School Sport and Activity Action Plan

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care Mims Davies MP, The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, and Seema Kennedy MP| July 2019| New plan to help children get active 

The Government have announced their School Sport and Activity Action Plan to provide children with more opportunities to access and participate in 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays. 


As part of the Plan schools will be urged to recognise how physical literacy and high-quality, modern PE lessons can benefit other aspects of school life and improve pupils’ behaviour, wellbeing and attainment. They will also be encouraged to use sports leaders and mentoring schemes to ensure pupils have a say in developing their schools’ sports offer. Schools will be encouraged to offer a range of activities that appeal to young people from different backgrounds, including girls and less active groups.

More detail on the actions in the plan will be published later this year (Source: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport et al.).

Read the press release in full  Children to have greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of physical activity every day

See also:

Sport England New plan to help children get active

Child sexual exploitation: prevention and intervention

This document provides a summary of the latest international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation | Public Health England

Public Health England has updated their Literature search to identify the latest international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.

This report summarises the emerging evidence from the UK on the issue of child sexual exploitation. It provides practice examples to support local public health leaders to establish a public health framework for prevention and intervention.

Full document: Child sexual exploitation: how public health can support prevention and intervention

Physical activity helps children to deal with life’s challenges

Public Health England, Disney UK and Sport England launch new Change4Life campaign to inspire children to get more active | via Public Health England


Evidence shows that children and young people who are more active have more confidence, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and stress and better social skills – attributes that can help them deal with the challenges they face in daily life. Positive attitudes towards physical activity have also been associated with children being happier.

The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, yet just 20% of boys and even fewer girls (14%), are meeting this target, despite 95% of children saying that they enjoy being active.

A new campaign is encouraging children to play 10 Minute Shake Up games inspired by favourite characters.  The campaign has also launched a new online quiz to help children, with their parents, find activities and sports to try.

For more information, see 10 Minute Shake Up games

Childhood Vulnerability In England

Major study from Children’s Commissioner reveals over two million children in England are growing up in families where there are serious risks.

This report examines the latest scale of, and trends over time in, rates of childhood vulnerability. It estimates the total number of children in England currently receiving statutory support or intervention (those who are ‘in the system’), to be 723,000 children.


The report estimates that 2.3 million children are living with risk because of a vulnerable family background. Within this group, it estimates that more than a third – 829,000 children – are ‘invisible’ (in the sense of not being known to services) and therefore not getting any support. Another 761,000 children – around a third – are known to services, but their level of support is unclear. Adding these two groups together, means that there are 1.6 million children from a vulnerable family background for whom the support is either patchy or non-existent.

Key Statistics:

  • 2.3m children growing up with a vulnerable family background
  • 1.6m children in families with complex needs for which there is no national established, recognised form of support
  • 829,000 children are ‘invisible’ to services
  • 25% of the amount councils spend on children now goes on the 1.1% of children who need acute and specialist services

Full detail: Childhood vulnerability in England 2019

CBT could benefit mental health of children with long term conditions

NIHR | June 2019 | CBT could benefit mental health of children with long term conditions

Researchers at the University of Exeter led a systematic review which looked at the impact of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the mental health of children with long term conditions.  In England, nearly a quarter (23%) of secondary school age pupils reported that they had a long-term medical illness or disability in a recent survey. Children and young people who have long term conditions are four times more likely to experience feelings of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues than those who are physically healthy. 

The team of researchers identified some evidence of the benefits of CBT in inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pain and epilepsy; although the evidence in this area is limited and further research would be valuable (Source: NIHR). 

Study Design: Evidence synthesis of quantitative and qualitative research.

Methods: The search strategy will be developed by an Information Specialist in consultation with topic experts, children, young people and their families. Sources will include electronic databases, citation chasing and hand-searching. Inclusion and exclusion criteria will be applied to the title and abstract of each identified citation independently by two reviewers with disagreements being settled by discussion with a third. Full text will be obtained for papers that appear to meet the criteria and a similar process used. A standardised, piloted data extraction form will be used to collect data from each included paper. Appropriate quality appraisal checklists will be used according to the study design. Quality appraisal and data extraction will be performed by one reviewer and checked by a second, with disagreements settled through discussion with a third. Synthesis methods will be determined in response to the nature of the findings but will include meta-analysis if appropriate. An overarching synthesis will bring together the findings from the two reviews through the systematic development and refinement of a conceptual framework to map out the conjectured links between the different types of intervention and anticipated outcomes, gaps in the evidence and factors that enhance or limit intervention success. Consultation with stakeholders will seek feedback on the credibility of the findings, the clarity of the framework and the extent to which it illustrates their experience.

