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Learning lessons from Taking Part: young people’s engagement in culture and sport

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Sarah Morris, Senior Researcher .
Tags: Taking Part, children, museums, reading, schools

Alongside studying core subjects including maths, science and English, secondary school also provides young people with the opportunity to take part in a range of cultural and sporting activities that they might not necessarily be exposed to otherwise. Getting involved in arts and crafts, music and competitive sports from a young age can really help to shape the types of things that people are interested in for the rest of their life.

Now the summer holidays are well and truly over, the school run has set in and school uniforms still have that ‘slightly too big’ look (you’ll grow into it), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published the annual Taking Part Statistical Release for 2016/17. Although the Taking Part survey has been running since 2005, this was the first year that NatCen and Ipsos MORI jointly carried out the survey. Our survey interviewers knocked on over 11,000 doors to collect information on adults’ and children’s participation in the arts, heritage, sports, libraries and other things that people do in their spare time. 

The Taking Part child report focuses on children and young people aged 5 to 15 years and the things they have taken part in over the past year, both in school and in their spare time. The report showed that 89% of young people aged 11 to 15 participated in reading or writing, which includes writing stories, plays or poetry, reading books for pleasure or taking part in a literature lesson, with around 82% saying that they did these activities at school.

We’ve seen similar levels of young people taking part in sports since 2008, when children and young people were first included in the survey, but there has been a decline in the proportion of young people taking part in competitive sports at school over the past five years. Fewer young people play sport against others in PE lessons or in organised competitions than they did in 2011.

So what are young people doing when they’re not at school? Interestingly, young people were nearly twice as likely to visit a museum or gallery and more than twice as likely to visit a place of historic interest outside of school as in school. But it seems that the days of visiting the local library at the weekend to get your hands on the latest Point Horror or Sweet Valley High novel are not as common as they used to be. As with adults, the figures show a decline in the proportion of young people visiting a library over the past few years.

Well, that’s just a quick snapshot of some of the things young people are doing before and after the school bell rings. Take a look at the full report to find out more and… I’ll race you to the library!

Sarah would like to thank Pete Dangerfield for his input to this blog.

Follow me on Twitter: @morrisarah

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