caroline Jones AC
Dai Lloyd AC Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Jayne Bryant AC
Julie Morgan AC
Lynne Neagle AC
Rhun ap Iorwerth AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Dr Nalda Wainwright Athrofa Llythrennedd Corfforol Cymru ym Mhrifysgol Cymru Y Drindod Dewi Sant
The Wales Institute for Physical Literacy at The University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Emma Curtis Comisiynydd Plant Cymru
Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Fiona Reid Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru
Disability Sport Wales
Graham Williams Chwaraeon Cymru
Sport Wales
Michelle Daltry Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru
Disability Sport Wales
Sarah Powell Chwaraeon Cymru
Sport Wales
Yr Athro Mark Hanson Prifysgol Southampton
University of Southampton
Yr Athro Sally Holland Comisiynydd Plant Cymru
Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Yr Athro Simon Murphy Prifysgol Caerdydd
Cardiff University

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Amy Clifton Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Claire Morris Clerc
Clerk
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 y cyfarfod am 09:31.

The meeting began at 09:31.

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

Croeso i chi i gyd i gyfarfod diweddaraf y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Hefyd, croeso arbennig i Proffesor Hanson ym Mhrifysgol Southampton—mae cysylltiad uniongyrchol efo Southampton.

Welcome to you all to the latest meeting of the Health, Social Care and Sports Committee here at the National Assembly for Wales. Can I also welcome Professor Hanson from the University of Southampton? We have a link with Southampton today.

Good morning. Bore da. Gallaf i bellach estyn croeso i'm cyd-Aelodau ar y pwyllgor, a hefyd atgoffa pawb fod y cyfarfod yma yn naturiol ddwyieithog a gellid defnyddio 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. Nid ydym ni'n disgwyl y larwm tân yn yr adeilad yma y bore yma, felly os oes yna larwm fe ddylem ni ddilyn cyfarwyddiadau'r tywyswyr. Nid oes angen i neb yn fan hyn gyffwrdd â'r microffonau; maen nhw'n gweithio'n awtomatig. Rydym ni wedi derbyn ymddiheuriadau y bore yma gan Dawn Bowden ac nid oes neb yn dirprwyo ar ein rhan.

Good morning. Can I also please welcome my fellow Members on the committee, and also remind everyone that the meeting is bilingual and you can use headsets to hear interpretation from Welsh to English on channel 1 or amplification on channel 2. We're not expecting a fire drill today, so if you do hear the alarm, please follow the directions of the ushers. Please don't touch the microphones; they work automatically. We have had apologies this morning from Dawn Bowden and we do not have a substitute for her today.

2. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc: Sesiwn dystiolaeth gydag academyddion
2. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people: Evidence session with academics

Trown ymlaen, felly, at eitem 2 a pharhad ein hymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc—sesiwn dystiolaeth rhif 2, gyda phanel o academyddion. Felly, rydw i'n falch i groesawu yn arbennig, felly, unwaith eto, yr Athro Mark Hanson, Prifysgol Southampton, sydd yma trwy gyfrwng Skype. Croeso unwaith eto. Yma o'n blaenau ni: yr Athro Simon Murphy, Prifysgol Caerdydd, a Dr Nalda Wainwright, Sefydliad Gweithgarwch Corfforol Cymru. Croeso i chi i gyd. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am y dystiolaeth arbennig ysgrifenedig rydym ni wedi derbyn ymlaen llaw. Nid oes eira yng Nghaerdydd heddiw, felly mae hwn yn ohiriad o'r cyfarfod a ddylai fod wedi ei gynnal ar 1 Mawrth. Gyda hynny o ragymadrodd, fe awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynau. Felly, mae Rhun yn mynd i agor. Rhun.

We move on, therefore, to item 2 and a continuation of our inquiry into the physical activity of children and young people. This is evidence session 2, and we have a panel of academics this morning. I'm very pleased to welcome, once again, Professor Mark Hanson from the University of Southampton, who is here via Skype. Welcome to you. Also here in the room today, we have Professor Simon Murphy, from Cardiff University, and Dr Nalda Wainwright from the Wales Institute for Physical Activity. Welcome to you all. Thank you very much to you for the excellent written evidence you've given us in advance. We don't have snow here in Cardiff today, because of course this is a postponement of a previous session that should have been held on 1 March. So, with those few words, we'll go straight into questions, if we may. So, Rhun is going to start. 

Bore da i chi i gyd, a chroeso atom ni i gyd. Rydw i wedi mwynhau darllen y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig a gafodd ei hanfon atom ni, a diolch am hynny. Rydym ni i gyd yn gytûn ar yr angen i gynyddu gweithgarwch. Rydym ni'n gofyn sut i wneud hynny. Ond rydw i'n meddwl eich bod chi, yr Athro Hanson, yn cyflwyno elfen bwysig iawn newydd i'r hyn rydym ni'n ei drafod, sef pryd ddylai hyn ddigwydd. Mae gen i ddiddordeb mawr yn yr hyn rydych chi'n ei ddweud ynglŷn â chyflwyno gweithgarwch penodol yn gynnar iawn mewn bywyd. A allwch chi egluro pam fod y gweithgarwch plentyndod cynnar yna mor, mor bwysig, a beth ydy'r dystiolaeth?

Good morning to you all and welcome. I have enjoyed reading your written evidence, and thank you for that evidence. We're all agreed on the need to increase activity. We're asking how to do so. I think you, Professor Hanson, present a very important new element in what we're discussing, which is when this should happen. I have great interest in what you're saying about introducing specific activity in early childhood. Could you explain why early childhood activity is so, so important, and what is the evidence?

Certainly, yes. Good morning. So, our research here at the University of Southampton for the last two decades has shown that a life-course approach to non-communicable disease risk, of which, of course, obesity is a major factor, is extremely important. One of the little graphs that I've included in the details that I've sent to you shows how the life-course risk of non-communicable diseases increases with age. What this means, unfortunately, is that it starts, actually, at birth, or even before birth. So, children in this country, and everywhere, are not born equal. They will start their lives and follow a higher or a lower risk trajectory. This gives us a potential opportunity to intervene, but it also gives us a fantastic potential return on investment if we're able to do so.

The kinds of aspects of early life that are programmed, if you like, and are set up in early life, are: appetite, food preference, metabolism, cardiovascular control and, we think, possibly even the propensity to exercise. These factors are passed from one generation to the next not just by genetic factors or indeed even by environmental factors, but by aspects of the mother and, we now know, the father's body composition, their diet and their lifestyle. We know, of course, that if parents smoke, that produces risky development of the child, but we're now beginning to see that whether the parents are obese, whether they have a balanced diet and other aspects of their lifestyle can pass on risk from one generation to the next. So, whilst our work here over the last 10 years has very much focused on improving adolescent behaviour to try to make them healthier parents in the future, we're now beginning to realise that actually we need to start even earlier than that. In fact, in primary school children or even in pre-school children, there's a need to take some interventions. 

You know, of course, in the data from Wales—I think 26 per cent of children from good backgrounds are overweight or obese, but that's something like 29 per cent in those from deprived backgrounds. So, we can just see how these factors will set up risk that will then be passed to the next generation. I'm happy to say more about some of the interventions that we're piloting, but the principle, I think—very much encapsulated in the report of the World Health Organization's commission of ending childhood obesity, on which I served, published in early 2016—is that we need a life-course approach if we're going to tackle this problem of childhood obesity. I'll stop there.   

09:35

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Beth rŷm ni angen ei wneud fel pwyllgor, wrth gwrs, ydy tynnu allan o hynny—ac mae gan Athrofa Llythrennedd Corfforol Cymru eu syniadau nhw ynglŷn â beth i'w wneud yn fan hyn—ond rŷm ni eisiau tynnu allan o'r hyn rŷch chi'n ei ddweud yr hyn y gallem ni fod yn ei argymell y gallai Llywodraeth Cymru fod yn ei wneud o ran hybu'r newid yna, ar gyfer yr hirdymor, ie, ond camau byrdymor y gallen nhw fod yn eu cymryd. A ydych chi wedi gallu adnabod yr ychydig o bethau yna fyddai'r Llywodraeth yn gallu eu gwneud ac y byddech chi yn disgwyl iddyn nhw wneud gwahaniaeth sylweddol?  

Thank you very much. What we need to do as a committee, of course, is to take out from that—and the Wales Institute of Physical Literacy have their own ideas about what to do—but we want to draw out of what you're saying what we could be recommending that the Welsh Government could be doing in terms of promoting that change, for the long term, yes, but also the short-term steps they could be taking. Have you been able to identify those few things that the Government could be doing and that you would expect to make a significant change?  

Yes. What we've been doing in our adolescents initially was to set up a programme called LifeLab. We're aware that schools, of course, have an important role in encouraging children to be active and have healthy diets and so on and healthy behaviours, but, very often, the impact of any interventions that have been tried in the schools is either relatively small or for a relatively short duration. So, we thought that in order to break the mould we needed to find a new way of engaging, in this case adolescents.

So, we set up something called LifeLab, which is in fact a designated classroom and laboratory in our hospital here where we bring children from Southampton schools in. We don't preach or try and teach them, we just get them inspired by the science that we do and then encourage them to think about how that relates to their own behaviours and lifestyles. We've had 7,500 students through the programme and it's been very successful, very well received by them and their teachers and parents. What we've been able to show is that you can change the attitudes of students to these issues, even a year after the experience of visiting LifeLab, but we're not sure that we can actually change their behaviour at that time. So, we feel it's too late.

So, what we're now piloting is a programme called Early LifeLab, which works in primary schools. It builds on the enquiry skills or the need for enquiry skills and the natural curiosity of children in the primary years, to get them interested in their bodies, how they work and why physical activity and a reduction in sedentary activity is important. It's developed with teachers and applied by teachers, so it's not providing an extra burden on them. It's very much incorporated with STEM subjects and with the school curriculum as a whole. We're finding already that that is providing a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of interest in the city. 

But the last thing to say, I suppose, is the issue, to a certain extent, of how this could be funded. And we've been talking to the Minister for public health here, Steve Brine MP, about the possibility of using some aspects of the sugar-sweetened beverages levy to make it clear to schools that they could use this in a much more flexible way than simply just trying to promote physical activity programmes. They could think about schemes like Early LifeLab, which have a cross-curriculum ability to change behaviour. I'm not sure how this would work with the Barnett formula in Wales, but it may well that this would be something that would provide a way forward to actually, as I say, really break the mould here.

09:40

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Rydw i'n digwydd cytuno. Rydw innau wedi dweud rhywbeth tebyg i chi—y dylai arian o'r lefi ar ddiodydd â siwgr ynddyn nhw gael ei ddefnyddio i daclo'r maes yma.

Dr Wainwright, beth rydych chi'n ei wneud yn Athrofa Llythrennedd Corfforol Cymru ydy bod yn benodol iawn ynglŷn â beth sydd angen ei wneud i newid cyrff a newid sgiliau motor plant pan maen nhw’n ifanc iawn. Dywedwch wrthym ni beth rydych chi'n meddwl allai gael ei wneud fel rhaglen genedlaethol a allai wneud gwahaniaeth wirioneddol yn y maes yma.

Thank you very much. As it happens, I agree. I've also said something similar to you—that money from the levy on soft drinks should be used to tackle this.

Dr Wainwright, what you in the Wales Institute for Physical Literacy are doing is being very specific about what needs to be done to change bodies and the motor skills of children when they are very young. Tell us what you think could be done as a national programme that could make a significant change in this area.

I agree with Professor Hanson that early childhood is a particularly important time, and you'll have seen in my report the model of motor development, which shows that relationship between physical activity and motor development. What children perceive of themselves as a mover and their fitness is absolutely crucial in determining the trajectory that they'll go on.

We've targeted pre-school and foundation phase in our work, specifically because there's a strong evidence base from Professor Goodway's work in the States where they put an intervention in to improve the quality of children's movement. What we know from that research from 20 to 30 years' worth of work from David Stodden and Jackie Goodway is that if we don't teach children to be good movers in that little window when they don't know whether they're good or not—. So, under the age of about seven, they're very inaccurate in judging that, so, they're very keen to move. And if we teach them to be good movers in that window, they're more likely to move when they're given choice. The evidence shows that when they're given free time and recess time and playtime they'll choose to be more active.

The problem we have is that that window is taught mostly by non-specialists and you actually need to teach the children these skills. They don't learn it just through playing alone. We've done research in the foundation phase, looking at that play-based curriculum, which should be ideal for children to learn to move really well. And what we've seen is that their locomotor travelling skills do develop, because they do a lot of playing outside when the foundation phase is done well. But their object control, their striking, their hitting, their manipulative skills don't improve. And that's because these are very specific cultural skills and unfortunately they're also the biggest predictor of adolescent physical activity. So, we really need to nail that before they get to that age of seven or eight where the penny drops and they look around and they go, 'Well, I'm not very good at moving, so, I'm out of here, I'm bringing a note, I'm not going to be in school on those days in my kit.'

With that in mind, we've looked at motor development training with mentors. The initial part of that work was funded by the Welsh Government's physical literacy programme for schools, where we put in that as an approach to see if we could plug this gap in the foundation phase. And what we do is we use this successful kinaesthetic instruction for pre-schoolers—we call it SKIP Cymru—and we train the teachers to understand how children move through those stages. They do it in literacy and numeracy, but nobody's taught them that in a physical context. There's been such a misconception in the world of academia around motor development—suggesting children learn that by themselves through play. But that's like chucking a bag of letters in the room and saying, 'Play with it enough and you'll learn to read', and teachers go, 'That's ridiculous'. It's the same thing. So, we really need to plug this knowledge gap with our teachers and that's what we've been doing, and rolling it out.

At the moment we've hit virtually all schools in Pembrokeshire. We're now working with pre-school settings, because we've realised, due to a lot of the issues of the family and the home, these children are coming in without the pre-requisites required for learning these skills. So, we're working a lot with families and part of the physical literacy project was parental engagement and we build that in through all of it. So, we hit the foundation phase from three, we hit pre-schoolers, we're doing work with all of the early childhood settings in Swansea and Pembrokeshire Flying Start, training the practitioners and the teachers to actually be able to teach the children these skills. And now we've got Merthyr schools asking us to come on board. What I would suggest—and I've sent a paper to the education Minister and met with the education Minister about it—is that we could roll this out to every foundation phase in Wales. It's really cheap, because we train teachers in-house—we just mentor it. It's what we're doing now—I would extend that. Our work does do life-course stuff, but if we don't get this foundation right, you can put all of the interventions in, as Professor Hanson said, later on, but they've already decided by seven or eight.

09:45

It ties in, you know, with what we were talking about in our very first session with Ray Williams, former Commonwealth gold medal weightlifter, who's got very clear ideas on what we need to do. He'd like to see physical training—he's a former army physical training instructor. He'd like to see physical training introduced in schools. It may be that he has a different vision to you of what that physical training would be, but it's essentially the same, isn't it? It's building something very evidence based into the school day.

It is evidence based. What's brilliant that the Welsh Government have done so well—as you know, we have the foundation phase, which is world class. It's a play-based curriculum that's developmentally appropriate for these children. It's not about drilling children in their physical—. What children do through play, developmentally, for cognitive development as well as physical, is right.

What we don't have are teachers who are able to just intervene and recognise the stage and alter the environment around that play—change the size of a ball or change the equipment—because they haven't had that training as part of their initial teacher education. Historically, in the UK, it hasn't been part of our training, because children used to play out all of the time with older siblings and cousins, and it was a passed-down knowledge, which masked the fact that it was being taught, but it was being taught by siblings or kids on the street.

Now, children aren't doing any of that play. They're coming into school with—. What we see, in the children we've been testing, because we've been evaluating this as we go along, is that they've got motor developmental delays, which, if you remember that model, will send them into that downward spiral that Professor Hanson talked about, especially in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.

So, for us, it's been—. We've seen, in literally 10 weeks of teachers being on the training and being mentored, implementing this programme of work into the foundation phase—. So, they're not changing what they're doing in the foundation phase, they're just being able to tweak their practice, because it is play based anyway, to incorporate much more physical development as part of their learning, as well as having structured time, which is part of the foundation phase. So, it's developmentally appropriate in that way.

We've got lots of questions, don't worry, and lots of time—well, not so much time, but lots of questions. Caroline next.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for your written evidence, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. My question is on the part that schools play. We know that schools play an important part in physical activity and the development of children, but it's disturbing to see that only 15 per cent of schools are providing two hours a week for seven to 11-year-olds. Cardiff University also highlights the length of lunch breaks in schools, and we know that it's important for pupils to eat well and have a balanced diet, so diet and physical activity go hand in hand with regard to a pupil's well-being. So, would you advocate extending the school day to accomplish all that we're trying to achieve?

Some of the work that we've been doing is examining the influence of school contexts on physical activity and those sorts of health outcomes. One of the key things we're able to do is look at that over time. So, in the evidence I presented, we did identify that those schools with the shorter lunch breaks had lower levels of physical activity. It is, potentially, complex, because even when there were higher levels of physical activity provision with the school, although that worked for boys it did not for girls. Even then, when boys were more active within school, they compensated for that when they were at home, so they actually became more sedentary.

So, I think the answer I'll give you is: yes, we should certainly look at that, but I'd recommend piloting it and rolling it out, so that we could monitor and observe its impact and learn from that. Because the benefits of that might not be the same for all of the school population, and it might have some unintended consequences that we would need to measure, but it also might have some spillover effects. There might be other benefits other than physical activity—for example, attainment or those sorts of things. So, I suppose my recommendation would be that it would be an interesting pilot before you'd look to scaling it.

Yes, because it's disturbing to see that the level of sedentariness in Wales is very, very high, so something needs to be done. 

09:50

Yes. I think the difficulty, obviously, with extending the school day is it's got so many other implications that you probably have to look at those and what the impacts are. 

Okay, thank you. So, my next question is: are there any other key changes that you'd like to see to improve physical activity levels, and do you have any examples of successful school intervention? 

So, there are clues from the system already. So, I mean, one of the challenges, I think, for Welsh Government is identifying practice that isn't going to cost a lot of additional money and the provision of resources. So, a lot of our work is tied to the Welsh network of healthy schools scheme, and the idea of the health-promoting school. So, there's an existing resource that we can look at and see where the innovation is in the system. So, the unique thing we've got in Wales is the school health research network. So, we've got every secondary school in Wales within that, and we're looking at expanding that to primary schools. Now, that gives you system information over time to identify innovation, so we can actually identify what schools are doing that's associated with improvements in physical activity.

I think the one thing that's got real promise for us is the idea of school-level, data-driven practice. So, increasingly, schools are using data to identify what the problems are and then working with school health action groups to identify solutions. So, they're sort of indigenous solutions, because one of the risks you have—and we've found that with lots of different interventions—if you parachute them in, then they don't often have a good context bit. They'll fade away or they can't be scaled and they can't be sustained. So, what's really interesting is to start looking at, 'Well, what are schools doing that really is working?' and 'How can we involve pupils and the school community—teachers, parents—in identifying and then achieving those solutions, because then they've got the buy-in?'

So, my recommendation: it would be that there's probably not a one-size-fits-all for schools, but we should be looking more at what's going on at the chalkface and identifying those things. Through that, we've identified some promising things around the use of role models with the CHARMING intervention; we've been working with Welsh local government to evaluate their school health enrichment programme, which is focused particularly on pupils from more deprived backgrounds over the holiday period, and we've also been doing some work around the daily mile and how that's implemented. So, it's trying to look at resource that's already in the system and how we can learn from that rather than trying to identify additional resource, which is always really difficult. 

Let's see if we can have the view from Southampton about key changes you'd like to see in schools to improve physical activity levels. Have you got a couple of points on that, Professor Hanson? 

Yes, thank you. Just listening to my two colleagues there, I think there's something very interesting that we're all saying, which is that, in a sense—obviously we need to promote physical activity, but the reason for doing that, underlying that from a medical point of view, is that we need to promote physical fitness, because that's the thing that will reduce risk as time goes on. If you take, let's say, a child who's a little overweight, you may be able to promote physical fitness in terms of metabolic and cardiovascular fitness in them by increasing their physical activity and reducing their sedentary time, and maybe they'll lose half an inch or something around the waist. So, as far as they're concerned and their kids and their colleagues are concerned, they're still overweight. So, I think, somehow, we're missing the need to—. As Dr Wainwright said, I think through play in particular one is able to promote physical fitness and the concepts of physical fitness, what it feels like to be fit and how you can measure your own fitness in non-pejorative ways that are not judgmental, that allow each child to attain their own levels, and which can be done through fun activities rather than necessarily organised sport, which particularly kids from deprived backgrounds may not have access to. I think that that provides a way forward. It can be built into many aspects of the curriculum, and, if it's channelled through their natural curiosity, the enquiry skills development that primary teachers in particular use in all subjects, then there are ways of absolutely permeating this through the curriculum so it just becomes part of the ethos of what schools do.

Sometimes, just targeting how many hours of activity kids have done, as Professor Murphy said, may not be helpful because, as he said—and I think the study from the west of England shows a very similar thing—the kids who are more active in school may well be less active in out-of-school hours. So, we need to be careful, I think, what our target is and, to my mind, the target is to reduce risk of obesity and these other chronic diseases and not just to increase physical activity per se. I don't know if that helps.

09:55

That is very helpful. Time is pressing, so we need to move on to another section. So, I call on Julie Morgan to ask the next few questions.

Yes, thank you very much, Chair. I wanted to cover the gender differences, which I think we've already alluded to. So, the first question I wanted to ask was really: what did you see as the main reasons for the gender differences in participation in physical activity between boys and girls? Do you want to start?

Me? Well, throughout the research in the world, we see that in those skills that I talked about—the object control skills—girls always underperform compared to boys in that, and there's no physiological reason for that. It's a socially constructed thing that girls can't—

Well, we see it in very early childhood when we test children. That gap starts to grow very quickly between how well girls throw compared to boys—and kick, et cetera. But, in very early childhood, there's no difference. There's no reason for it, but, as soon as you start testing children for it—say, six, seven, eight—you start to see that gap widening, and it widens further. It's down to opportunity and teachers or parents or practitioners ensuring children learn those skills. There's no reason why those girls can't perform those skills as well, and it's concerning when you see that they predict adolescent participation in particularly our culturally dominant sports, which require those skills. But it's a highly complex picture. For me, it's about the fact that we get the skills nailed very early on that enables girls to have the same choice of activity as boys, so that you're not restricting that right from the word 'go'. 

And, Professor Murphy, I know you've got some examples of what—

Yes. I suppose there are two things I'd point out. Certainly, the work we've done in primary schools—when you ask girls themselves, it's the lack of role models for them. So, the intervention we were doing was trying to identify those. So, it's around cultural expectations and norms of behaviour that determine what behaviour they might undertake early on. The other issue, I think, is that, particularly within schools—secondary schools—the type of opportunities that are available tend to suit boys more. So, the typical sort of PE opportunities might not be as acceptable to girls, and some of the higher levels of activity that we found for females are associated with things like active travel. So, if you encourage active travel to schools, girls benefit more from that than boys. So, it shows that, if you give them a different opportunity that's not necessarily under the typical ones, it can work.

Yes. I just wondered if you've defined 'role model' because everybody bandies that term around, and I know what my teenage daughters think of as a role model is probably not what you're thinking of as a role model.

Well, we would typically ask them who they saw as somebody who was an inspiration who they would look to to replicate either their values or behaviours more broadly, and then we would ask, just in terms of activity and particularly sporting activities, who are the people who they would aspire to. Girls were far less likely to identify somebody associated with activity or sport compared to boys, who were more readily identifying footballers, rugby players, those sorts of things.

So, would you accept a role model could also just be somebody who is perhaps not sporting, but is actually a fit, healthy-looking individual? Would that also identify as a role model for—

Yes. We looked at that because what was quite important is that a lot of those things aren't associated with sport, because those are seen by a lot of people as unobtainable, but, yes, sort of physical—. We were particularly interested in family members, because we wanted again something that was workable, so that we could work with families to identify role models that they could use as mentors as well. So, I think it links to Professor Hanson's point that these patterns of behaviour are often passed on through families because there isn't any role model within families that have got a history of physical activity. So, the pattern is passed on to subsequent children.

10:00

Thank you, Chair. I was fortunate to go to a Newport County in the Community programme at a primary school, actually, recently, and what was really interesting there is they'd said that they had a girls' football group after school. They did football for everybody first of all, but they found that very few girls were actually attending that after-school football club. But when they just did a girls' group, so many more girls got involved, and it was great to see—so, about 40 girls of all ages participating in that. I just wondered if there's any evidence to show perhaps how you can adapt that, how perhaps girls can just play football on their own, and they're more likely to do that, rather than having a broad-brush approach.

Yes, there is other evidence that shows that from examples of dance activity. So, we've been involved in some evaluations of after-school dance activities that are particularly just focused on girls, and those are more successful and come up with some really effective results. So, I'd say yes, it's definitely something you should look at. I suppose the other thing to say is that we've identified quite strong gender/inequalities interactions. So, thinking about girls as a homogenous group is probably the wrong way to—

—because girls have lower levels of activities, and they are worse in more deprived areas for those girls. So, I think the targeting should be gender specific, but also addressing those inequalities issues.

Okay. Can we have a view from Southampton? Obviously, Southampton's got an underperforming football team at the best of times, but, anyway, carry on. [Laughter.]

I was hoping you weren't going to bring that up. We have actually been working with the football club here, with our secondary schools, and I think they endorse very much what our colleagues have been saying, that this is an issue of gender role models, and the ability for girls to undertake these sporting activities, ideally, on their own. Clearly, boys and girls are very competitive. Girls, I think, tend to be more competitive at this age, certainly in the secondary years, in terms of physical appearance. So, what we're hearing is that they don't want to go out and get hot and sweaty if they're not sure that they'll have the time or the facilities to restore their hair to how they want it to look, put their make-up back on, and all the rest of it. So, in fact, there are some very simple things in terms of facilities, as well as timing in the school day, when it's possible to engage girls.

I think the other thing—. Actually, I talked to Paula Radcliffe, who lives, when she's not in Monaco, down the road from here—and she served on the World Health Organization committee—about how she encourages young people to get involved in physical activity. She said, 'Well, I don't talk about obesity and disease. I have a positive message. I say, "If you get fit, you'll look better, you'll do better in life, you'll probably earn more, you'll just have a better time. This is actually the sort of thing you want to do".' So, I think turning the coin over and getting away from the obesity and the doom and gloom message, which, from the families and the kids that we talked to, everyone's just fed up with hearing about, and turning it into a positive message about how we can all make our lives better and pass on something better to the next generation needs to be the message. You do engage girls very much with that, because, of course, even from very deprived areas—. Research of Frank Field MP here showed that, actually, one thing that young girls care about is having a healthy and happy family, perhaps generating a better home than maybe the one they've come from.

Yes, I think it was—. Are there any other examples, to finish with, that you've set up, or you know of, that we would benefit from hearing about?

Well, for me, I think the whole thing rests on a whole-school approach, in the way of the healthy schools, because virtually all the issues we've talked about here come down to whether a headteacher understands what good physical education, physical activity, health and well-being is about, or whether they don't. If they do, they value it, they make sure that their staff understand it, the school incorporates a whole-school approach, it works with parents, it listens to pupil voice, so issues of gender are addressed in terms of speaking to the pupils about what they do and don't want, the environment of the school is developed to allow physical activity, they ensure there's an environment that encourages physical activity at play times and free time. And that's so contrasting, isn't it? You can go from one school to another and see a head that gets it, and the whole school is buzzing and parents are on side, they've developed their grounds. As an example, Rebecca Evans came down to see some work in the Meads—there's a big foundation phase school down in Pembrokeshire. I know Ynystawe here, on the edge of Swansea, they're the same. They've got headteachers who are passionate about the agenda, and you don't see inactive children in those schools—you really don't. They develop their outdoor grounds. So, really, it's a message to headteachers. If headteachers understand this and value it, then they will actively engage staff who do as well, and it becomes a whole community response to the needs of that particular community, with the parents.

10:05

I'd agree with that. A health-promoting school is the key here. You can have the most innovative, exciting intervention, but if you haven't got that supportive context, then it's not going to have legs. One of the things that we've found is that the most important thing is to have a senior management buy-in to the health and well-being agenda and have somebody on the senior management team who's responsible for that. And then, from that, you get the good interventions, you get the good outcomes, both health and education.

The other thing I'd say, for schools to take this seriously, is that you need to show the relationship between health and well-being and educational outcome. Often, these things are seen as a zero-sum game—you're either doing one or the other. Where they're increasing they're using educational outcomes for health interventions. So, if you can demonstrate to schools that this is going to improve their attainment, it's much easier to get buy-in and involvement with schools.

Moving on. Jayne next. Some of the issues have been covered already, but carry on, Jayne—I'll give you the floor.

Thank you. I think you've mentioned that whole-school approach, which is really clear, but the paper from Professor Hanson states that hard-to-reach groups require particular attention. We've touched on some of them. Is there any more action, specifically, do you think that is required for those groups to improve physical activity levels?

I think some of the clues are already in the system. If you look at schools in more deprived areas and compare their activity levels to poor children in rich schools, they're much better. The worst thing you can be is a poor child in a rich school because you don't get the same school provision for that support. So, I can't answer that question at the moment, but we've got the data and we could do that for you. We can identify what those schools in the more deprived areas are doing that is associated with good outcomes. We've only just got the data for 2017 now, but we've got 120,000 pupils and every secondary school, so we'd be able to supply that shortly.

I beg your pardon, I didn't know you were—. Yes, I endorse that, and, once again, I think it comes down to finding ways that it's possible for every child to engage in this. If it's all institutionalised sport that has to be x, y or z, then you're going to leave those who are not, for various reasons, able to undertake these sports at school and certainly don't have the support outside school behind. So, it comes down to the social inequalities, the social disparities that apply to physical activity and the opportunity to have the right kind of play and to get fitter just as much as they do to other gaps in the health system.

The only other thing I would say, just building on the point that, I think, Professor Murphy made earlier on, is that it's really important that we do make this a whole-school activity, which isn't just seen as a burden to the teachers, something else they've got to do, but something that is actually going to make their schools happier and the kids easier to teach, and just generally more fun for everybody than to be in a situation where they're failing in physical terms as well as academic terms. The link between those two, as Professor Murphy said, I think, may well be absolutely critical to cracking this nut.

Just finally, obviously we've seen programmes in Wales like Communities First and the teams who've had a real impact outside of school. What would you like to see now from the Welsh Government to address some of the physical inactivity in deprived areas now that Communities First will no longer be there?

I'd like to see them fund kinesthetic instruction for preschoolers in every single foundation phase and preschool setting so that all those practitioners, teachers and parents who work with that age group know what they're doing and can lay those foundations of quality movement so children have got choices.

Good. Sounds like a recommendation and that's what we like. That's the sort of answer we want.

10:10

I've even costed it for them [Laughter.]

I'd look at the—sorry.

Less than £35 per child for every foundation phase child in Wales for three years. I sent the paper to Rebecca Evans and Kirsty Williams; they have it.

I'd look at the sustainability of the school health enrichment programme, which is currently within Wales and is being rolled out in certain areas with the Welsh Local Government Association. I know that they're struggling for funding for that at the moment. We were hoping to evaluate the next phase of it for them, but I don't think it's going to be able to happen in terms of the funding, so I would suggest looking at that.

Right. Moving on, Angela, you've got the next couple of questions that can develop themes.

Yes. To be honest with you, I think most of my questions have been answered, so I'd just like to go back to this business of a role model, because you talked about perhaps trying to find role models within the family unit.

We know that teenagers, in particular, are very susceptible to the celebrity-style role model and all that comes with it, and social media puts role model pressures on young people. So, I just wonder what your views are about how we can engage the not-currently-super-active family in this. Because, of course, we always put the pressure on schools to do everything, but ultimately our kids are at home for more time than they are at school. This particularly runs true when they hit secondary school and they have all their study periods and all the rest of it and school moves around, and if they go to college and perhaps only have a couple of hours of lectures a week. Unless they are part of a gang of people who are off playing football or doing something, how do we make people—going back to what you said earlier—fit and just understand that being fit is a lovely, natural part of the human condition? And how do we get those families involved?

The work that we've done with families in the past is always challenging, because it's hard to identify it like a delivery system to engage with those families, that's why we have a lot of school interventions, because we've got a ready-made context and delivery system. Where we have worked successfully with parents is around substance misuse, parenting programmes and those sorts of things. The only problem we have with that is around reach, so who attends it and whether they are the ones who actually really need it. So, that's always a challenge.

I suppose one of the other things that might be a way forward is learning from some of the work we've done with peer role models and peer support. We've had a very successful intervention around smoking prevention, which is called the ASSIST model—a stop smoking in schools trial—and we're now evaluating its impact on other substance misuse outcomes. Within schools, that's identifying who the important role models and influences are within people's networks, and then working with them to be champions of, for example, not smoking, and providing advice and support. Now, you could do something similar, I think, with physical activity, and the good thing about that is that, within Wales and in the south-west, and now in Scotland, you already have trained champions who have already got those skills, so what you're doing is using existing resource and opportunities to expand it to other types of health outcomes that are already in the system.

I think the peer role model sounds really clever, actually, because kids learn off each other.

We have a school structure—the young ambassadors in schools. The young ambassadors are great role models and they tend to do that much broader physical activity rather than the pure sport focus.

So, you'll probably want to pick that up with Sport Wales when you talk to them, because they've got that ambassador programme.

Yes. And it runs right through from bronze in primary school right up to gold and platinum that work, sometimes, with us in higher education, so it's a good—

I totally agree on role models, which is why we're engaging with the Saints—let's hope they stay in the premier league [Laughter.] But the only other thing to say is, I suppose, primary years, really, are the time when one can engage with parents. With our adolescents in life, like we're aware, actually, talking to their parents may well be the last thing they want to do, but in the primary years, I think you are, through the kids, able to influence the attitudes and behaviours of parents and older siblings.

I endorse the mentoring side of things. I think, where one can get older children, somehow, to think, 'Okay, I need to help the younger ones', perhaps with the training in what we call 'healthy conversations', which is just being able to talk to people about why health matters, as part of the, possibly, personal, social and health education training for the older children, that might well be a way of engaging their younger siblings too. It's complex, isn't it? But I think once we start to push this back, we'll find that there will be positive feedback. But if we can make it trendy to be fit, then we'll start to move things forward. Of course, this is where social media have enormous power as well as, potentially, providing an enormous threat.

10:15

Can I just say I think there needs to be a variety of role models, because, for some children, a sporting icon is a role model, but for some, it's the—? For a teenage, overweight girl at 14 who sees Jessica Ennis's six pack, it's, 'Well, sport is something that someone who looks like that does; that's not for me.' Whereas a young ambassador, two years above her, who might also be going through puberty but is busy engaged in lots of different physical activity, that's—. So, that very broad range of role models, I think, is really important.

The point about parental engagement is that, from schools in some really deprived areas that we work with, through the physical literacy programme, we saw that having a physical parental engagement—because, often, they say, 'You won't get any parents to come to that. They never turn up to any of the stuff we put on.' Because it's not literacy and numeracy, and these are parents often with poor literacy themselves, because it's playing with their children, we were getting 30, 40 parents turning up regularly, because they weren't threatened by it, and they were excited that they could do something they knew was going to be really beneficial for the child but wasn't threatening to them. So, that project—I know that was originally a Government-funded element of it—was, in the schools that we worked with, found to be really successful. So, hitting that very young age group of families with something not threatening, but then, I guess, having a real variety of role models as children go up through school.

Excellent. Lynne Neagle is going to wrap up this session of questioning. Lots of issues have been covered. Obviously, this is part of producing a review and we're looking into producing a set of recommendations for Welsh Government to respond positively to. So, with that framework as a background, Lynne.

I think that, obviously, you've given us a lot of ideas and things that we can take forward, but is there anything that you haven't covered that you think Welsh Government could really do to make a difference in this area? And is there anything that you feel they're notably not doing at the moment?

Well, I work a lot out in schools and the comment is always, 'If Estyn aren't inspecting it, and if pressure needs to be put on people, why get them out?' Maybe if Estyn were looking very carefully at how a health-promoting school was being run, how physical activity was valued in a school, and not just ticking off miles—. It's not just physical activity; that's just like flicking pages. It's actually the quality movement experiences for children that are part of a broad learning experience, not just sport, not just elite, but play based, cross curricular. If that was part of an Estyn inspection, I think what you would see instantly is heads sitting up and thinking, 'It's really important,' which it is.

I would agree with that. In Wales, you've got some unique opportunities for exploiting what is a really good, supportive context around health, and I think it's linking up those drivers and context to make this happen. It's physical activity, but within the idea of broader health. So, it's not just physical activity, but they sit within issues around well-being, mental health, those educational outcomes. So, Estyn has got some sort of health and well-being things that they tick, compared to England, where there isn't any of that. The Donaldson curriculum review, as well, is a great opportunity to be linking this into, and the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, as well. We are currently supplying all the schools with their health and well-being data so that they've got those indicators, and for the public services boards and those sorts of things. If we can make sure that physical activity is within there, you've got those system drivers that are going to support anything that you're going to do that might be a little bit more focused on role models and things. Just making the overall system support it, I think, is the really key thing.

I would love to see our Early LifeLab concept tried in Wales. I think there are fantastic opportunities given just the discussion we've had this morning. You've clearly got the bit between your teeth here. This is something that, again, we've costed up and it requires some continuous professional development training for teachers—the message that we were saying earlier on of engaging heads and primary teachers as a whole—and then it's something that teachers are able to deliver relatively easily and enjoy doing. It would be fantastic to test that in Wales in the way that we're testing it in Southampton.

10:20

Great, okay.

A oes unrhyw gwestiwn arall gan unrhyw un? Na, diolch yn fawr. Wel, diolch yn fawr i'r tri ohonoch chi. Dyna'r sesiwn gwestiynu ar ben. Mi fyddwch chi yn derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau'r bore yma, er mwyn ichi allu eu gwirio nhw, eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir. Ond gyda hynny o ragymadrodd, a allaf i ddiolch ichi unwaith eto am y safon arbennig o dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig rydym ni wedi ei derbyn oddi wrthych chi i gyd? Mae honno wedi bod o fudd mawr inni, felly, diolch yn fawr iawn.

A allaf i gyhoeddi i'm cyd-Aelodau y gwnawn ni gael egwyl rŵan am chwarter awr, a dod nôl yn fan hyn erbyn 10.35? Diolch yn fawr.

Any further questions from anyone? No, thank you very much. Well, thank you very much to the three of you. That's the end of our question session today. You will receive a transcript of the discussions this morning, to check for accuracy. But can I thank you once again for the excellent written evidence we received from you all? That's been tremendously useful for us. Thank you very much.

Can I tell my fellow Members that we're going to have a break now for 15 minutes and come back here by 10.35? Thank you.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:20 a 10:36.

The meeting adjourned between 10:20 and 10:36.

10:35
3. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc: Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Chwaraeon Cymru
3. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people: Evidence session with Sport Wales

Os allaf i alw'r cyfarfod i drefn, croeso yn ôl i bawb i adran ddiweddaraf cyfarfod y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Croeso yn ôl. Rydym ni wedi cyrraedd eitem 3 rŵan, a pharhad ein hymchwiliad ni i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc—sesiwn dystiolaeth rhif 3, yn wir. O'n blaenau ni mae tystion o Chwaraeon Cymru. Croeso, felly, i Sarah Powell, prif weithredwr Chwaraeon Cymru, a hefyd i Graham Williams, cyfarwyddwr ymgysylltu Chwaraeon Cymru. Croeso i'r ddau ohonoch chi. 

Diolch am bob tystiolaeth ymlaen llaw. Gyda'ch caniatâd, mae gennym ni restr o gwestiynau mewn gwahanol adrannau i wneud efo'r pwnc yma. Felly, awn ni yn syth i mewn i gwestiynu, ac mae Rhun ap Iorwerth yn mynd i ddechrau. 

If I can call the meeting to order, welcome back, everyone, to the latest section of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee meeting here in the National Assembly for Wales. Welcome back. We're now on item 3, which is the continuation of our inquiry into the physical activity of children and young people. This is evidence session no. 3, and before us we have witnesses from Sport Wales. Welcome, therefore, Sarah Powell, chief executive of Sport Wales, and Graham Williams, the director of engagement at Sport Wales. A warm welcome to you both.

Thank you for all the evidence beforehand. With your permission, we have a list of questions in various sections relating to this subject, so we'll go straight into questions, and Rhun ap Iorwerth is going to start. 

Bore da. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod atom ni. Jest cwestiwn sylfaenol i ddechrau ynglŷn â rôl Chwaraeon Cymru yn yr hyn yr ydym ni'n ei drafod. Rydym ni'n trafod trio cael strategaeth a chamau newydd i annog gweithgarwch corfforol ymysg pobl ifanc a phlant yng Nghymru. Beth ydy rôl Chwaraeon Cymru yn gwneud hynny? Ai chi a ddylai fod yn arwain ar hyn?

Good morning. Thank you very much for coming in. Just a basic question to begin with, if I may, regarding the role of Sport Wales in what we're discussing. We are looking at trying to have a strategy and new steps in place to encourage physical activity amongst children and young people in Wales. What is Sport Wales's role in that? Should you be leading on this?

Bore da, and thank you for that introductory question, because it teases out why we're here. We're very, very pleased that you're looking at this very important area of physical activity, and yes, it's absolutely crucial for Sport Wales. We recognise we're not the whole of physical activity, because that is everyday activities from gardening and people being active, travel to work, and moving more generally, but sport is a considerable contributor to the physical activity agenda, and we would want to see this taking forward lots of different ideas on how we can address physical activity in its broader sense, but how sport can play a significant part. 

Can I just stop you there for a second? I have it on good authority that Sport Wales uses the Council of Europe's definition of sport, which is

'all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental wellbeing'. 

So, we're not just talking about sport. 

No. Our role is for sport and physical recreation for the purposes of sport. So, if your purpose is to travel to work, active travel, that wouldn't come under our remit. If your purpose was activity through gardening or walking to the shops, that would be more general physical activity—important, and important to us, because the more active you are, the more likely you are to take part in sport. 

So, our role: to unite a proud sporting nation is our vision, and then we have two clear aspirations. The first is a nation of champions, and hopefully you will have seen the success of the Commonwealth Games team and Team Wales—great inspiration and role models for young people to be active in sport. And our second is around getting every child hooked on sport for life. Therefore we have prioritised young people because we believe, particularly around the prevention agenda, if we can capture young people and get them to start active, they are more likely to stay active. So, we have definitely prioritised young people in our vision, and that is an important piece for us. 

I'm just trying to pin down the difference between sport and physical activity, because this isn't an inquiry into encouraging sport necessarily; it's encouraging physical activity, and everything that you've said so far is about, you know, 'getting young people hooked on sport'. We want to get them hooked on physical activity. If that means them becoming gardeners later in life to keep up the physical activity, great, but what we need to do to get them physically active. That doesn't necessarily mean sport, and the question is: should Sport Wales still take the lead in encouraging that physical activity, even if it's not sport? 

10:40

I think the breadth of physical activity would be very difficult for Sport Wales under its current remit. If Sport Wales was to take on the wider physical activity remit, then we'd have to consider the resource, the overall organisation, but do we believe that there should be a single plan that addresses physical activity in its breadth? Yes, we do.

At the moment, we've got a number of agencies that we would want to see looking at physical activity. Sport can't do this alone—we absolutely recognise that. I think one of the key things that we'd like to see out of today is that we see transport signed up to this around active travel, we'd see the health organisations signed up to this around exercise referral, we'd see Natural Resources Wales signed up to this around the wonderful natural resources that we have and using the outdoors. This will take—and I'll use the Commonwealth Games—this will take a Team Wales approach to tackle physical activity. Sport has a vital role to play in that, particularly around the much wider active recreation. We'll give a lot of evidence today around how we've moved from maybe traditional sport and competitive sport to work with the likes of the Girl Guides, to work with the likes of StreetGames and doorstep activity.

We know that from our evidence and from the work that we've been doing, particularly young girls want to do more social activity. They want to do it with their friends, and they don't necessarily want to do it around sport. They want to turn up and have fun, friendship and chat. The fact they're doing it in sport is not the driver for why they've done it. So, hopefully that gives you an intro into Sport Wales and our—. 

And just around investment, we invest around £26 million per annum into both of our areas and through our partners, and 75 per cent of that goes into community activity, and actually 60 per cent of that goes into young people. So, we absolutely prioritise our investment into the young people agenda. 

Yes, and how much of that or how is a portion of that aimed at those people who haven't or wouldn't otherwise be involved in physical activity, i.e. getting those people who would be sedentary off their behinds and actually being physically active? And how much is reserved, really, for those who are naturally inclined to be physically active?

It's a mix. I think we recognise we need to maintain those who may feel they want to be active, so we don't want them to drop out. We certainly also recognise that those who are really not able, maybe, to engage in sport as their first step, Sport Wales may not be the right solution. So, we've tried to work with others, so Public Health Wales is an example that we are now working much closer with. But a lot of our work has moved, as I say, to people like StreetGames who connect into communities in a different way, and we've worked with the Girl Guides, as I mentioned earlier. And similarly, we've been challenging the sports—traditional sports like rugby and football—to really change their offer to a more recreational offer that people can connect into, less competitive and more around mass numbers. And things like park run, family park runs, family engagement are very, very important. Sorry, Graham, you may wish to give an example of some of the work. 

So, maybe just picking up on some of the work that we've done in and around the school, and perhaps a local example, actually, in terms of how we can empower and engage young people. So, our young ambassador movement across Wales—we've got 3,500 young ambassadors. It's positive to see in terms of the gender balance that that is equally split.

One of the challenges in Ysgol David Hughes was that the facility was open during the week, but at weekends the young people wanted to access those facilities. They felt price was a barrier, and actually working with the school and working with the local authority leisure department, they've managed to open up that building, which is fantastic to see. We've got limited assets in Wales, and therefore the assets we've got we need to make sure we maximise their use. They've introduced some direct debit-type membership, which means that they can access the whole range of facilities at an affordable cost and, importantly, it's local to them, because I think in terms of building routine activity into young people's lives, it's got to be accessible, it's got to be fun and it's got to be enjoyable. And actually, if we can engage with those young people around the types of opportunities that are there and empower them locally, it's a really good example of how we can engage people to start a journey to stay active for life. 

