Olympic athlete partners with Education Scotland to explore equity and participation in sport

Eilidh Doyle visits Knightswood SecondaryOlympic star Eilidh Doyle has joined forces with Education Scotland to look at the barriers for children taking part in physical activity and sport in school and the wider community.

Eilidh, from Kinross, has been working with Education Scotland since August. She visited Knightswood Secondary School (Friday 22 November) where she met with children and teachers to get their views on the physical activities and sports that are available for young people to participate in before, during and after school hours, in school and in the community.

Eilidh, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the 4 x 400 m relay, visited Portree High School last week where she spoke with teachers and children before taking part in a Q & A about her successful career.

The visit comes as World Health Organisation researchers revealed more than 80% of adolescents worldwide are not active enough, putting their health at risk by being focused on screens rather than physical activity.

The athlete, who is a former PE teacher at Perth Grammar, said: "I’m delighted to take on this task which will look at the physical activities and sports available in urban areas, for example, city schools, as well as more remote areas like the Isle of Skye.

"I’m looking forward to meeting and chatting with children about what they think might stop them taking part and then I can establish if there is a pattern in the restrictions around physical activity and sport.

"Sometimes if it’s a remote area, transport might not be available for those children and young people who attend sports clubs after school. This is an equity issue that must be addressed so that the same physical activity and sporting opportunities are available to every child."

Depute Headteacher Katy Anderson from Knightswood Secondary School said: "At Knightswood we are committed to providing opportunities which develop the health and wellbeing of all of our young people. We are delighted that Eilidh is working with us to further promote and inspire young people into participating in more physical activity and sport."

Education Secretary John Swinney said: "Participation in sport and physical activity has an immensely positive impact on young people, improving their health, confidence and motivation. Pupils are being provided at least two hours or two periods of PE a week at 99% of primary and secondary schools across Scotland - supporting young people to develop lifelong participation in sport and physical activity from the earliest age.

"We welcome the work being carried out by Eilidh and Education Scotland to tackle further barriers to participation in school sport and physical activities and help ensure that all young people have the opportunity to take part and experience the benefits."

The findings of this work will lead to a published report and then Education Scotland will work with partners to consider how best to address barriers experienced by young people in accessing physical activities and sport in the school setting.

Eilidh added: "Physical activity and sport is so important for mental and physical health. From a young age, children and young people can have such positive experiences through their participation in physical activities and sport which they can then carry throughout their lives, contributing positively to their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing".