Key messages from the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey for Somerset - Academic Year 2020-21

We have recently been analysing local data from the Children & Young People Active Lives Survey for Somerset. Here we will talk about the trends for physical activity across our county, what this means for our work, and how we can use this data to make decisions.

Before we talk about trends, it's important to highlight the sample size for Somerset has fallen year-on-year from n=2572 in 2017-18 down to n=940 in the latest 2020-21 survey. This is important to note, as it limits the available sub-group analysis of the data. We will be seeking to understand this in the coming months, and engaging with schools to help show the importance, and impact, of the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey.

What trends are we seeing across Somerset for Children and Young People?

1. Somerset has been more impacted by the pandemic than the national average

Prior to the pandemic, the proportion of active children and young people steadily increased across Somerset, and remained above national averages. However, in 2020-21, we were more impacted than the national average: for the first time in four years we have a smaller proportion of active children and young people than the national average.

2. Boys appear to be more impacted by the pandemic than girls

Historically, boys in Somerset have always been more active than girls. However, in 2019-20 that all changed: boys saw a fall in activity, whilst girls continued to increase activity. Both saw falls in 2020-21, but girls now remain the more active gender.

3. Team sports & active play remain the most popular activities for children & young people

Walking to get to school and other places, and cycling for fun and fitness, both peaked in 2019-20, but team sports and active play both still remain the most popular activities for children & young people. All activities have seen falls in 2020-21, driven by the pandemic. However, swimming has seen a consistent fall from 2017-18, from 1 in 4 children & young people swimming at least once in the last week, to a figure closer to 1 in 6.

So what does this all mean for us in Somerset?

This data tells us about how Somerset is faring compared to the national figures, but importantly, it is telling us in more detail who in Somerset is seeing falls in activity levels. This is making us think:

  • Gender differences - What more can we learn about how boys and girls have experienced physical activity during the pandemic? How can we ensure they both recover?
  • Focus on activities - We're seeing some trends across different activities, how can we support these? How can we prevent the falling trend in swimming?
  • Sample size matters - for us to get a greater understanding of physical activity for children and young people across Somerset, we need greater sample sizes. With more data, we'll be able to explore why some of the trends above are happening, and explore other factors such as location, year group & family affluence.

What next?

We would like to explore these results further, and think about how we can embed them in to decision making around our work on physical activity. We'll be running a webinar on 26th October exploring these key messages in more detail. If you'd like to join, please sign up here.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, and what it means for physical activity in Somerset, please contact Annabel Litchfield, Impact and Learning Manager on

About the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey

The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey presents data for children and young people in school Years 1-11 (ages 5-16) in England. The first survey was completed in the academic year 2017-2018. Further results are published each academic year. More information can be found on Sport England's website, here. The data here covers the academic year 2020-21. This contains a full year of coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, including comparisons back to summer term 2020, when school sites were closed to most pupils for much of the period.

Childrens ALS Webinar

Annabel Litchfield (she/her)

Annabel Litchfield (she/her)

Impact & Learning Manager

07599 654681‚Äč

Partners and Sponsors

Partners and Sponsors

  • Sport England
    Active Partnerships
    Somerset Business Award Winner
    Somerset Chamber of Commerce
    Disability Confident
  • Somerset Skills & Learning
    Youth Sport Trust
    activity alliance
    Somerset Partnership
    Somerset County Council
    Avon & Somerset Police
  • Homes in Sedgemoor
    Macmillan Cancer Support
    Community Council for Somerset
    Spark Somerset
    YMCA Dulverton Group
    Department for Work & Pensions
  • EDF
    together team
    Somerset Cricket Board
    British American Football Association
    Badminton England
  • Somerset FA
    British Cycling
    Create Development
    Children in Need
    The Salvation Army
  • Channel Adventure
    Nova Sports & Coaching
    Somerset Community Foundation
    Sports Coach UK