I was handing out awards at the young ambassadors awards ceremony a few weeks ago, and Barry and the team are doing a cracking job on Anglesey. I'm interested in the ones that aren't involved in the ambassador scheme and the ones that wouldn't go to the leisure centre in Ysgol David Hughes, even if it was free and open 24 hours a day. It's getting those people involved. One of the things that's come to our attention is the lack of a benchmarking for physical fitness in Wales. Do you consider yourselves to have a role in making the nation more fit, and how useful would having, if you like, a measure, a benchmark, for physical fitness in Wales, driving that fitness level up, if that makes sense?

10:45

It does make sense. This is a really difficult one, I think. If we get into fitness measures, I think we're in danger of not listening to the evidence that we've had from young people, which is really where physical literacy comes in, and I know you'll have had evidence around physical literacy today, because the motivation of young people is absolutely crucial, developing their confidence, because these are the stages that will enable them to become active. And, actually, if we lose that motivation and we don't build the confidence, they are less likely to become physically fit or physically active. So, I think it's physical literacy, holistic approach to looking at a child's experience, their mental well-being, whether they enjoy it, whether they feel confident, as well as some of the physical competency measures—it's a much more holistic measure. 

I think if we just go down fitness, which is important, we'll end up maybe with, dare I say it, statistic tables and actually putting off young people. We were talking about something earlier, and, actually, it would be like doing your maths exam in front of everybody and having to tell everybody what your exams results are and how you thought about it. We don't want that in public. What we tend to do with physical fitness is we put somebody in public and then tell them to go and run up and down and everybody watch them, and then we report their score. I think we need to be very careful around that. We need to develop physical fitness and we need to develop a holistic approach to young people. Confidence and motivation are very, very important in that. Understanding why physical fitness is important for life, and that understanding piece is there as well.

Thank you. I wanted to ask about the gender gap in participation in sport, physical activity, and whether you could tell us of any examples, or things that you're doing to try to make that gap smaller.

Thank you. It's a very frustrating gap for us, I have to say—a stubborn gap. There are some pleasing results in terms of that we have seen in our statistics around the 48 per cent of young people who are active five sessions per week that girls and boys have both increased. But what we haven't done is broken down the gap between the girls and the boys. What are we doing about it? We're taking a multi-layered approach, and I think, from our perspective, that is making a difference because we have national schemes that are across all schools. We also have regional schemes and we also have local schemes. But if I take some of the issues from our research that we found out around girls in particular, it is around that motivation and confidence. So, boys, from our statistics, are much more confident at both primary and secondary age in taking part in physical activity. They also enjoy sport much more at both primary and secondary level. So, those are the things that we've got to think about. 

So, what we've looked at from StreetGames's research is around how we motivate young girls. And that is around friends, that is around actually not necessarily talking about sport, but talking about, going and doing activity with friends. So, it's much more about social activities. And taking that on board, we've launched last year Our Squad. You may have seen it—it's an online social media platform that is empowering women to empower other women, which is very important. It is about role models of women encouraging other women. We haven't controlled it. We've allowed women to own it. And what we've found is that, now, those women are taking that on, and developing their own platforms to encourage other girls to get involved. We've also done a lot of work with—I mentioned StreetGames and Girl Guides. So, we're targeting our investment to where we know we will have girls involved. The Us Girls campaign, which is run by StreetGames, is very much similar. So, we've got schemes in Caerphilly, Bridgend, north Wales, and there's something called Big Sisters, where, again, it's sisters providing support to other sisters. And I think that is really making a difference for us. Graham may like to give some examples. 

There's a really nice example in Merthyr. We've got a campaign that's called Merthyr Girls Can, based on some of our school sport survey evidence that we developed through 2011, 2013 and 2015, understanding that there was a participation gap in terms of girls' participation. It's a really targeted approach to ensure that, firstly, the girls are engaged in determining the type of activity that was on offer, when that activity took place, how it was delivered, and a really great engagement. I've got a little bit of a quote here that's just from one of the participants:

'The impact of Merthyr Girls has been massive. Not only for the girls' physical health, but for their social and mental well-being. It has become a network of parents and families that want to be involved. Girls who originally started in Merthyr Girls are now involved in leadership opportunities—Duke of Edinburgh'.

So, it can, in the right environment, working with young girls, create a platform for not only interactivity, but broader things—Duke of Edinburgh and wider leadership roles. I think the critical point around this is that it's not about supplying activity; it's actually making sure that there's an engagement process, so that we provide the right opportunities in those local communities—that the girls feel that they're empowered to own and develop and shape and change, as the programme moves forward. It's a really nice example of the type of work that we're asking all our local authority colleagues—so, in all our work, there is a focus around: what are we doing to tackle that inequality gap? It is a stubborn gap, but we've got many really good local examples, where they're starting to make inroads and people feel that they own the activity that's being delivered.

10:50

These activities—they sound great. So, do you see that gap being narrowed? I mean, you said it's—

—it's a stubborn gap and it's great that involvement is increasing, but in terms of trying to narrow the gap—.

My honest answer is that I think it's going to take time. It's going to take long-term commitment. The simple answer is to reduce the boys, but we don't want to do that.

We are really challenging maybe traditional sports as being seen as male-only sports. You will have seen some fantastic figures around rugby and football in particular—football is probably one of the fastest growing for girls in Wales, because they've changed the offer. We've taken some best-practice examples from UEFA. They've got a really good, social campaign around #WePlayStrong at the moment, and I would recommend having a look at it, because it's really tapping into a different motivation. We're talking to the Welsh Rugby Union—Ryan Jones there, who's saying that we must not mirror the boys' game and that we must do a different game for the girls, and we must think about the lessons learnt from the men's game. So, I can't say that we will do it quickly, but, actually, our resources need to be targeted and it needs to be for the long term.

Maybe this is a slightly tangential connection to this, but we need more female role models at all levels. So, I know we're talking about young girls, but, actually, women in sport being high-profile role models, and parents seeing that. We're talking to the media around how they profile women, not just every four years, when they're winning fantastic medals—and the women did win more than the men at the games—but how we give the back stories and enable role models at all levels, of all shapes and sizes and of all abilities. Things like Gareth Thomas: Alfie's Angels was a really good example of storytelling, but we need that for girls as well.

Yes, this idea of some sports being male and some female—we've had evidence to say that that shouldn't be happening. How can you move away from that? Because when you talk about Wales as a sporting nation, I think people think about the Welsh male rugby team. How do we ever get away from that?

I think that has a lot to do with media coverage. People talk about what they see and, actually, they don't see enough female sport. We've got some fantastic netball out there that is at world-class level. It's great for England to beat Australia, but that's important for netball across Wales, and we have lots of good activity, but we do need the media to profile women and to demonstrate the great sporting activities that are going on there, otherwise, we're not going to be able to change the narrative. So, we are working very closely, and I think there is a challenge back to the media around how they are going to profile and demonstrate the great stories around women to shift that narrative.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Good morning. Bore da. My questions are twofold, really: following the evaluation of the physical literacy programme for schools, which highlighted many improvements in young people's physical, social and emotional development, as well as development in their engagement at school, attendance and behaviour—and key stage 3 physical education attainment levels increased, albeit in 14 years, but from 61 per cent to 91 per cent—. We've also heard endorsement of the successful kinesthetic instruction for preschoolers, the SKIP programme. So, first of all, can you tell me what follows on from the evaluation, and what are your plans for funding the kinesthetic instruction for preschoolers, please? Thank you.

10:55

It's great to hear the success of the scheme. It has been a 14-year journey of investment, and an education investment. Unfortunately, that investment from education ceased, which does leave us with a gap around that education piece. But in terms of a positive, we have a fantastic opportunity here now in Wales with the new curriculum being developed, and our ask is that the new curriculum will have physical literacy at the heart of it.

You may know Tanni Grey-Thompson, probably seven or eight years ago, put forward one recommendation around schools that physical literacy should become a core subject. The Welsh health organisation has just stated that attitudes to physical activity in schools has to change and it has to be the same as academic attainment. I think we are at a cusp. We're probably at the edge of a cliff with children's obesity and the role of schools, and I think we need to see the new curriculum putting physical literacy at its heart. And that's not just around the two hours of PE, it's around an active environment too, during and after school.

We would also recommend around pedagogy, so the teaching and the initial teacher training needs to build the confidence of teachers around what physical literacy means in the class, but not just for PE but for the whole-school approach. So, there are a number of things that we would like to see and we do genuinely believe there's an opportunity now with the new curriculum and our role is to support that. We've developed an online programme through the physical literacy journey, which is around the how and the what. It is aligned to 'Successful Futures', the new curriculum. It is there as a resource for all schools. We're not aware that all schools are using it. We have promoted it and we have put it out there, but we would really like to see physical literacy and the learning that we've had over the 14 years incorporated into the new curriculum.

Okay. So, how can we make—? Because, obviously, it's got major benefits, hasn't it, in the classroom—the attention span and so on? So, how can we develop, how can we show schools that this is so very important? How can we go out and promote this?

I think one way that we could do it is setting up some experts in the field that could work across hub schools—so we're not talking about somebody being in every school. We recognise that there needs to be those experts and those advocates working across a range of schools, at both primary and secondary, being able to support and implement alongside the teachers who are already there. So, we did have that. We don't have that now—I think that's because of the transition into the new curriculum, but we would hope to see, as part of the new curriculum and 'Successful Futures', that a group of experts in physical literacy is available across the whole of Wales.

Okay, thank you for answering that. My next question is quite brief, really. You've spoken about the importance of the role the parents play, and I note that you've made resources available to bring the parents actively involved. I wonder how much take-up have you had in Wales from parents regarding the use of these resources.

I don't know the take-up—I look at my colleague, if he does know—but we do know the role of parents is vitally important, and we've provided resources for parents. How that is being utilised is something that we need to consider. One of the things we have been working with is Public Health Wales, around actually how we make sure, at the earliest intervention, when your health visitors are going when people are pregnant, that you are talking to them around the physical side as well as the other aspects. 

So, when would there be, would you suspect, data available on the take-up of this offer regarding resources in physical literacy for parents? When do you think there will be data available to measure the success?

Well, at the moment, we're out looking at our review of our school sport survey. That is out at the moment within the schools. I'd have to check to see whether that is going to cover parents and their usage of that. I'm not sure, so I'd have to go back and check that. I don't know if you—

I think that's right. To make sure we give you the correct information, I think it's probably best that we go back and just revisit that.

Yes, that's fine. Thank you very much. As a former PE teacher I'm very interested in this development. Thank you very much. 

11:00

Thank you, Chair. We've been hearing what you feel is needed to change in schools to improve physical activity levels. I presume you've told the Welsh Government that on more than one occasion. I'm just wondering what the response has been so far from Welsh Government. 

Very positive. We've had good meetings with Kirsty Williams, education Minister, and as I've already alluded to, she is very keen that this is at the heart of the new curriculum. We are having active conversations with the team that are developing the areas of learning and experience. This will come under 'healthy and confident', which we think is appropriate. This is about health and confidence, so it's about mental well-being as well as the physical. So, the conversations are positive around the new curriculum. The challenge is how that is then implemented, and as I alluded to, it can't just be in the curriculum; we need to provide the support and the guidance to the schools prior to the launch of the new curriculum. So, I think there is a critical time period now up to the launch where we need to develop the right skills and confidence within the teachers. The Furlong report reported back around initial teacher training—that will be vital, so working with colleges and universities around the initial teacher training so that they're able and confident to actually implement physical literacy. What we don't want is teachers seeing physical literacy within the curriculum but not being able then to take that forward.

Could I just add one more element around schools? We've been out having a national conversation, you may be aware, around the future of sport in Wales. One of the things we've heard loud and clear is both some really positive examples—and I'm sure Graham will be able to allude to that—and maybe some more difficult examples around access to school facilities. This is another very important point for us, because local access has come up a lot. Children will only really make that step if it is local. There's the frustration of seeing school gates closed at 3 p.m. and walking past some of the new, fantastic facilities we're seeing through the twenty-first century schools investment, which we think is very, very positive, but if we can't gain access and local communities can't gain access to those schools, we're missing an opportunity. 

We think schools are key to the future of physical activity for young people because it removes inequalities. Once you lose those children from the school environment, then it comes into factors around: have they got a car, have they got access to transport, have they got access to additional funding? If we can have an enhanced school day—we've been talking about an extended school day or an enhanced school day, which enables children to stay on and enjoy sporting activities, cultural activities, art activities—it is that rounded piece that we want. To keep them until 5 o'clock, 5.30 p.m. when parents may be more appropriate to come and collect them, would be something we would really advocate. We've heard some feedback around, 'Well, where would the workforce come from?' Well, we've got a young ambassador programme, we've got NEETs, we've got a number of schemes that would enable us to access a workforce that could come in and work within those school environments. That would be one of our big calls as well. 

I just wondered if you'd asked the Cabinet Secretary about the community-focused schools issue and getting kids into school and what her attitude to that was. 

We're now part of that working group. We weren't previously. So, we're now on a working group and we're actually—. Maybe one of the barriers, but one of the partners that we needed to work with to understand was the governors. So, actually the governors to the school was actually where we were finding maybe some of the conversations hadn't worked. We recognise, for the governors, they need to look after the school—they've got an investment, they've got a business to run, let's say; it's more of a business now. So, actually working with the governors, and we're now on the working group, and I met the chair of the governors committee probably about three weeks ago to talk around, 'How do we work with you to actually see this as a partnership?', not as a difficulty of them coming in or coming out. 

Brilliant. Thank you, Chair. Sorry—did you want to give some examples?

I'm happy to if you think that would be helpful. I think the example we gave in terms of Ysgol David Hughes is a really great example. 

That's fine. I just thought you wanted to come in. The other point I wanted to raise is around funding. We've had some concerns raised in written evidence about your funding criteria, with one-year funding streams making long-term planning difficult, amongst others. Do you have any plans to change the funding criterion streams? 

11:05

Unfortunately, it's not within our gift, so it is based on the one-year funding that we get from the Welsh Government. But very good news is that they have told us that they will be looking at longer term funding agreements in line with Government funding, so, that is a real positive for us. What we do do is provide indicative long-term funding, so we will give up to four years' indicative funding, but we do recognise that that is always with a caveat. So, it's still very difficult for partners to be able to long-term plan. And we recognise that that's an issue, but we have had very positive conversations now that our remit letter will take forward a longer term funding programme.

Thank you. You say in your written evidence that physical activity is a cross-governmental agenda and that it would benefit from a better co-ordinated and integrated approach. Could you expand on that point, please?

Like I mentioned at the beginning, actually, if we're going to get young people or the nation more physically active, it will take a cross-Government commitment to this. And I think that is recognised in 'Prosperity for All'—they talk about a healthy and active nation. But I think what we would be looking for in a step further is one very clear plan—that all Government departments are clear around their alignment to that single goal around physical activity. So, there is a line of accountability for clear actions, and also that we identify a clear resource that is alongside that. We recognise that new resource is difficult in these times, but aligning resource to how we are all tackling physical activity and clearly setting that out in a long-term plan that can be reported against, not lost within wider plans, I think would take us a step further to really showing how we are addressing physical activity. We're doing some very good work with Public Health Wales at the moment. Graham has been leading on that, so I'm sure he can talk through that a little bit more. But we recognise that it's more than just public health. Education, as we've already alluded to, is vital in this. There's transport, if we want everybody cycling—a cycling nation, enjoying our wonderful outdoors—we need Natural Resources Wales, we need the economy and transport involved in that. But if we just highlight some of the work with Public Health Wales.