Population: Children and young people (aged 0-25 years) with a diagnosed long term physical health conditions (LTCs) and a diagnosis of a mental health disorder (assessed by a validated and standardised measure) or at risk of such a diagnosis and experiencing symptoms of mental distress (scoring above an established cut point on a validated questionnaire).

Health Technologies: Any intervention, delivered to children and young people with the aim of reducing mental distress.

Outcomes: Outcomes describing the mental state of children and young people e.g. symptoms of depression, anxiety, emotional distress or behavioural disorders, psychological health, psychological function, suicidal behaviour, psychological aspects of health related quality of life, sleep quality and incidence of self-harm; costs and resource implications and experiences of interventions for children and young people with LTCs and mental ill health.

Timetable: The project is scheduled to take 15 months to complete, with dissemination continuing after this. Month 1-11 Conduct of systematic reviews (literature searches, study selection and retrieval, data extraction, quality appraisal, synthesis); Month 11-13 Overarching synthesis and development of conceptual framework; Month 11-12 – Report drafting; Month 13-14 – Co-creation of plain language summaries; Month 14 – Consultation with stakeholders; Month 15 – Editing.

Expertise: The team comprises a core group experienced at completing systematic reviews to deadline supplemented with people with the necessary experience of LTCs and mental ill health from a clinical perspective. Our Project Advisory Group provides additional expertise from clinical, third sector and family perspectives. In addition we will be recruiting children and young people to a C&YP Research Advisory Group.


Full details from NIHR

Is video gaming positively associated with higher body mass?

Are children, teenagers and adults who spend a lot of time playing video games more obese? This meta-analysis study looked into this question, and found that the cliché to be true – but only for adults | Social Science & Medicine | published online 9 June 2019 | story via ScienceDaily

A new study comprising a total of 20 relevant studies with more than 38,000 participants has revealed a small correlation between video game playing and excess weight or body mass. However, the link was only established for adults but not for children and teenagers. This authors identified a significant indirect effect which shows that people who spend more time playing video games also spend less time exercising and therefore weigh more or have more body mass which helps explain this correlation.




High body mass and obesity are frequently linked to the use of sedentary media, like television (TV) or non-active video games. Empirical evidence regarding video gaming, however, has been mixed, and theoretical considerations explaining a relationship between general screen time and body mass may not generalize to non-active video gaming.


The current meta-analysis had two main goals. First, we wanted to provide an estimate of the average effect size of the relationship between sedentary video gaming and body mass. In doing so we acknowledged several context variables to gauge the stability of the average effect. Second, to provide additional evidence on processes, we tested the displacement effect of physical activity by video gaming time with the help of a meta-analytic structural equation model (MASEM).


Published and unpublished studies were identified through keyword searches in different databases and references in relevant reports were inspected for further studies. We present a random-effects, three-level meta-analysis based on 20 studies (total N = 38,097) with 32 effect sizes.


The analyses revealed a small positive relationship between non-active video game use and body mass, indicating that they shared less than 1% in variance. The studies showed significant heterogeneity,  Moderator analyses revealed that the relationship was more pronounced for adults,  as compared to adolescents, or children,  MASEM found little evidence for a displacement of physical activity through time spent on video gaming.

Caroline Marker, Timo Gnambs & Markus Appel | Exploring the myth of the chubby gamer: A meta-analysis of studies on sedentary video gaming and body mass  | Social Science & Medicine | published online 9 June 2019

See also: Do video games drive obesity? | ScienceDaily


Children’s Commissioner: Advocacy for children

Children’s Commissioner | June 2019|  Advocacy for children

Advocacy for children- a publication  from the Children’s Commissioner- builds on research by the Children’s Commissioner in 2016, which also explored the provision of advocacy across England and found substantial variation across local authorities, with spend per child or young person ranging from £2 to £668 each year.
Image source:

This report intends to take stock of advocacy provided by local authorities three years on and to highlight ongoing issues observed by the Children’s Commissioner’s Help at Hand service, which provides advice and help to children in care.

While many people can act as a child’s advocate by helping them to have their voice heard, this report focuses on independent, professional advocacy, to which children and young people are entitled by law and statutory guidance (Source: Children’s Commissioner).

Children’s Commissioner Advocacy for children 

Full details from Children’s Commissioner