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Extracurricular activities are in freefall for primary-age children, with poorest kids hit the hardest

New analysis published by the Labour Party today reveals how participation in extracurricular activities for primary-age school children is in freefall under the Tories.  

Analysis of the Government’s Taking Part Survey data shows declining participation for primary age children over the last ten years – with trends pre-dating the pandemic, including:

  • 13% decrease in competitive sports inside and outside of school
  • 36% decrease in participation in music
  • 45% decrease in dance activities
  • 47% decrease in theatre and drama
  • 16% decrease in visits to heritage sites
  • 18% decrease in visits to libraries, and
  • 13% decrease in visits to museums

Children from the poorest backgrounds are three times more likely not to take part in any extracurricular activities. 

Responding to the figures, Labour’s Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP is today announcing Labour’s ambition for all children to have the opportunity to undertake ten life-enhancing activities by the time they are ten, including playing a musical instrument, taking part in competitive sport and learning to swim and ride a bike.

Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP said:  

“Every child matters. Whatever their background – every child should have the chance to take part in activities that open their eyes to new opportunities. Whether that’s learning to swim, playing a musical instrument or visiting a gallery or museum to discover more about the culture and history of our great country.

“We only get one childhood and over the last ten years of Conservative government too many children have been denied experiences that set them up well for learning and for life.

“It’s Labour’s ambition that all children have the opportunity to take part in ten life-enhancing activities by the time they’re ten. And we offer to the Conservative government a plan to make it happen. If they won’t step up for the nation’s children, the next Labour government will.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Being born and raised in Portsmouth I have seen first-hand how extra-circular activities can enrich the learning and lives of local children.

“But the Tories in government have allowed participation to collapse, reinforcing existing disadvantage for primary-age kids in our area and slamming the door to better life chances,

“Labour’s plan offers children the opportunity to learn fundamental skills and immerse themselves in new experiences we used to take for granted. After a year like no other where our children have been among the worst affected, it is Labour taking the welfare of future generations seriously. It’s time this government did too.”

Labour has published its Children’s Recovery Plan. The Plan would deliver sport, drama, breakfast clubs, debating and a fully expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities. This would boost time for children to play and socialise after months of lost learning – and after a decade of declining participation in extracurricular activities (see table in Notes to Editors).

Labour will celebrate the role of organisations like Scouts, Girlguiding, uniformed cadets and community initiatives from across the country to highlight the role of the third sector in helping to realise our aspiration for all children.