Indeed. So, some of the positive work that we've been co-ordinating across Public Health Wales and Natural Resources Wales is this collective effort around physical activity. I don't think one organisation can deliver this. It's certainly broader than those three organisations, but we do feel that we've got a collective leadership role to play. So, our work in terms of developing a joint action plan will be signed off by each respective board—very soon, actually. So, there's been some really positive discussion that builds on some work we did around 'Getting Wales Moving', which was a previous collaborative approach, but actually setting out respective roles and responsibilities around the physical activity spectrum: what's the role of sport, what's the role of our public health colleagues, what's the role of health boards in terms of that early prevention agenda and how can we work with Natural Resources Wales around a built natural environment that makes sure that we can maximise those local resources?

It's pleasing to note that within—. The plan's in draft at the moment, so there's more work to be done on it, but there's a strong focus around young people and it reflects some of the comments that we heard today—so, the importance of early years and, actually, how we have a co-ordinated approach there, the importance of physical literacy, the importance of school, and also how can we ensure that we give young people the right skills, confidence and motivation so that they have the right early experiences so that whatever their journey is though being active in that sport, or broader than that, that they've got the wherewithal to continue into that. So, we hope that not only will it be an action plan on paper, but actually the purpose of that action plan is to really drive some activity collaboratively across those organisations so that we can make sure that we can have a step change in terms of activity levels and involve local partners, national partners such as Sustrans or whoever we might need, to embrace this whole collective approach across the physical activity spectrum. But there are some positives. I don't think it's about just waiting for others. We are trying to, in a collective sense, take a number of key national organisations together to address this physical activity agenda.

Okay. Because we've heard comments about a lack of collaboration between Sport Wales, the NHS and Public Health Wales. Is that not something that you recognise, then?

I think we would all recognise that that collaboration needs to improve, and I think part of the work that we're seeking to do will allow us to do that. I think we've really got to define our respective roles across that activity spectrum. I think that, perhaps, some of the frustration from some of the sports sector has been that we feel that we can effectively contribute not only to an activity agenda but a health prevention agenda. I'm not sure whether that case has been won yet; therefore, we've got a number of really exciting demonstration projects. I know you're going to hear from Disability Sport Wales after us. There's a really exciting programme—they're working in partnership with the Betsi Cadwaladr health board. It really shows the collective effort, when we've put those things together—what we can do for local citizens, in north Wales in this example. My view would be that there's much more to be done. I would hope that this joint action plan becomes the framework to remove some of those frustrations that it's not quite joined up enough.

11:10

Could I just follow up—? Sorry to interrupt. There are some really good examples in England that I think we could learn from around how Public Health England, Sport England, local authorities and national governing bodies are using collective resource. I think at the moment that public health resource tends to go into not necessarily the prevention agenda. Maybe there is an opportunity to look at some of that investment actually going into the proactive and the prevention. What we believe we have is a very good delivery mechanism, through the national governing bodies and through our partners. We're in near enough every school in Wales and we have networks of delivery. So, through our investment, we are a delivery agency. Maybe that's something that we could consider around how we make that delivery become more of a focus. 

Okay. What's your relationship with Sport England like? You decided to have a different campaign to the This Girl Can campaign in England—you had the Our Squad campaign. Why was that, and why didn't you just work with the English campaign?

A couple of reasons. We looked at This Girl Can—a very successful campaign, but also a very expensively resourced campaign. What we looked at in Wales was we went out and talked to a number of our partners, particularly around some of the StreetGames and some of the people who were working at community level, to look at whether this would work in Wales—what was the feedback? The feedback, actually, was around, 'We really like the empowerment, we like the platform and we like the way it's working, but we don't like the title'. They found that because it focused on girls, they didn't like This Girl Can, and they actually wanted it to be more around a generic—they didn't feel that they wanted to be labelled as just 'girls can', so they wanted it to be about 'our squad' and they wanted boys involved if they wanted to be involved. So, they didn't actually want it to be just around the female, and that's why they came up with the Our Squad title.

Doesn't that defeat the object of it? The whole point of it was to tackle the fact that we don't have enough girls and women involved in sport. Doesn't that just undermine the whole thing?

What we're trying to do is involve the people actually who are owning the programme. It is their programme, and they actually came up with the title. They wanted it to be about women and girls, but they wanted it to be called Our Squad. Actually, this was about taking on board the well-being of future generations, around involving and listening. This has been very much developed by the girls and the women of Wales to be their programme. They wanted it to be a Welsh programme and to have a Welsh feel to it. You'll see a lot of the materials are very Welsh and, again, that was driven by the people who have designed it and developed it for women. So, I can take back the feedback, but it wasn't developed by Sport Wales, it was actually developed by the women of Wales and the girls of Wales. We haven't had any negative feedback, actually. It's been growing and growing—you may have some of the figures there.

Yes, just in terms of the Our Squad films—36,000 views to date. So, there is a reach. I think there's more to do around that work—I think we recognise that—in just talking about connecting it into this whole approach to media. We've got to raise the profile and we've got to be able to show the imagery in a way that really connects with women and girls, and that shows in the right way that they can connect in with, 'That activity's for me'—that it's not something that's out of reach.

Yes, certainly. Public Health Wales has agreed with the recent Active Healthy Kids Wales report that policy has not resulted in an increase in physical activity over the past decade. I just wondered what your views were. 

It's an interesting one. Actually, there is a point around the collection of data, I think, that needs to be considered. We're a provider of official statistics. As you may be aware, we run one of the world-leading school sports surveys and 116,000 young people have fed back into that over a number of years. Actually, our figures in 2015 showed an increase from 2011 of 40 per cent up to 48 per cent, so, actually, in our statistics—. But we're not measuring the same things. Similarly, we're not—the scale and size of ours is significantly greater than Public Health Wales. But I'm not here to pitch them against each other. I think the issue for us and the committee is around: is there a point in having one survey? Should we—? The children's commissioner surveys, we survey, public health survey: should there be one survey where we look at all children's activity, and should it be consistently measured? Are we, against the chief medical officer—? We have our own measure of 'hooked'—five sessions—so, it's quite an ambition, quite an ambitious target. So, I think there's something around: do we need to consider one single survey for young people, and how do we consistently measure against that and what are we measuring to be able to benchmark and be able to consider—? It's difficult for committees when they have a variety of different statistics telling them different things, but we're actually measuring different things in different methodologies, and we would recognise that's probably not good for Wales. 

11:15

And do you think that these surveys actually have enough reach that they get out there to measure the people who ultimately really need surveying and understanding? 

Well, I think that's why we've targeted ours through all the schools, because 116,000—I think it was over 1,000 schools that were involved in that. So, we believe our reach is significant and it is a part of our official statistics, so we have to abide by the code of conduct around that. So, we believe our data is very robust. We continually improve it; we've actually just started our school sport survey now for 2018, taking on board feedback from the 2015 survey. So, again, it will be interesting to see how far that goes. I think there's a recognition it's going to be difficult to keep pushing those figures up, but something around one survey and a consistent measure would be useful.

Yes. My final question is—you alluded to it earlier, actually, and I share your frustration—about seeing these nice, shiny facilities in schools locked away at 3:30 p.m. and unable to be accessed. How do you feel about, or what's your response to, the Public Accounts Committee's recommendation that, actually, part of your role should be to protect public assets and access to public assets—and I guess by that they mean more than just schools; they're talking about playing fields and leisure facilities in councils—that somebody there needs to make sure that they are being used, that they are accessible, that the fees aren't astronomical? Because that's another big concern, that especially junior fees and for junior squads and things like that to use public, council-owned land, they're being hiked up all the time—and not just junior people; I've had my local bowling club raise serious concerns because that's been knocked out of the park for them, and, again, that's physical activity. I just wondered what your view is on your role to make sure that there isn't this collapse of public facilities.

I think we can make recommendations, but, unfortunately, it's not within our gift. Local authorities set their own costs and fees. I think we can work with local authorities and work with partners to make it—. The last thing we want is fantastic facilities that aren't being used because of cost. Again, when we went out as part of the national conversation, we've had feedback that low-cost, local, accessible is very important. They recognise no-cost is not acceptable because we need sustainable facilities as well, but the low-cost issue—. And I think those that have really embraced different models, so, 'Where can we charge?' and 'Where should we have low cost?' so we've got a differentiated price package, I think they will find better usage. I think it is a real challenge. I think we need to work closer with local authorities around their pricing policies and monitor the implementation of that. I think local authorities have a responsibility to report back on the impact of any price changes. I would also add that they should report back on the usage of those facilities. So, if we've invested in new facilities, are they being used, and how efficiently are they being used? Our role's quite a difficult one at the moment. We're sort of to the side. I think we can look in and monitor. We certainly monitor when we invest. So, we've invested in a number of 3G facilities. Where we have invested, we can set the criteria, we can have discussions around the pricing policy. But, where we don't invest, it's quite difficult for us. Graham.

It's a really important area we are seeking to influence as best we can. So, two years ago, we developed the blueprint for facilities for future generations, which really encouraged local government and others to set out long-term plans for facilities to understand what they need and in what communities. We do have an arrangement in place where we comment on any particular planning changes or loss of facilities—

11:20

I was just about to ask you about planning. What impact do you have on the planning?

We are a statutory consultee on any planning changes around playing pitches and so on, and we have a mechanism in place, working in partnership with Fields in Trust, to ensure that we do whatever we can to protect and enhance those facilities. There are a number of things that we're seeking to do. We've recently developed some information around effective asset transfer. I think it's recognised that perhaps, in terms of local authorities, there are challenges for them to sustain some of those services and facilities that they've previously been able to offer, and therefore making sure the asset transfer is done in an appropriate way that ensures that the asset is there for the community for many, many years to come, and the transfer, in the first instance, is done in the right way there—they're the types of things that we seek to influence and support. But I think Sarah's point is right, that, whilst the notion of protect, we would subscribe—we'll do all we can, but there is a limit because, technically, we don't own these facilities. Therefore, it's more of an influence and an advocacy role around making sure that others that are responsible for them do take a long-term view, and, actually, recognising the short-term funding challenges that may exist, we do all that we can to preserve the facilities in the right locations.

Could I just add to the facilities discussion? One of the areas that we're very keen on is that we don't necessarily just build stand-alone facilities now, that they are multi-use, multi-sport, but also multi-public sector. So, we've got some examples of libraries with leisure centres. I think that is the way forward, and, particularly for sport, we wouldn't want to see single-use clubs. We'd want to see multi-sport clubs, which we've seen in Europe a lot, and that's a much more sustainable model— similarly, opening up the school facilities and then having clubs to be based at the school. I think we just need a different strategy and a different approach to facilities in the long term.

Grêt. Diolch yn fawr. Dyna ddiwedd y sesiwn. Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am eich tystiolaeth ac am eich presenoldeb y bore yma. Mi fyddwch chi yn derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r cyfarfod yma—o'r trafodaethau—i gadarnhau eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir, ond, gyda hynny, diolch yn fawr i chi. Gallaf gyhoeddi i'm cyd-Aelodau y cawn ni doriad byr o ryw bum munud rwan er mwyn cael y tystion nesaf i fewn. Diolch yn fawr, a diolch yn fawr i chi.

Thank you very much. That's the end of the session. Thank you very much for your evidence and for attending this morning. You will receive a transcript of this meeting—of the proceedings—to confirm that they're factually accurate. So, with those few words, thank you very much. I can announce that we'll have a short break now of about five minutes so that we can get the next witnesses in. Thank you very much.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:22 ac 11:28.

The meeting adjourned between 11:22 and 11:28.

11:25
4. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc: Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru
4. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people: Evidence session with Disability Sport Wales

Croeso nôl, felly, i'r adran ddiweddaraf o gyfarfod y bore yma o'r Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Rŷm ni wedi cyrraedd eitem 4 ar yr agenda rŵan, a pharhad ein hymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc. Hon ydy sesiwn dystiolaeth rhif 4.

O'n blaenau mae tystion o Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru. Felly, mae'n bleser i groesawu Fiona Reid, prif weithredwr Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru, a hefyd Michelle Daltry, rheolwr partneriaeth Chwaraeon Anabledd Cymru. Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am eich tystiolaeth ysgrifenedig fendigedig rŷm ni wedi'i derbyn ymlaen llaw, ac, yn seiliedig ar honno, a pheth wmbreth mawr o dystiolaeth eraill rŷm ni wedi'i chael, mae yna gwestiynau gyda ni eisoes. Gyda'ch caniatâd, awn ni'n syth mewn i gwestiynau, yn ôl ein harfer. Julie Morgan sydd yn mynd i ddechrau.

Welcome back to the latest part of the meeting this morning of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee here at the National Assembly for Wales. We have reached item 4 on the agenda, which is a continuation of our inquiry into physical activity of children and young people. This is evidence session 4.

Before us we have witnesses from Disability Sport Wales. I'm pleased to welcome Fiona Reid, chief executive officer, Disability Sport Wales, and also Michelle Daltry, partnership manager, Disability Sport Wales. Thank you very much for your written evidence, which was excellent. Based on that, and some other issues we've had from other evidence, we have some questions for you. So, if you're happy, we'll go straight into those questions. Julie Morgan is going to start.

Diolch. Bore da. I wondered if we could start off by talking about what you see are the main barriers for disabled children getting involved in sport and getting physically active, and what's the best way to tackle them.

First of all, thank you for the opportunity this morning. I think there are many reasons why children with impairment aren't active, or aren't as active, as their non-disabled peers. I think some of it centres around access to opportunity within the school. Some of it links through to perceptions of what's available, awareness of what's available knowledge, et cetera. I think some of it is around their knowledge and awareness about what they can do and how they can engage fully, both in terms of just being active within their community environment as well as having the opportunity to play sport if that's what they want to do. So, I think there are two elements, really, around it, but it's multifaceted. I think that, if we can crack the inclusive nature of school provision, then that will make a significant difference.

11:30

I think there has been a vast improvement in the provision and the prevalence of genuinely inclusive and positive opportunities for disabled children. I think that we are beginning to get to a point where it's becoming the normal. I think the challenges are now reaching those harder-to-reach communities and ensuring that every child is given those opportunities. So, for families who have got sporty parents or networks around them, they probably have a stronger chance of finding their way into a club, or parents who may push for them to have a genuinely positive experience in PE. But for parents and families who are not the sporty type—whatever that actually means—they may find it more difficult to find ways into pathways. We still get daily phone calls from families and parents saying, 'Where can my child go and learn to swim?' as an example. That should be a normal parent experience, where you just know that it's probably a leisure centre and you can go and access an opportunity, not 'Would it be okay if my child goes to those swimming sessions?' So, those are some of those experiential and perception issues that we still need to work on.

Yes. So, when you say that things have improved, do you think, taking that particular example, that more families would go now straight to a leisure centre without querying whether their child could swim there or not, whatever the disability?

I think we're beginning to get there. I think that more families are beginning to have that expectation. Colleagues in Ceredigion made a really good analogy to the introduction of the Welsh language policy, in that as soon as the policy was introduced in Ceredigion, there were more complaints from people who expected things to be in Welsh. And, actually, that's the way it should be. There should be an expectation. And the more families we've got saying, 'Where do I get?', 'How can I get?', 'I really want those' helps us to go and lobby and increase the demand and need for sport and physical activity.

I think we're seeing an increase in participation opportunities and that those participation opportunities aren't just provided by the Disability Sport Wales offices, but are being provided through national governing bodies of sport, local authorities, et cetera. So, the 1.45 million participation opportunities that we recorded last year, that's going to continue to grow. We are just refining our key performance indicators data from 2016-17, and we're hoping that we'll see an increase in that. So, I think there's a growing expectation, a growing provision, which is enabling people to have that, 'I can', but I still think that there are more improvements that we can make as a sector, not just within disability sport but as a sector, around making sure that people know that they can go and do stuff within their communities, whether that's swimming or whether that's just getting out and being active in the environment as well.

And what about schools? What do you think could be done in schools to make disabled children be more active in their schools and have access to opportunities?

I think some of that comes down to perception and readiness as well as the workforce. We do quite a lot of work around that. We know that, certainly within the primary sector, teachers get only a small proportion of their teacher training allocated to sport and understanding how to deliver PE. With an ever increasing workload for teachers, provision of extracurricular activity, their awareness of what's going on outside of the school in the local community is also going to be a factor. So, I think what we're doing is making sure that we support around the higher education sector in terms of where initial teacher training is being provided, where PGCEs are being provided, that we fit in with that provision and say, 'This is what inclusive provision looks like.' Teachers are very good at focusing on the children and what children need, but they're often still a little fearful about, 'Okay, well, what's the implication if I've got a child with an impairment in my class, how does that then impact on me including them but also the other children who may not have an impairment and including them?'

We do a mini DIT, which is mini disability inclusion training, which is actually aimed at the children, because the children are very, very good, often, at recognising what their friends and their peers can do. So it's using them, almost, to educate and support their teachers in creating a really fantastic and positive PE opportunity and environment through the kids' knowledge as well as the teachers' knowledge. Because we're continually trying to identify to them that, 'You've got the toolkit, it's having the confidence to apply it.' So, it's supporting the knowledge that is there and raising confidence in that, 'You can do this.' We can support around awareness, with some of the equipment that might be in the schools and some of the access. I think there's a big piece around play and the play facilities, physical literacy and making sure that everything we do around physical literacy and that physical literacy journey is also inclusive of disabled children, because that's really important too.

11:35

And how much are you able to reach out to schools? You know, this training that you've done with children, how many schools? I mean, what percentage of schools would've had that training?

It depends on the locality, really. In Anglesey, Ynys Môn, for example, the vast majority of the primary schools have had classes and their years 4, 5 and 6 groups do the mini DIT, which has been fantastic. The same in the Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr and Monmouth. They've all started using mini DIT and we're trying to utilise the young ambassador network within Wales to deliver that. We've got the tutor network, which delivers UK disability inclusion training and Sainsbury's Active Kids for all training, which is aimed at older, 14 plus and teachers for the Sainsbury's Active Kids for all stuff, but in terms of percentages, it's a growing percentage and one that is gaining credibility. I think the teachers are feeding back and saying, 'Actually, I didn't know a lot of this stuff, so can we now access something that's going to help us know a little more about how we create an inclusive PE session, et cetera?'

Yes, that would be the ideal. We're doing some exploratory work with Sport Leaders UK, because they've got their PlayMaker programme, which is, again, aimed at a similar age group, at years 4, 5 and 6. So, we see the two things working really well together. The children are going to be encouraging their younger peers to be active, so let's make sure they understand how to ensure that the disabled children within that mainstream environment are active as well and included.

So, it's continually collaborating with other organisations that are making inroads within education, where, perhaps, we haven't had a specific role, previously. But, with the change in Sport Wales's position and the PE school sport and physical literacy aspect changing as well, it's how we then support Sport Wales, the national governing bodies and the schools to really make sure that teachers are confident and enthusiastic about saying, 'We can do this. We can make sure that every single disabled child in Wales, whether they're in an SEN school, a specialist teaching facility or a mainstream set-up, can have a brilliant experience of those hours of PE that they should be getting, rather than accessing physio or doing other things that they might historically have done.'

We spent a little bit of time more recently—. Disability Sport Wales have got an initiative called 'insport' that we've been working on, which enables us to support partners to understand what inclusion genuinely looks like. So, we've used the insport model with local authorities, so all 22 local authorities are on the insport journey, which is a tiered system from ribbon through to gold. We've got a number of national governing bodies of sport working on the insport programme as well, and we've got clubs across Wales that are following the same journey. So, it helps to support everything from your coaching infrastructure, your policies and your governance, through to the actual delivery—the marketing and how that's sold.

One of the things that we are currently piloting in Merthyr is an insport education product, and that is something that we would love to have the additional resource to be able to deliver, to ensure that all schools are supported to understand what a genuinely inclusive physical activity world looks like. And that doesn't just include PE, that includes all aspects, it includes play and the culture of the school and how they support disabled pupils, and families and parents who've got disabled young people, to deliver genuinely inclusive education.

11:40

Mae'r cwestiwn nesaf gan Caroline Jones.

The next question is from Caroline Jones.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Good morning to you. Could I ask what your views are on giving physical activity a higher priority in the curriculum? The current curriculum does not include any formal assessment of physical education in schools, and also there's no measurement of the quality of the educational experience, so would you like to see a more directive approach on this?

I think, from my perspective, it's absolutely essential. Physical activity—we know that there's a huge agenda around obesity and reducing obesity, and we know that disabled children are 35 per cent more likely to be obese than their non-disabled peers. So, from that perspective, we know the consequences of that, as well, the increased costs to the health service, et cetera. So, yes, absolutely, I think education is the environment where most young people and children are—it's consistent for everybody. I think if we teach children how to enjoy being physically active—and sport might be a part of that, but I don't think it's the be-all and end-all of it. I think if we encourage children to have good physical literacy and be physically competent, they're going to find a way into something that might be sport, but it will definitely be in an active lifestyle—walking to school, moving, jumping around on play equipment, running on the school field, pushing around the playground and being active with their friends. Absolutely essential. So, I'd be really supportive of an increased profile within the curriculum, definitely.

Just briefly on that point, would you advocate extending the school day to incorporate more physical activity, at the end of each day, perhaps? What are your views on that?

That's a really interesting question. Yes, I think any way that a child can be more physically active would be really beneficial. As a mum myself, it's—. In order to ensure that your children are active, there is a requirement on parents to be active in taking their children to activities as well. So, I don't know, maybe by extending the day, you would assist parents in ensuring that their children were more active, because they would be doing that as part of a full day of provision that incorporated physical activity.

We do have a significant challenge for disabled pupils in accessing after-school provision, extracurricular provision, where a significant number of disabled pupils are bussed in and out of school. So, those young people, the bus comes at 3.30 pm and after-school provision starts then, and that really impacts on the opportunity for those young people to continue their provision and to take part, even if they want to. So, in some of the more rural local authorities, every child is bussed in and out, but, for disabled pupils, that tends to be everywhere.

Alongside that then comes the challenges that parents don't get the—I'm not a parent—after-school playground conversations that parents have, 'Oh, my child is doing this at the moment, did you know there's that—?' That has an impact as well. So, we're working in some local authorities, Neath Port Talbot is one of the examples, to try and address some of those challenges, but it's really difficult, because the transport system is so rigid. If I want a taxi to go somewhere at a certain point, the taxi comes when I'm ready, but for those disabled pupils, the taxi comes then. That really does have an impact on those opportunities.

You say that

'Deliverers of physical activity...to children and young people often do not provide opportunity for disabled children and young people to engage with their activity,'

that programmes are often not inclusive and also don't capture appropriate data on disabled children and young people. I think some people would find that surprising given the frameworks that we have now of equality legislation. What is it that's going wrong, then, and what can we do to address it?

11:45

If I take the data element of your question, I suppose one of the things that we as an organisation would find really useful is to better understand the information that we get through research and insight from a disabled child, in this case, but a disabled person's perspective. I think often the questions around disability and impairment aren't asked in a way that enables an understanding of what participation looks like, what latent demand is, et cetera. So, there have been some great changes to things like the school sport survey in ensuring that disabled children have a voice, but there's always going to be more to be done, and I think it's not just that disabled person's voice; I think it's the intersectionality of disabled women, and disabled women from ethnic minority communities, and it's that broader piece about understanding what we can do. Because we know from our key performance indicators where we think there's a demand, where popular sports and physical activities are, what they look like and what the preferences are. But when we then try and interrogate national surveys and data, they don't necessarily give that information specifically about disabled children's experiences, and I think if we are going to ensure that we can do something that is founded on research, then we need to make sure that we have the research underpinnings to inform us around that.

So, yes, the data, the Equality Act and the changes that that's brought about have been very positive to an extent, but I still think there's some stuff we can do, certainly around equality impact assessments, which will mean that, if we ask the right questions, we will make sure that the set-up and the establishment of projects and programmes are inclusive from the outset rather than delivered, reflected on, and then kind of a salt-and-pepper approach applied where there's a reflection of, 'Actually, has this done a good enough job for disabled children, adults? Perhaps not. What are we going to do to change it?' rather than thinking about that at the beginning of the programme so that it's established as inclusive from the ground up.

So, I think there's a bit more that we could understand and we would benefit from understanding through data.

I think that what we're seeing, as I said earlier on, and what we know is that there have been some really positive improvements, but those are probably where the impairment is lesser, where it's easier to include those children. We still get examples of young people who are taken from PE lessons and taken to physio instead, and because of the limited resources for physios in school, that tends to be the only opportunity. They tend to come from PE because, for some reason, PE is given less importance than a maths or an English lesson.

We also find examples of young people who are doing their sport and PE sessions with their support worker, or in a separate environment when, actually, they probably could be genuinely and properly included in the cohort with their peers. That opportunity to be alongside friends, et cetera, is really important. We know that there's a strong incidence of young disabled people being bullied in school, and being around an adult all the time isn't helpful with that. As much as we might like to think we are, adults aren't cool when you're a kid, and they want to be with their peers. Those are some of the things that we really need to address so that those young people are genuinely included and start to get positive experiences.

So, whilst legislation and the Equality Act will say that these young people must have opportunities, they may be getting them, but in a very different way to a non-disabled peer, and those are the things that we really need to address.

Yes, I just wondered if there was any evidence, or if you have any information about disabled children—the difference between boys and girls? Because generally when we've been discussing it we've been saying that girls participate less than boys. Would you say that that was true of disabled children as well?

Our membership data for under-18s from last year was that it was 64 per cent were males and 36 per cent were females. So, there is a larger gap. We know that there is a higher prevalence of some impairments for boys, but it's not enough to make that gap. So, we do know that there are those challenges.

I think the vast majority of the work that we've done to this point has been around getting disabled people involved in sport and physical activity. Now, we're at a point where we can start focusing on those intersectionality elements—so, what are the additional challenges that you may face if you're female living in a community of deprivation and have a disability? I think we're very much at a point now where we need to stop putting things into boxes and understand that there are multiple challenges for all young people—and adults, actually, for that matter—that we need to address and break down. 

11:50

I just wondered if you have any other examples you'd like to share with us of programmes where things aren't working well for disabled children and young people—any poor examples, if you like? 

I think we've got some examples where we can work with other organisations to ensure that the provision is improved. We've noticed a definite desire to ensure that provision is inclusive, and, where it hasn't been, I think it's not been as a consequence of the intent to do that. I suppose it goes back to my earlier comment about making sure that it happens right down here, rather than building it up as something that is for children without really thinking, 'Well, is that going to work for disabled children, and what do we know about that?' I think probably the one that I'd share is around the Dragon Challenge, which goes back to what you were saying, Caroline, in terms of the assessment of physical activity and competency. And when it was built, it was built with non-disabled children in mind, and we've worked over the past couple of years very proactively with Sport Wales to put together something that is based on the functional ability of children so that they can be similarly assessed through the Dragon Challenge and show their potential, their talent, their performance capabilities and their real physical competencies based on their functional ability, rather than being defined by the functional ability of a non-disabled child. So, you know, I wouldn't necessarily describe it as poor, but I would say there are lots of opportunities for us to really work with other organisations from an earlier point, which will really help.

I think our perspective has always been to genuinely believe that nobody intentionally sets out to exclude a disabled child or adult from any provision, but the reality is that it is still happening. I guess we still see programmes that are built and then the inclusive elements are added on as a bolt-on, and sometimes that's just a little bit too late. If it's built into a programme from the outset, it's more resource- and cost-effective. But it also ensures that the programme actually reaches out to all children, because the adaptations that you make for maybe a disabled child actually could benefit non-disabled children really significantly. So, on the development of the school sport survey in an easy-read format, the feedback from schools was that every child benefited from that. It made the process an awful lot easier. And it's making those simple adaptations to improve physical activity for everybody that's really important, but there are still those cultural barriers that we need to address where it needs to become part of your everyday, habitual thinking. 

So, if you think back to the very last thing that you did before you came into the room today, was there an understanding of the impact of that on disabled people and disabled children? If the answer's 'yes', then we're in a great position, but, for those people who aren't quite there yet, we need to work with those individuals to support them to reflect on how they can make their practice more inclusive. So, there's no deliberate intent out there for programmes not to be inclusive, but in pockets you do see it happening still.     

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

The final questions are from Rhun ap Iorwerth. 

So, the definition of a good programme would be one that automatically and from the outset accommodates different functional ability. You're nodding there, so can you give us examples of ones that really have and ones perhaps that we would know about, or perhaps local ones that really are good in terms of setting an example? 

There have been a few initiatives just recently. There's one, which is an inclusive zone basketball programme, that we've seen developed by British Wheelchair Basketball, which identified that a lot of young people with a physical impairment are probably only one or two of those young people in a cohort in a class, which meant that they very rarely had an opportunity to compete and represent their school. So, the inclusive zone basketball programme was an adapted version of wheelchair basketball, which meant there only had to be two seated players, and the standing players were in channels. So, for the non-disabled children, they got to see the competency and the capability of their disabled peers and they'd be using a chair for the game. But it also meant that those young people then got to compete for their school. And that's really important for these young people.

And we saw some real positive changes, not just in, 'Were they any good at basketball or not?' because, actually, that's kind of irrelevant to the process, but, in a school, there was feedback from teachers, where they'd said that, for the first time, that disabled pupil had a friendship group, because they saw that he was actually really good at wheelchair basketball, and they were kind of, 'That's impressive' and he was invited to one of his friend's parties as a consequence of it. He'd never been to a children's party before because—I don't know—he wasn't invited, because there was an expectation he wouldn't be able to join in. But those things are so, so important for the well-being, the confidence, the ability to socialise. It's really not just about physical activity. It's all the broader elements of that. So, that was a fantastic initiative because it put the disabled people at the heart of the programme and enabled them to be genuinely included alongside. It was a kind of reverse integration approach, which has worked really well. 

11:55

And I think we've seen through sport provision, in Ynys Môn as an example, a local authority working on insport development. So, in terms of what they're doing, they're working together to create a culture of inclusive change, which is meaning that the way they then go and deliver their sport and physical activity is much more conscious and much more focused around making sure that they're thinking about the provision for disabled and non-disabled children. And there have been some conversations I know about the Island Games and whether there could be some para-activities included within that. So, just the fact that those conversations are happening is really indicative that there is starting to be—. We know that cultural change takes time, but it's those kinds of things happening that are going to mean that the programme delivery does start to happen. 

And I can confirm that at our last meeting, hoping to bring the Island Games to Anglesey in 2025, that very issue was discussed, on being something in the mainstream. 

And that will be the first time for some of those other countries that are involved in that, some of the other islands that will be attending, to see the culture and what it means to have a disability in some of those environments; there's an opportunity to influence beyond Wales as well within that. And we're also seeing some really great work from some of the governing bodies of sport. So, if you were to look at golf as an example, they've ensured that all of their New2Golf programme kits that go with it include equipment that would ensure that if a coach or a pro is teaching a disabled pupil, they've got something within their kitbag to ensure that people can participate, whether that's a shorter club, a longer one, a lighter one, more brightly coloured balls, hand grips. And they've embedded that into every single kit that every single pro has. And that means that, from the outset, those pros are thinking about it—it's there. We don't have to go and find something. We don't have to manufacture a piece of equipment to try and make it work. It's a professional, really well set up piece of kit. So, there's some excellent work going on in governing bodies as well. 

Finally, you've explained how you've worked with a whole host of different organisations to deliver what we want to deliver here, which is to help make disabled children and young people, among children and young people in general, more physically active. Who should be leading that though? Who should be leading this drive?

I think, from our perspective, at the moment, it's us supporting the work of organisations like Sport Wales, the governing bodies, the local authorities, and the clubs. I think it's everybody's responsibility. 

And education, yes, absolutely. To go back to Michelle's observation, the reason that it's not happening is not because there's a lack of motivation to do it. I think it's just that we perceive that our role is to support the understanding, to be a support agency, to ensure that we can really work together to raise confidence in the capacity to be able to do it right, and not be fearful of not doing it right first time as well, because I think that, often, that fear causes people to try things that actually could be brilliant. So, yes, I think the need is for the sector, and anybody who has a role to play in enhancing physical activity, and Public Health Wales as well—everything needs to be thought about from that perspective.

The project that we're doing with Betsi Cadwaladr in north Wales around the health disability sport partnership has been great, because we know that disabled people might acquire impairment, become disabled later on in life, and they may come into contact with health professionals. So, they may not have known about stuff through education. So, we need to work with health for many different reasons as well, which is probably beyond the children element, but it's still really important that we educate everybody around physical activity, including sport.

12:00

I think it does seem like a significant evolution in our role. We gave evidence eight or nine years ago and, at that point, we were very much the delivery arm—we were the organisation that was facilitating and ensuring that activities were inclusive. Our role has evolved now in that we are acting as a support network around partners to help encourage and understand what inclusion should look like and can look like. That kind of supportive role, I think, is really important, because it takes away that fear factor. We're not running after anybody saying, 'You're not doing this for disabled people'. We're there to say, 'Look, actually, we can help'. I think until that habitual thing, which I spoke about a little earlier on, is happening, there's always going to be a need and a responsibility for someone to take that drive. But ultimately it comes down to the fact that it is every single person's responsibility—that everybody has to buy into this if we're going to get it right.

Diolch yn fawr. Dyna ni wedi cyrraedd diwedd y sesiwn. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi unwaith eto am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig fendigedig wnaethoch chi ei gyflwyno ymlaen llaw, a hefyd am eich presenoldeb, a hefyd am ateb y cwestiynau mewn ffordd mor raenus rŵan o'n blaenau. Gallaf gyhoeddi ymhellach y byddwch yn derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau yma er mwyn i chi allu gwirio eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir. Ond gyda hynna o ragymadrodd, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi unwaith eto.

A gaf fi gyhoeddi i fy nghyd-Aelodau y cawn ni doriad byr nawr? Bydd egwyl tan 12:15. Diolch yn fawr.

Thank you very much. That's the end of the session. Thank you very much again for your excellent written evidence, presented in advance, and also for being here today and answering the questions so fully for us. You will receive a transcript of the discussions here today in order to check them for factual accuracy. But thank you once again for coming in.

Can I just let my fellow Members know that we will take a short break? We will have a break until 12:15. Thank you.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 12:02 a 12:16

The meeting adjourned between 12:02 and 12:16.

12:15
5. Ymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc: Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Chomisiynydd Plant Cymru
5. Inquiry into physical activity of children and young people: Evidence session with Children's Commissioner for Wales

Croeso nôl i bawb i adran ddiweddaraf y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon yma yng Nghynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru. Rydym ni wedi cyrraedd eitem 5 a pharhad o'n hymchwiliad i weithgarwch corfforol ymhlith plant a phobl ifanc, sesiwn dystiolaeth 5. O’n blaenau mae Comisiynydd Plant Cymru. Mae'n bleser croesawu, felly, Sally Holland, Comisiynydd Plant Cymru, a hefyd Emma Curtis, cynghorydd polisi. Yn naturiol rydym ni wedi derbyn eich tystiolaeth ysgrifenedig glodwiw iawn ymlaen llaw ac mae gennym ni nifer helaeth o gwestiynau. Ac felly, gyda'ch caniatâd, mi awn ni'n syth i mewn i'r rheini, i ddweud y gwir, yn nhermau amser, ac mae Jayne Bryant yn mynd i ddechrau.

Welcome back, everyone, to the latest section of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee here in the National Assembly for Wales. We have reached item 5 and a continuation of our inquiry into physical activity of children and young people. This is evidence session 5. Before us we have the Children's Commissioner for Wales. It's a pleasure to welcome Sally Holland, the Children's Commissioner for Wales, and also Emma Curtis, policy adviser. Naturally we have received your excellent written evidence beforehand and we have a large number of questions. So, with your permission, we'll go straight into those questions, in terms of time, and Jayne Bryant is going to start.

Thank you, Chair. Good afternoon. I'll start by kicking off with whether you could tell us a bit more about why you believe it's important to look at the issue of physical activity using a rights-based approach.

I think there's a really strong link between children's rights and all the things that you've been exploring here as a committee. I know you've got a lot of reading as a committee, but I've given you another handout and there will be another one at the end. This is available online, but I thought it would be helpful for you to have a hard copy. Members of the Children, Young People and Education Committee are quite familiar with this document now and this is a framework that I've been asking all public bodies to use to plan and deliver their services. It gives a coherent policy framework for public bodies with a strong value base, rooted, I think, in Welsh values and in international law, and, of course, in our Welsh law of children's rights. It's got five principles in it and I'm just going to really quickly run through them and explain why they're relevant to this, if that's okay.

The first one is embedding children’s rights. So, as you'll know, the Welsh Government has a commitment to children's rights under the children's rights Measure. And I think that if anyone's providing any kind of service that's trying to help children be more physically active, whether that's schools or local authorities or health boards, it gives a very strong message to children and their families that this is because they have the right to be healthy, they have the right to play, they have the right to reach their full potential. So, we're not doing it because, perhaps, you're a group that lacks something, you're an overweight group, you're a group in poverty, you're a disabled group—you're doing because you all have an equal right and an equal chance. That's the first principle.

The second principle is equality and non-discrimination. I know you've been looking at this very carefully as a committee for this topic. And, of course, I'm asking public bodies to really drill down on what barriers children are facing, not just to do this in a superficial way and say, 'We're open to everyone', but actually to think about why some groups are missing out and what they can do about it. 

The third principle is empowerment and, again, I think you've been exploring that a lot, thinking about how we can help children and young people have the confidence to take up physical activity. If children don't know about their rights and don't realise they have a right to be healthy, to be provided with services, then they won't demand that they take it up. So, children should learn about their rights and they should be enabled to take part in physical activities in all sorts of ways through methods that give them the skills and ability to do that. I know you were hearing earlier about the sports ambassadors—both the disability sports ambassadors and the broader sports ambassadors—and that's a very useful example of how young people are given training and materials to help them take up their rights.

The fourth principle is participation, and I think I'll probably talk quite a bit about that this morning. I think that public bodies that are puzzling and thinking about how to overcome barriers for their local citizens will come up with the best solutions if they involve those citizens in finding those solutions. Of course, children and young people are key citizens here. So, young people should be involved in giving basic feedback on the services they've received individually, but should also be involved at a more strategic level in trying to engage in finding some of these solutions that you're searching for as a committee.

The fifth and final principle is accountability. I think that's so important for all of our public bodies and our Government to think in this area. So, that needs to be at all levels—schools need to be accountable, as do local authorities, public services boards and the Welsh Government, as to how they're going to provide the infrastructure and the services to enable children to be physically active, how well they think they've done and what they're going to do next with the things they haven't done so well at, because nobody's going to get it right first go. But it's about that accountability to children and directly to children and citizens. 

So, that's the framework that I would be asking the Welsh Government as a whole, but also individual schools and everyone in between, to use when they're thinking about this whole area.

12:20

Great. Thank you. You highlight the importance of links with play in your written evidence. Play Wales have suggested that the provision of adequate breaks for play should be mandatory and inspected as part of the school inspection. What are your views on their suggestion?

Well, every child's got a right to play and leisure—article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—and we need to make sure that they have the time and capacity to do that, both within school and outside of school. I haven't seen any systematic evidence on this, but I've heard from Play Wales and from children themselves that playtimes can get squeezed, lunchtimes can get squeezed, with lots of other activities but also around packing in lots of academic work. In terms of it being a mandatory requirement, I think it's certainly something to look at in the framework of the new curriculum—to think about the place of play. We've done very well, I think, in Wales in making sure that we have a play-based curriculum up to age seven, but play is a right for all children up to the age of 18, and I think we need to think beyond age seven.

Thank you very much. I'm sorry, I came in a bit late, so I missed your introductory statement, so you may have—

You've heard in the children's committee about 'The Right Way' before, haven't you? 

I just really wondered what you see as the main barriers that are there—that make it difficult to improve the physical activity levels of children.

We've been, actually, talking, as an office, to several hundred children over the last year, both about their experiences of play and all of their other rights under article 31—so, play, culture, arts, sport et cetera—and asking them about their experiences but also about their barriers. I have brought another handout—I didn't want to distract with too many, but I'm going to give you at the end a pre-publication copy of this report, which we're going to put out on Monday, which is a spotlight report on our findings from that.

We talked to children all over Wales last summer, and those children told us quite a bit about barriers that they face, a lot of which you will have heard in your evidence already as a committee. Obviously, poverty is a key issue here. You'll be aware that a lot of sport and other physical activity, especially organised activity, comes with high costs—subs, kits, transport to games, dance costumes, martial arts costumes, gymnastics and the like. There are real costs to that, and this has become a very standard activity for very many groups of children—to do a physical activity outside of school time—but, of course, we've got a third of children living in poverty in Wales, and those costs are absolutely prohibitive for some families. In this report, you'll find some children saying that they feel they're missing out on those rights under article 31 because of costs, and they're only attending free activities. So, cost is obviously a key problem.

Also, there are some infrastructure issues, of course. I've heard—I think it was from the StreetGames organisation—that they really struggle to get volunteer coaches in some areas of economic deprivation. Perhaps people are working shifts, or they may have less confidence in leadership or in sport in some areas. So, sometimes, it's just about having people there to help with activities. Clearly, there are gender issues around physical activity, and there are disability issues as well around making sure that things are accessible for disabled children. So, there are some real infrastructure issues in terms of barriers. Perhaps more fundamentally, there are some issues at school about how we organise modern childhood. So, children have talked to me about pressures—quite young children—of school life, of exams, of homework and of taking part in lots of structured activities, ironically, and having less time just for free play. We know that play—. Most children are active when they're playing, and, in free play, children are naturally active and they don't have to be sporty and they don't need expensive sports equipment.

There's also—of course, another barrier is our physical landscape: increased traffic and a lack of safe places to play and difficulties with active travel. Parents and children regularly speak to me about anxieties about children making their own way to school or to play outside, and that's sometimes anxiety about stranger danger, but it's particularly anxiety about traffic and safe places to play. I think play is an area that we have probably not thought through enough—its importance in terms physical activity—and, of course, there's been a shift in how children play and a whole world of online play has emerged in children's lives.

In this report, children talked to us about their online worlds being a very important part of how they spend their leisure time, but, actually, none of them said to us, when we asked what they wanted more of, that they wanted more time on screens, and, in fact, some of them are quite insightful about the fact that it was addictive—online gaming in particular—and they recognised they need to spend less time on screen. And that's about, really, us trying to find whole new family cultures—because, of course, adults are quite screen-addicted as well—in terms of finding that balance between—. We can't make the online world go away, but finding that balance and helping children, their families and schools find that balance between the online world and being physical and experiencing the world in reality, not just online. 

12:25

When you go through that list, it all seems a bit overwhelming—you know, how can we tackle it, especially with the issue about the number of children who are living in poverty and—. So, could you tell us some examples that you see as real progress where some of these issues have been tackled and there has been a lot of inclusive activity—play or physical activity?

Well, I think, of time the children spend out of school, some—. I know you've already heard about things like StreetGames and Us Girls programmes. I've taken part in and visited those programmes, and they're really—. They're quite small in terms of reach when we're thinking about all the children in Wales, although they've shown some real success in terms of involving children who may not have other opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity.

Car-free streets and play streets has been an interesting initiative that I would like to see more of, where we might see streets or even whole towns setting aside certain days to encourage play and cycling. That can feel quite tokenistic, but, actually, once people have had a good experience doing that then it may encourage more all-year-around confidence to be out and about on bikes and playing, and, of course, I wouldn't want to see that just as occasional measures—you know, 'Let's all play in this one day in July'—but building it much more into our infrastructure so we can build new developments, for example, where play and active travel take centre stage. I couldn't understand why we wouldn't build that in as a requirement now to all new housing; I would expect to see that. And, in older developments, obviously, limiting cars to 20 mph in residential areas—I think that should be routine and spread out quite quickly now that we have the powers to do that. We have seen, as you'll be aware, under austerity some real cuts to play provision and to youth work provision, and yet I do think that they provide vital services for all sorts of aspects of children's lives but here, of course, we're considering their physical activity.

About a month ago, I visited an adventure playground in Wrexham in Plas Madoc called 'The Land'. It's actually been named as one of the top 10 in the world. It's in an area of social deprivation. It's a fantastic place, where—. It's open after school every day. Children pour out of the primary school and into it and some from the secondary school too, and it's very physical. The children build and change the environment themselves as they go along, and children were leaping and running around and climbing and running through tunnels all through my visit. That takes some funding—actually, that service has been rescued by some lottery funding—but the advantages of what those children were learning and doing there were enormous, and the very physical nature of it was fantastic to see. So, there are just a couple of examples. So, we see these examples everywhere, but it's about how we can learn from these really good examples and make them much more part of children's routine and everyday experiences.

12:30

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

The next questions are from Rhun ap Iorwerth. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi. Mi oedd y rhestr a wnaethoch chi roi mewn ymateb i gwestiwn Julie yn un hir ac yn un brawychus. Os caf i ganolbwyntio ar y rhwystr i weithgarwch corfforol sy'n dod o anghydraddoldeb incwm yn benodol, a chwilio am ateb i hwnnw, a oes yna ateb? Rydych chi sôn am gost offer chwaraeon ac ati. A ydych chi'n mynd am chwaraeon, gweithgarwch corfforol, sydd ddim angen offer? Rhowch syniadau eraill imi.

Thank you very much. The list you gave in response to Julie's question is a long one and quite scary. If I can perhaps concentrate on the barrier to physical activity that derives from income inequality specifically, and perhaps looking for an answer to that, is there an answer? You're talking about the cost, of course, of sports equipment. Do you go for the types of things where equipment isn't required or are there other ideas?

My translation didn't work there, but I think I got the gist. Did yours work? I'll have that for next time, thanks.

You were talking about equipment and the cost of equipment and—. Apologies for asking you to—

Yes, it was—. We heard a very long list in response to the question from Julie Morgan of things that are barriers. One of the barriers is the prohibitive cost of equipment and so on. So, what we're looking at essentially in this committee is for a set of answers to get over barriers to physical activity. When it comes to inequality of income and poverty, what are the ways to try to get over some of those barriers? Not relying on expensive kit, I guess, would be one of them, but there'd be lots more.

Completely. It was quite an interesting announcement that the First Minister made this week in Plenary—but there was no sort of detail behind it—around replacing the school uniform grant with a wider grant for equipment. So, that's one to keep an eye on, I suppose, but I know no more than anyone heard this week. Clearly, the vast majority of our children are in school and are in school at no cost, and that's certainly a place for children to experience really high-quality physical activity and take away some of those barriers. I've seen, for example, the pupil development grant used by a school in Conwy to put on externally provided dance classes after school for the children because a lot of the children loved dance, they couldn't afford to go to dance classes and the head recognised the confidence and health benefits of that. So, it's partly about building it into school and finding innovative ways to do that. Whether we can help broaden out support for poorer families with things like kit and costs of subs and joining clubs—I think that's a really interesting idea.

In terms of sport specifically, I think it is about the fact that we have a great opportunity now with the new curriculum with the health and well-being area of learning and experience, and I really hope that this committee's report will play a key role in advising, really, that group that has developed. That's still very much under development, as far as I can see, this aspect of it, and there's a real opportunity now, I think, from all the evidence that's been heard over these few months, to really shape how we're going to enable children to be physically active and healthy in schools. I've observed and taken part in the daily mile, for example, and structured daily building in of activity into school, and I think that's got its place, but I don't think it's the whole solution. I think it's a great initiative, but it's not the whole solution.

Use of school facilities out of hours: I know you've heard about that already in committee, but that's something I think that could be explored in providing both open access for free play and structured activities. That could be provided, hopefully, free of cost, or at very low cost, for children and young people.

I actually think that asking children and their families what the best solutions are—as I said in my introduction—is one of the best ways forward. Because we can puzzle away at how best to involve people, but, actually, if you ask them what top three things would make a difference to them, I think that's where we'll really start to get solutions.

This year my team are going to be working on a tackling poverty project, where we're going to be asking children and their families about the very practical things that could be provided for them that would help them with some of the barriers they're facing, including barriers to sport and play, but also other barriers too.

12:35

Thanks. A lot of your response is relating to education and I think, as a committee, we certainly see the timing of this inquiry to be very opportune in terms of the changes that are already in the pipeline.

I guess Communities First would have offered many opportunities. I'd make the point at this juncture, though, that the problem there is that, if you're not in a Communities First area you haven't got the same opportunities, and that'd be a weakness of Communities First and that there are many areas with deep poverty outside Communities First areas. But what effect do you fear or think the loss of Communities First could have unless there's something that comes in as a substitute?

Yes, I think StreetGames was one of the organisations that was specifically funded, despite the loss, because that had been Communities First funded, and some other organisations, like the one I just mentioned in Wrexham, have managed to find other funding. Obviously, a lot of these innovative projects work on short-term funding and things start and finish, and that's a continuing issue with our provision in Wales, and outside of Wales. I think that short-term funding can be really great for proving a concept, or testing a concept, but once we know something works, like open access play, with some facilitation, then actually it's probably not helpful for the staffing of those projects to be spending so much of their time searching for the next funding opportunity rather than just giving the provision. So, longer term funding is certainly something we should be aiming for. We have an opportunity, of course, with our public services boards, and the regional partnerships of health, social care and, in some places, education, to really think about how we can pool resources in a very strategic way, because there are lots and lots of initiatives and the point of the legislation underpinning both of those interagency planning committees is to make sure that a full assessment is done of what's there, what the needs are there—the well-being needs—and what can be provided for them. I'm not yet seeing, in either of those sets of structures, a real focus on children and children's well-being. Obviously, they've still been in set-up phase over some time, but there's a real opportunity for them to really focus on children in either the PSB area or the regional area and the provision for that, and to pool resources, which I understand are very tight—I accept that—and to connect with communities and ask communities themselves what the solutions are. Because I think we're trying to move, in Wales, beyond doing things to our local communities, but finding solutions with them. I hope we are.

12:40

Symudwn ymlaen—mae'r ddau gwestiwn nesaf gan Jayne Bryant.

Moving on—the next two questions are from Jayne Bryant.

[Inaudible.]—Chair. Oh, I’ve come back now, sorry. I’ve got some more. You've put me in two different places.

What changes do you believe are needed in schools to improve the physical activity levels of children and young people, and have you got any examples of good practice?

I've covered a little bit of this in talking about the areas of learning and experience, and I pay particular attention to that strand of the curriculum development, partly because it's so fundamental to children's rights, of course, but also because it's such a new area, really, for schools to put it at the same level of importance as other areas of the curriculum, and I really welcome the fact that that's been done. I can't emphasise enough that this is a key moment, really, for us to shape that and make sure that we get that right.

It's of course more than just a curriculum, and it is the whole school environment, and I see some really good examples of schools really using their physical environment and outdoor learning, as well as outdoor play. I think we all remember things better and learn things better if we're doing them rather than just hearing about them or reading about them. Children respond very well to learning things physically and doing things physically. I've seen examples of schools along the north Wales coast and in Pembrokeshire using the beach very well as a learning environment. So, they might be doing science, but they're also walking to the beach, spending time on the beach, and walking back. So, that's of double benefit from doing it out there, and I bet you they remember really well the science they've learnt on the beach.

There's also, of course, around schools, active travel and getting children to travel actively to schools. In terms of good examples, I've seen and experienced some Sustrans programmes where they've really turned around some schools. I visited a school in Tenby a couple of years ago now where there was a very small proportion of children cycling, walking or scootering to school, and after a week's intensive input, or I think it was a term's intensive input from Sustrans, the majority of children were cycling and scootering to school. It was about getting the confidence of the children, and particularly the parents, up and finding safe routes for them to do that. So, everyone had the confidence for it, and it set them a bit of a challenge as well, and they were giving awards, which helped.

But it is difficult for parents to feel confident sometimes in letting their children travel actively to school, especially independently, but we need to find better ways to do that. I suppose I'd add the caveat, thinking about so many policy challenges regarding children that everyone goes back to, 'The solution is in schools, children should be taught more about this, or schools should provide more of that.' I think it's really important for us to think that this is never going to be solved just through school provision, it's got to be about the whole community and how we regard the place of children physically in our communities as a whole.

I think, in my evidence, I mention a very recent study from the east midlands, which was a bit of a disappointing one, really.FootnoteLink They did a randomised controlled trial in an area where a lot of children were overweight and physical activity was low, putting on a really comprehensive programme of the sort that you might want to recommend—the sort of thing you would recommend as a committee—of healthy eating programmes, physical activity, extra sport, extra activity, and the randomised controlled trial, which is the most thorough way of evaluation something, actually found very little impact on physical activity and obesity, which is disappointing. But it was only one study, which doesn't mean we should give up.

But their conclusion was that wider structural issues are probably more important, and, of course, children's biggest influence is their family. We need to encourage somehow a more active, whole-family environment. There's no point in parents just driving their children to an activity, picking them up, and driving them home again. It's how we can build it into whole active families. We've seen things like family fun runs and park runs et cetera—we can really see the power of families enjoying being physical together. But there tends to be a bit of a socioeconomic disparity in engagement with that kind of activity. But whether some public campaigning could take part in challenging families to enjoy the outdoors and spend more time together, as well as opening up the environment, physically, for them, is the solution—. But these are not easy solutions, these are big structural issues, and we do have to look at the evidence of what makes change.

12:45

I know you've just mentioned it's not just all about schools, and I very much appreciate that, but in terms of the curriculum, as you touched on, we do have an opportunity now. At the moment, as you know, there's no formal assessment of PE in schools and there's no measurement of the quality of education experience. Do you think that this is an opportunity to do more of that—to have an opportunity to measure these things?

Well, we do all sorts of measuring in other ways. I don't know whether you want to come on to that later about how we measure activity of children more generally across Wales. But in terms of assessment, my understanding is that how we assess and at what times we assess children are going to be completely revamped with the new curriculum to fit with the principles and activities of the new curriculum. And it will have to fit with the principles of that. There is a risk in children feeling even more disillusioned if they do badly in physical activity and we want children to learn to enjoy it, but we also know that measures create change sometimes. It might be more about measuring how the schools are providing for and engaging children in activity than individual measures.

Can I go on to talk about how we measure activity?

Yes, go on then—yes, briefly. There are several questions to go, though, so carry on.

Okay. As I know you know, we've got some really comprehensive measuring of children's activity going on through the Sport Wales survey and the School Health Research Network and a number of other services. I think they're both really important; they provide comprehensive and very large-scale measures. Two quick points on that. One is that, while they are important, they're mainly measuring behaviours and attitudes rather than experiences and solutions. So, when we're thinking about barriers, we also need to remember to ask children, perhaps in different ways, about how they actually find taking part in sport in school et cetera.

The second point would be that that data could be used in many ways, so it shouldn't just be about taking data from children for us to use in a number-crunching way, nationally. But I've talked to Sport Wales and the people running the School Health Research Network about that data being used with children, empowering children to hold their schools to account on what's going on and to help make plans for the future. So, we have this very rich data set on a school-by-school basis through those two surveys, and I think what happens next is the accountability part of my framework—how we actually enable schools to be accountable, then, for what they're going to do next and what they're going to do about those data. I think children are able to be a really key part of that.

I did initiate, with Welsh Government, recently, a round-table looking at how we collect data from children. I was quite concerned that there was this plethora of surveys that were extracting data from children and that they were possibly being over-surveyed. We did agree, at this round-table—and all the people running the surveys were at that—that we should co-ordinate more together, have more accountability on how the data is used to make children's lives better, and to consider more how to gather their experiences and opinions, not just their behaviours.

Yes, thank you. I just wanted to ask if there are any changes you'd like to see in terms of the approach to physical activity in schools, such as, maybe, the length of PE lessons, lunch breaks, or we've had some witnesses say that the school day should be extended. We'd just be interested in your views on that, please.

Well, one of the most common things children tell me is they would like to do more sport in schools. Although, again, as the Sport Wales survey shows, it is the sporty ones who are asking for that, and it's often boys who are asking for that as well. In terms of the school curriculum, children are increasingly asking me for less gender-based PE. Girls are asking to do more football and rugby, some boys are asking for less football and rugby, and I've seen some real transformation schools that have thought, 'Actually, we don't know why we don't have a girls' rugby team', and the take-up's been huge when it's actually been offered. And some boys feel sport is, especially as they go up in age, very, very competitive, and if you're not good competitively at sport, at team sports, then it's not going to be for you.

So, I think it's about thinking about some of those natural biases we may be building into the PE curriculum, and working with the consumers of that PE curriculum to find the right solutions. Those might be different in different communities, so in coastal communities, using the coast—Emma, who's here with me, is a surfing instructor in her spare time as well. There are all sorts of ways we can use our natural environment as well that are physically active without being competitively sporty. That's the sort of thing I would like to see, if it's possible, and more varied activity that draws on children's real experiences and interests. Winning the league might have to take a bit less of a priority.

12:50

That chimes with what we've been told by children and young people, because they want more choice, really, to do the activities that they want to do, but as you probably know, it is quite prescriptive in lots of settings. So, have you got any ideas about how we can change that in school settings?

My understanding of the new curriculum is that it will be much less prescriptive and that they'll be much more looking at what kind of experiences and learning children will have, rather than, 'You must cover this, this, this and this.' I welcome that, because that chimes with what children tell me works best for them.

So, what do you feel the Welsh Government should do? What is required from the Welsh Government to ensure that some of these great things you've said will actually happen?

Two of the things I've identified that are not specifically about organised sport are the chance to play and active travel. Obviously, as you're well aware, in Wales, we have some really groundbreaking legislation around both of those issues, our play Measure [Correction: policy and legislation relating to play] is internationally recognised, but I suppose I'd be looking for active scrutiny of our play Measure [Correction: policy and legislation relating to play] and of the play sufficiency assessments, and—

For play sufficiency, it is. It's as much now about resourcing, and making sure that, in the context of this inquiry, the infrastructure for active play is there as well. Active travel—again, we have good legislation on that, but we're still seeing, I think, quite a slow delivery in some areas, and I'm particularly interested in children's active travel to schools and to out-of-school activities, and that they're feeling safe and the safe infrastructure being there. That's going to require quite a shift in resourcing from our reliance on cars to a reliance on non-car travel. Children are automatically discriminated against, really, when we concentrate on cars, because children, obviously, can't drive, and those who travel independently have to use public transport or active travel, and we need to make sure that our infrastructure is there for them.

So, they would be two. So, it's active scrutiny of both of those measures, providing the opportunities in the new curriculum and through the twenty-first century schools building programme, making sure that physical needs are thought through in the planning stage, and planning requirements for new developments—really thinking through whether we're really building an opportunity for safe, active outdoor play and travel in those. And scrutiny of how well the public services boards and social care and health regional partnerships are working to really focus on children. My concern is that they have a very adult agenda at the moment.

You have mentioned new technology, and the advantages and disadvantages. Lots of parents and teachers do feel that children are not being physically active because they are spending so much time on new technology. Have you got any views on this? I know there are plenty of opportunities there as well.

12:55

There are opportunities. There's the Rhondda Cynon Taf Beat the Street initiative. You may have heard about that in committee, where they're logging their travel electronically, but it's about getting out and about. There's—I'm just trying to remember the words for these things—geocaching, isn't there, and those kinds of activities? But children recognise themselves that being online is addictive, and complain about their parents as well being addicted to technology, and wanting to be out and about more. 

Actually, the evidence is quite mixed on the impact on children's physical activity of technology, although by the time research gets published often technology has moved on really rapidly. So, it is a fundamental question that will we have to keep an eye on, but somehow we need to help children and families develop different social rules for screen time. Some of that's going to be cultural rather than—. We can't legislate for that, I think. It's going to be cultural, and learning and encouraging.

Ocê, diolch yn fawr iawn. Dyna ddiwedd y sesiwn. A allaf i ddiolch i chi unwaith eto am y dystiolaeth ysgrifenedig y gwnaethoch chi ei chyflwyno ymlaen llaw a hefyd y dogfennau ychwanegol rydych chi wedi eu cyflwyno nawr i'r pwyllgor? Mi fyddwch chi yn derbyn trawsgrifiad o'r trafodaethau i chi allu gwirio eu bod nhw'n ffeithiol gywir. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi. 

Okay, thank you very much. That's the end of the session. May I thank you very much once again for the written evidence that you submitted beforehand and also the additional documents that you have presented to the committee. You'll receive a transcript of these discussions so that you can check them for factual accuracy. Thank you very much.

6. Papurau i’w nodi
6. Papers to note

A allaf i, at fy nhyd-Aelodau, gyfeirio at eitem 6 a phapurau i'w nodi? Mae yna bum llythyr yn fanna y byddwch chi wedi'u darllen. A oes yna rywbeth yn codi yn benodol? Hapus jest i nodi? Dyna ni. 

I'll turn to my fellow Members and refer to item 6, papers to note. There are five letters there. You will have read those letters. Is there anything arising from those letters? Happy to note? Yes. 

7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
7. 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.

Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen, felly, at eitem 7 a chynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod. Pawb yn gytûn? Cytûn. Diolch yn fawr. 

We move on, therefore, to item 7 and the proposal under Standing Order 17.42 to decide to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Is everyone agreed? Agreed. Thank you very much. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:57.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 12:57.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales's office wishes to note that the study was undertaken in the west midlands.

Archwilio Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru