Sport for Everyone
Good morning and welcome to the 23rd meeting in 2017 of the Health and Sport Committee. I ask everyone to ensure that their mobile phones are on silent.
We have received apologies from Miles Briggs and Alex Cole-Hamilton.
The first agenda item is our final evidence session on sport for everyone. I welcome to the committee Aileen Campbell, the Minister for Public Health and Sport, and Derek Grieve, head of the active Scotland division of the Scottish Government. I invite the minister to make an opening statement and I apologise for the slight delay.
That is okay. Thank you, convener. As you noted, I am joined by Derek Grieve, who is head of the active Scotland division.
As the committee is aware, I am absolutely clear about the importance of sport and physical activity. My ministerial portfolio—public health and sport—signifies a deliberate, clear and connected approach that exploits the benefits of physical activity and sport to improve the health of the people of Scotland. We want to create a culture in which healthy behaviours are the norm, right through people’s lives. The Scottish Government’s vision is of a Scotland where more people are more active, more often, and sport has an important role to play in realising that vision.
In Scotland, sportscotland is developing a world-class sporting system at all levels, connecting sport in schools and education, clubs and communities, and performance sport. That system has helped Scottish athletes to achieve huge success at a number of levels—in the Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic games, as well as the national, European and world championships. Through their successes, Scottish athletes are inspiring others on their own sporting pathway and providing the rest of us with immense pride and the motivation to get more active.
Through our investment in facilities, we are providing participation opportunities for people and communities across Scotland. Since 2007, sportscotland has invested more than £168 million in supporting local clubs, local authorities, sports governing bodies and other organisations to deliver a wide range of new and upgraded sports facilities.
The recently published “The Scottish Household Survey: Scotland’s People—Annual Report 2016” showed that participation in all physical activity and sport has increased slightly, from 72 per cent in 2007 to 79 per cent in 2016. Although we would all like to see higher numbers, I am encouraged by the increase in numbers of children who now meet the chief medical officer’s physical activity guidelines. However, we recognise that there is still more to do. That is why, in order to better evidence the impact that sport has across our communities, my officials are working directly with Scottish sports governing bodies to help them to improve their data collection in order to measure the impact of their outcomes against the active Scotland outcomes framework.
To ensure that children from all backgrounds have access to sport and physical activity, this Government has invested £11.6 million in supporting schools to meet our physical education commitment of two hours or periods per week. That figure is up from 10 per cent in 2004-05 to 98 per cent in 2016. It is backed up by significant investment in the active schools programme. The latest figures from that programme, published a couple of weeks ago, show that active schools participation levels have increased by 52 per cent over the past five years, with 6.8 million visits recorded during the academic year 2016-17.
Our ambition to create a more active Scotland is why we committed in our manifesto to making Scotland the first daily mile nation. Getting the nation active requires action across Government, which is why we have put record investment into walking and cycling and will continue to do that for the rest of the parliamentary session; it will be doubled to £80 million in 2018-19. Active travel will improve health outcomes for individuals, improving both their mental and physical health. Those initiatives aim to assist people from across Scotland to become more physically active, as well as more integrated with their local community.
A big part of the committee’s focus has been on the accessibility of the school estate. We know that there are thousands of sports facilities in the overall school estate, including sports halls, pitches, multi-use outdoor areas, swimming pools, running tracks and tennis courts that are available for community use, but we also know that more can be done to maximise the use of that resource and investment. As I mentioned in my response to the committee’s phase 1 report, I would find it very useful and informative if the committee will share any evidence that it has collected on those issues so that we can take action as appropriate to build on the on-going work that we already do with local authorities to unlock barriers to access.
Finally, I would like to put on record that a lot of sport and physical activity would not take place without an army of volunteers. The dedication of so many, and the time that is put in, to create opportunities and nurture new talent is the lifeblood of our sporting heritage and future. Volunteers are vital not only for sports clubs but for the active schools programme, which is possible only because more than 19,000 volunteers deliver sport and physical activity in their communities.
A lot of good work is going on, but we are alive to the challenges that exist. We welcome the committee’s work on the issue so that we can collectively create the country that we all seek, which is one that is healthier and more active.
I am happy to take any questions that the committee has.
Thank you. Brian Whittle will kick off the questions.
Good morning, minister, and Mr Grieve. I will start with a question on the baseline. A lot of the information that we have in this area is from the Scottish household survey. I am interested in understanding whether the household survey included information about those who are on waiting lists to join sports clubs, who might be inactive at the moment but are looking to be active. In other words, is there a capacity issue that we need to address? I am also interested in knowing about those who would like to access a sport but cannot, which is about the choice element. To establish a baseline—or as a starter for 10, if you like—I would like to know how deep the household survey went.
The household survey is the gold standard approach to assessing the country’s activity levels. However, as I said in my opening remarks, I have instructed my officials to work with our sports governing bodies to help them understand the full picture of activity and help the governing bodies understand the activity of their own members as well. That is on-going work to ensure that we can get a full picture of the numbers of people who are members of sports clubs or of the numbers of people who want to join sports clubs—that is, those who have been inactive but want to become more active. We are doing that work with our governing bodies to help us understand more clearly the aspects to which Mr Whittle referred.
I am interested to know whether there are clubs that are at capacity. I have anecdotal evidence, including from my kids, about people who would like to join a club but cannot because the club is at capacity. Is information about the waiting lists for such clubs included in the household survey? That information would be an important factor in increasing the level of physical activity in the country. I imagine that such evidence would be useful for the household survey.
Again, the work that we are doing with the governing bodies is important because it will give us a fuller picture. We understand that there are spikes in the interest in certain sports, particularly when there are high-profile events such as the Commonwealth games. Of course, such interest is linked to the capacity issues to which Mr Whittle referred with regard to the number of volunteers who can help to deliver activity opportunities. That is why we noted in our programme for government that we want to develop volunteering opportunities far more visibly and strategically, which will have an impact on not just sport but a range of activities in the country’s civic life.
Derek Grieve might want to add something.
Derek Grieve (Scottish Government)
Beyond the household survey, the sports governing bodies are much closer to the capacity issues of each sports club than we are. As part of a governing body’s plan for developing a sport, the body has on-going discussions with sportscotland, particularly around supporting increasing the capacity of clubs, not least through volunteers, as the minister mentioned. It is therefore about increasing the capacity for coaching, access to facilities and so on. The capacity issues are monitored very closely by the sports governing bodies; they inform our thinking on both local and regional development, and are part of the discussions between governing bodies and sportscotland.
I am also interested in whether you have looked at sports that have increasing numbers of participants. Are they the easy-access sports in which the barriers to participation, such as costs, are not high or are minimal? For example, someone who wants to go for a run needs only a pair of trainers, but someone who wants to go sailing needs a boat. Have you compared easy-access sports with sports that are not easy to access?
In my strategic guidance letter to sportscotland, there is an emphasis on ensuring that there are accessible opportunities and on delivering on equalities. I am not sure whether that specific analysis has been done. A lot of work has been done on trying to unlock some of the barriers to those sports. Community hubs across the country provide opportunities for people to try sports that they might not ordinarily have tried. In Maryhill, for example, sailing on the canals is one of the opportunities that are offered.
There are really imaginative, innovative ways in which locally focused groups deliver what might be seen as pastimes for those with much more resource to people who might not have the same disposable income. Those opportunities have been provided through community hubs, innovative works and using the local assets. The canal network around Maryhill has been improved significantly over time and young people in Maryhill are getting the opportunity to sail and experience other sports on the water. Those opportunities might not have been there had we not taken a strategic approach through the community hubs, the assistance that we give to our governing bodies and support through a variety of other things, such as cashback for communities.
I fully appreciate that. I was not suggesting that we get everyone in Glasgow into a Steve Redgrave rowing eight. I was looking at how easy access is and whether we should focus on certain sports. That is where I was coming from.
The active schools network is important for young people because it offers opportunities in sports other than football, which might be the obvious go-to sport, given that it is our national game and so many people watch, play and enjoy it. The active schools network provides tasters and the chance for young people to experience other sports and activities.
I picked the Maryhill example to illustrate that those other opportunities are not just the easier things—it is not just about providing walking opportunities for young people who might not have the resource to enjoy sailing. There is a wide variety of opportunity, provided that there are the right conditions and connections across a community and the right people leading that special opportunity and offering. That is interlinked with our youth work approach, in which groups such as the uniformed groups and YouthLink Scotland articulate the opportunities that their youth work providers are giving to young people across the country. Cashback for communities, with its clear link to the proceeds of crime, is also providing funding for positive pastimes for young people.
One of the starkest figures in the 2016 Scottish household survey was the 18 per cent gap between the most and least deprived communities in participation in sport and other physical activities. According to the survey, 87 per cent of people from the most well-off background took part in some sort of physical or sporting activity compared with 69 per cent of people from the poorest background. What is the Scottish Government doing to close that activity gap?
I mentioned that in my response to Brian Whittle. We have been very clear in our direction to sportscotland that we want to see a focus on the communities that you have identified. That is why the next iteration of community sport hubs will have a much keener focus on tackling areas of deprivation to ensure that there is opportunity and so that we can nudge people in those areas towards becoming more active.
We all want to see those statistics improve and ensure that there is opportunity for all to take part in sport, because we know the transformative impact that sport can have on our communities and people’s well-being throughout their lives. We want to reduce that inequality and ensure that we provide more opportunities for everyone, regardless of their income.
Will the Government set targets for organisations such as sportscotland to increase participation in the most deprived backgrounds specifically? You talk about increasing physical activity and you mentioned the figures in your opening remarks, but you did not say anything specifically about national outcomes and the gap between the most deprived and the most well-off areas. At the moment, sportscotland is given funding to do what it does, but there is nothing linked to that funding when it comes to tackling issues in the most deprived areas.
However, my strategic guidance letter explicitly says that I want sportscotland to tackle inequalities. The next iteration of community sport hubs—I think that seven are being taken forward—will be in areas of deprivation, which will explicitly address your concern. It is a concern that I share; I want to tackle the issue and close that gap.10:30
One of the biggest barriers for people from the most deprived areas is the cost of participating in certain sports. Given that a large number of activities in sports centres are provided by local government, has the reduction in funding for local government, along with the council tax freeze that there has been, had an impact on the cost of activities?
We probably have a different analysis of the local government settlement; we think that we have given local government a fair settlement to deliver the services that it is charged with delivering. As you know, in the next budget discussions there will be an opportunity to talk about the different ways in which Scotland might use its powers to increase the money that we get into our coffers to deliver the public services that we hold dear. We all have the opportunity to take part in that conversation, which will take place across the country.
From our perspective, we think that we have given local government a fair settlement. Of course there are challenges. There are fiscal challenges for the Scottish Government too: our own budget has suffered a reduction. It is challenging, but that is why we want to maximise the investment that we have already made in our sporting infrastructure, to increase the facilities that we have, which are now world class.
As a direct result of the Commonwealth games, we have a legacy of community hubs across the country. We have active schools in 32 local authorities, which are giving young people opportunities to take part in sport. The active schools programme has greater uptake and participation in areas of deprivation, which shows that that investment, which is led by sportscotland, is delivering on the issue that you raised—and you were correct to raise it, because we want more people to have the opportunity to take part in sport. The active schools programme is helping us to close the gap.
The most recent briefing from the Scottish Parliament information centre showed a 6.2 per cent real-terms fall in local government revenue budget from 2010-11 to 2016-17. The figures are there for everyone to see.
A consequence of the budget reduction is that, right across Scotland, local authorities have had to look at areas in which they can raise income, and it is clear that one approach has been to increase charges for a host of services, including sport and activity. Has the Government done any analysis of the impact of the budget settlement for local government and rising charges on participation levels, particularly in the most deprived communities?
As I said, we believe that we have given local government a fair settlement. If you are drawing those conclusions as part of work that you have been doing—if you have uncovered an explicit link—by all means let us see your analysis.
We recognise the requirement to ensure that people from deprived communities get opportunities. That is why, in my strategic guidance letter, I asked sportscotland to focus on equality and on areas of deprivation, through the community sport hubs, and it is why the clear commitment that sportscotland has to active schools is delivering more keenly for those in deprived areas, where uptake is higher.
You said that the local government settlement is “challenging”. The local government settlement is utterly catastrophic. I have been talking to local authorities over the past couple of days. They have been showing me documents that assess the potential cuts to their budgets. The documents are piled high: youth work gone; community centres closed; libraries closed; swimming pools closed—it is utterly catastrophic and devastating for communities. In my view, it is the breakdown of society that we are overseeing at the moment—[Interruption.] It absolutely is, and if some members think that that is not the case, they should go and look at the potential cuts that local authorities will have to implement; they are utterly catastrophic, and the poorest and most deprived communities will suffer most.
If the Government has not assessed the impact of those cuts on participation in sport, is it up to the committee to do that? Is the Government doing no assessment of that?
I have said clearly that we recognise that there are challenges in making sure that areas of deprivation have access to opportunity. That is why I have charged our sporting agency with looking at what more it can do to tackle inequality, and why I specifically cited the active schools approach, which is currently delivering across 32 local authorities opportunities for our young people, and which has seen higher participation from communities in areas of deprivation.
Forgive me, convener, but you seem to be making assumptions as well, or perhaps you have done your own analysis. If you have, it would be useful to see it. Of course we recognise the challenges under which local authorities are working. That is why we continue to work with our local authority partners and why we work with governing bodies, and it is why we are intent on maximising the impact of the resources that have been put into improving infrastructure across the country. We want to continue that work because we recognise that there are challenges and that we need to do more to get people active. That is why we have asked sportscotland to focus on areas of deprivation, to ensure that there is equality of access for people.
Last year, sportscotland spent almost £12 million on performance sport and £10.7 million on clubs and communities. Is that the right balance in terms of encouraging more people at the grass roots to get involved in sport?
Sportscotland has two roles. One is to ensure that support is given to our elite performers to be leaders in terms of activity, and the other is to develop an infrastructure that allows people to take part in sport. It is not just sportscotland that delivers funding for sport: 95 per cent of the resource that goes into sport is spent at community level and 5 per cent is spent on elite sport.
Does sportscotland’s budget have the right balance if more of it is being spent on performance sport than is being spent on clubs and communities?
I am telling you that 95 per cent of the total money that is spent on sport is spent on community infrastructure.
Forgive me: that is not what I asked. I asked about sportscotland’s budget. If sportscotland spends £11.8 million on performance sport and £10.7 million on clubs and communities, is that the right balance?
Again, I gently reiterate that it is not just sportscotland that is in charge of promoting opportunity for sport.
I know that.
Ninety-five per cent of the total sports funding is spent on community-based activity and sporting opportunities and 5 per cent is spent on elite sport. That balance feels about right to me. If I was to cut elite sport funding and that meant that we were not seeing elite performers doing well in big events on the global stage, I would again be before the committee being asked why we had not supported our athletes to—
I was asking particularly about sportscotland’s funding.
I will ask a supplementary question. Do you agree that ensuring that we have elite performers who achieve in international competitions is also exceptionally important in terms of encouraging people to participate in sport?
I agree absolutely. There are a number of role models: there are people in our sports hubs who are doing fantastic work at that very local level, as role models and leaders in their communities. Also, the fact that we see Scottish athletes performing and doing well on the world stage creates a great deal of pride, and it inspires the next generation to believe that they can achieve if they put in the hard work and endeavour. What is also transformative is that those athletes go out and try to ensure that they are part of that inspirational message: they are going out to schools and communities and talking about their resilience, for example. Those are lessons in life that our children and young people require so that they can emerge into adulthood as successful individuals. There is a real role-model element to our elite performers. They are charged with that work and they deliver on their responsibilities.
I want to ask about the legacy of the Commonwealth games, which might be felt all around the country. We have seen evidence from Moray saying that people are not sure that they have gained much benefit from the Commonwealth games, but I know that next door, in the Highland Council area, where I live, people could reasonably easily identify benefits that they have gained from the games. Could you tell us more about what the Government has done to ensure that the legacy has been felt countrywide?
The community sport hubs are a tangible legacy. The expansion in the number of hubs across the country is a great success story that is bringing people together at community level to develop opportunities. We have an ambition to increase that number. Moreover, there is the legacy of improved infrastructure, which is an on-going and lasting legacy that will allow people the chance to use facilities in many parts of the country.
There are other things—for example, the legacy 2014 active places fund. That £10 million fund was launched in 2012 and supported a total of 188 projects across the 32 local authorities through five investment rounds. In an attempt to ensure that it was not just a Glasgow games but a countrywide games, all local authorities have some kind of benefit and legacy in their area. There is a strong story to tell about the Commonwealth games’ legacy, which continues to be felt across the country.
Thank you. I heard a lovely story from Ross Sutherland Rugby Football Club, which was delighted to receive rugby posts that had been used in the Commonwealth games, and then to donate its rugby posts to somewhere further north. There is certainly a legacy in the Highlands—even some identifiable and tangible kit.
I know that active transport is not in your portfolio, but in terms of health outcomes I was absolutely delighted to see the doubling of funding for active transport in the programme for government. I am sure that that will have an impact all over the country, but it will have a huge impact in the Highlands, where we see cycling and such things as really important sports. Can you tell us a little bit more about that funding?
Absolutely. I am keen to make sure that not just my sports portfolio but the public-health element of my portfolio benefits from that investment. The significant investment that will be put into active travel between now and the end of the parliamentary session is important to the targets and ambitions within Humza Yousaf’s transport portfolio, but there is a read-across to my portfolio.
There has been real success in recreational walking, which will be aided by the significant investment that we will make in active travel infrastructure. It is all about giving people opportunities and choices that are easy for them to make when they leave the house. Great progress has already been made on encouraging people to cycle and walk to work, and to feel safe doing that. The investment will go a long way towards improving the infrastructure and allowing more people to have that choice, as opposed to their taking the default position in society, which is that decisions are made around the needs of the car.
I thank the minister for joining us. During our inquiry, the committee has been privileged to visit community sport hubs. I think that it is fair to say that we were all really impressed by the work that we saw. Specifically, I was fortunate to visit the Phoenix centre in Ivan McKee’s constituency and the community sports hub in Drumchapel.
I see from the meeting papers that a lot of the funding for community sport hubs comes from the Big Lottery Fund: sportscotland has raised with the committee its concerns about reductions in Big Lottery funding. Has the minister had any discussions with the Westminster Government about that funding and its future sustainability, and has she had any reassurances about how sportscotland can maintain the amount of money that it gets from the Big Lottery Fund?
I share the concern about the reduction in lottery funded revenues. I wrote to the United Kingdom Government in the spring about the sustainability of the model, and how we can work out what more can be done strategically to increase the revenues, but I am yet to receive a response. There is now a developing landscape of many different lotteries, which reduces the impact of national lottery funding. It is a pressing issue on which we have yet to hear back from the UK Government, despite attempts to secure a meeting to discuss the matter. I think it would be in our best interests to work on it together.
Absolutely. Given that concerns have been raised with us by community organisations and by organisations like sportscotland, can the committee provide any support to the minister to expedite a reply from the Westminster Government?10:45
We are making a genuine attempt to work out what can be done strategically to stop and reverse the reduction in revenue. The benefit of that will be felt not only in Scotland, but across the board. The agenda is not owned by any one political party, so I would welcome the committee’s being minded to add a bit of weight to our call. Indeed, I encourage it to do so: that would be in the interests of us all. We all, regardless of party affiliation, share the desire to ensure that our communities are supported. Historically, a lot of funding has come through the national lottery, so we need to work out what we can do to alleviate the effects of the reduction.
Good morning, minister. I am sure that we all welcome the doubling of the active travel budget, although we have to bear in mind that the figure was previously hovering above 1 per cent. The increased budget will undoubtedly help to deliver an active Scotland under your portfolio.
I want to look at the figure for recreational walking. If we take recreational walking out of the official statistics, we see that participation in physical activity has remained static, at around 50 per cent. I would like to hear your views on why participation in other forms of activity is not increasing at the same level. Could participation in recreational walking have increased markedly because it is one of the least expensive activities in which people can get involved?
I question why you would want to take walking out of the statistics. As our active Scotland outcomes framework indicates, participation is about activity, which includes walking, so why would you take it out of the equation? The increase in recreational walking has come about not by accident, but because we took, through our funding of Paths for All, a strategic approach to increasing the number of people who walk. There has been a deliberate attempt to increase the numbers. I find it confusing that you would want to take out walking, which is an important part of the activity story.
I would absolutely not want to take out walking—I am just wondering what lessons can be learned from the success that has been achieved in that area, and whether the increase in participation in walking has come at the cost of decreased participation in other areas.
As you said, walking is easy, and we need to let people know that they can do it reasonably cheaply: they do not need fancy footwear or sports gear. We need to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support people to make that choice. That is why it is important that the active travel budget is going up: it allows people to make that choice on their doorstep when they leave their houses.
Of course there is more to do, but there are probably a lot of lessons to be learned from the steely strategic focus that we have applied to ensure that more people recognise the pleasure that they can get from the outdoors through walking. However, I would be disinclined to remove walking from the activity story, because it is a positive part of that story and has shown growth. It shows that people are becoming more active. That might not necessarily involve competitive sports, but it is, nonetheless, activity, and that is how we judge the success of our active Scotland outcomes framework.
I want it on the record that I absolutely do not think that walking should be excluded. I was simply asking about the fact that we can, when recreational walking is excluded from the figures, see that participation in physical activity has remained static at about 50 per cent.
I declare that my entry in the members’ register of interests notes that I am a board member of Scottish Athletics, because my next question is on the removal of the jogscotland funding. Some of that funding was subsequently replaced, and there will now be a partnership with the Scottish Association for Mental Health. It is fair to say that all members of the committee were astonished when jogscotland funding was withdrawn, because the programme has had proven success in breaking down socioeconomic barriers and in involving women who had previously been uninvolved in physical activity. I suppose that jogging, a bit like recreational walking, is something that people can do from their front door and does not require a lot of equipment. The programme is a real success story. Will the minister give us an update on the funding?
There was support and funding that were designed to try to improve jogscotland’s sustainability. Scottish Government officials also did work to evidence that. There is now a clear story to tell. The collaboration with SAMH is important because it is also being explicit about the health benefits that come from jogging. The additional £2 million that I announced earlier this year to offset the reduction in national lottery funding has helped to ensure that funding is available for jogscotland.
Why was the funding for jogscotland reduced in the first place?
There was always support and funding for jogscotland, but there was a requirement to put work into ensuring the programme’s sustainability, which is why Government officials carried out work to evidence jogscotland’s impact. That has paid dividends because—as Alison Johnstone articulated—we can now see the clear evidenced link between the health improvements that are felt through jogging and the work that jogscotland does at community level throughout the country. We welcome the approach through Scottish Athletics. It is exactly the territory that we want our governing bodies to be in.
Was the funding reduced because there was no evidence at that time?
No. Work was requested to ensure the sustainability of the model, which is why sportscotland gave funding to enable and develop that sustainability, and why work was done through the Scottish Government to ensure that there was an evidenced approach. That has shown that the model is sustainable. The evidence exists and there is a partnership with SAMH, which is to be welcomed.
I am sorry, but I am not really clear about that. Maybe I just do not understand how it worked. My understanding is that the funding was taken away, representations were made by the committee and various other people, and then the funding was put back in place via SAMH. Is that how it worked?
There was a request to develop the model’s sustainability. Sportscotland made a one-off investment in Scottish Athletics to support the transition of jogscotland into something more sustainable. There was also work going on with the Scottish Government to develop the evidence base for the programme’s impact. We now have the development of the partnership between jogscotland and SAMH, which is positive and illustrates the link between activity and improved health outcomes.
I will talk a bit about the overall measures, but before I get on to that, I will comment on the earlier interaction about the funding balance between elite sport and participation.
The convener picked two lines out of sportscotland’s budget, but they are only two lines out of seven and represent only a small part of the total spend. Some of the lines are a bit confusing. About 15 per cent of the total spend of £77.5 million—the £11.9 million that the convener mentioned—was spent on performance sport. However, the minister said that only 5 per cent of the total spend represents elite sport. I assume that the vast majority of the spend in the other lines—the nearly £20 million on places, the £4 million on partnerships, or the £13 million on schools and education—will be at participation level rather than at elite level. As you also correctly said, if we look at the big picture, about £495 million is spent on sport in total, of which the £11.9 million that was referred to is about 2.4 per cent. Does that tie in with how you see the numbers?
Sportscotland is one part of the funding picture for sport and activity. There is also funding from local authorities and a host of other organisations. I would say that, of the global funding total, 95 per cent is focused on participation and community groups, and 5 per cent is focused on elite performance. That balance feels right.
Sportscotland takes seriously its responsibilities as a leader not just in relation to elite performance, but in ensuring that our population becomes more active. That is why the active schools investment is so important—especially given that we know that the biggest take-up has been in areas of deprivation. That shows how important it is to provide opportunities to young people in schools, free of charge.
That is fine—thank you. It is important to get that on the record, because selective quoting of statistics does not help us to develop our understanding of the big picture.
I will ask about measures. We have the national outcomes and the national performance indicators—from memory, they show a flat participation percentage that is in the low 60s. We also have the Scottish household survey, which has two numbers: if we include walking, participation has gone from 72 to 79 per cent, but if we exclude walking—I agree with the minister that it does not make a lot of sense to do that—it is about 50 per cent. Can you shed light on the difference between the numbers in the national performance indicators and those in the household survey? Which figures most accurately reflect what we are trying to achieve?
Aside from the national performance framework, the active Scotland outcomes framework takes on board the household survey, the health survey, the growing up in Scotland survey and a host of other things, and it attempts to use all of them to demonstrate that participation is improving or stable—or going in the other direction, which we would want to reverse. The active Scotland outcomes framework takes on board a host of ways in which we collect data on activity across the country and at the different ages and stages of life.
Derek Grieve might want to add something.
There is no direct comparison between the household survey and the health survey; the data is cut and sliced slightly differently. The health survey data is aggregated at health board level and the household survey data is aggregated at local authority level, so there are different ways of cutting what is much the same data, although one set of data excludes children—it is just about adults.
I was interested in the question because one survey shows that participation has gone up significantly and another shows that it is flat. I wondered whether they are measuring different things—they obviously are doing that. Which one should we focus on?
We use our active Scotland outcomes framework because it brings all that together, plus “Growing up in Scotland”, which is the longitudinal analysis of children’s lives and experiences in Scotland.
I guess that the general thrust is that there is still a lot to do if we are to get our population a bit more active and nudge people in the right direction. There are encouraging signs on walking and the activity levels of children and young people, as I said in my opening remarks. Regardless of how we collect and cut the statistics, we have to take from the statistics that, although there is marginal improvement in some areas, there is still a lot to do to bring people from being inactive to being active. The active Scotland outcomes framework attempts to bring together data that is collected in different ways and corral it, so that we can understand whether our policy, legislation and whatever are delivering what we seek to achieve.
When we want to deliver something, it is always good to have a measure, and when we have several measures that are going in different directions, it is difficult to know whether we are making progress.
I certainly suggest that you look at the active Scotland outcomes framework—you probably have done that. The approach is lauded internationally, and other countries are considering adopting it. We have the right things in place to measure success, but the challenge is to ensure that policy is implemented correctly so that we see the improvements that we need to see.
The active Scotland outcomes framework is really clear on how we measure success, which is about the number of people—children and adults—who are active. That is the top-line measure, and it is informed by a range of indicators against each of the six outcomes. The measure of success is clear: it is the number of people—children and adults—who are meeting the physical activity guidelines. That is drawn from the health survey.11:00
Is that the measure that is in the national performance indicator?
The national performance framework is slightly different from the active Scotland outcomes framework. There is a physical activity indicator, which is drawn from the Scottish health survey. The frameworks draw from the same data. They are different from each other, but they are linked.
Right. That is clear as mud.
The active Scotland outcomes framework is the one that we are working to.
I would be a bit concerned if what you were measuring was disconnected from the national performance indicators.
The national performance framework is being revised, and it is important that we use that opportunity to align the frameworks as explicitly as we can.
That would be helpful.
From my perspective, the important thing is the active Scotland outcomes framework, warts and all. We have a national strategic group that brings together sportscotland, Education Scotland, Transport Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and all the rest of it, and the thing that we are signed up to deliver on is the active Scotland outcomes framework.
That is the one that has shown a rise in participation from 72 to 79 per cent, which is good.
I have a specific question on early experiences in life and sport activity. We know that the earlier we can intervene to get kids to take up a sport, the likelier they are to participate in sport later in life. The committee took evidence from Andrea Cameron from Abertay University, who told us that
“Children who have had a poor experience in school are less likely to stick with sport and exercise as they go into adulthood”—[Official Report, Health and Sport Committee, 26 September 2017; c 4.]
and that that poor experience could be linked to their experiences of PE in schools.
Does the Scottish Government quality assure what types of sports are delivered in our schools by, for example, carrying out a survey? Do we have an idea nationally of what type of sport is being delivered in our schools? I know that that is a specific question.
Are you asking about working out whether a good experience is being provided for young people?
I suppose that my point—this would have been my supplementary—is that, in my experience as a teacher, the sports that were delivered in a school very much depended on the teachers’ specialties, so there might be inequality of opportunity.
The fastest-growing areas of girls’ participation, which we announced at the start of women and girls in sport week, are karate, dodgeball and cross-country running—forgive me, I do not remember the others. They are not things that we would naturally associate with PE tuition in schools. When young girls in particular have been provided with the opportunity through active schools, those areas have had the fastest growth. Rugby was the other one—seeing Maree Todd reminded me of that. Heaven forfend that I should forget that. That growth maybe shows that there is an attempt to shift away from what you asked about.
Another thing that I point to is that our governing bodies are doing interesting and innovative work. Netball Scotland, through its “Sirens for success” programme, which I went to see at Shawlands academy, is using its professional sporting stars as role models, to unpick some barriers that adolescent girls face in schools.
I highlight the fantastic work that Shawlands academy is doing on ensuring equality of access to sport, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups in our country. With LEAP Sports Scotland, it has developed a framework to ensure that people recognise the barriers that young people face when they are about to do sport and how those barriers can be off-putting for them not just at school but for life. I certainly encourage the committee to look at that. That has been led by young people, through LEAP Sports Scotland, and it is a tool that other schools could use.
As we hurtle towards the end of the year, we are coming to the time when social dancing happens. People will have memories of social dancing that might be positive, but might not be. If a young trans person in school is told, “Girls line up on one side and boys line up on the other,” that can be a barrier. It is really difficult. I cite the work that Shawlands academy has done with the support of LEAP Sports Scotland.
We can probably do more to focus on the opportunities that are provided to young people at schools. Some of that will be led by teachers’ experience and knowledge and their sporting background. However, we should take heart from the fact that, through the active schools network, a range of experiences and opportunities are being provided, which is why we are seeing growth in karate, rugby and dodgeball. People are taking up the opportunity and participating in those sports.
My sister teaches in Shawlands academy, so I will certainly speak to her about all the good work that it is doing.
That has stirred up some trauma from years gone by for some of us—although it was probably more traumatic for the people who had to dance with us.
I would love to have had a dance with you, Mr Findlay.
I assure you that you would not, because a broken foot might have been a possibility. [Laughter.] That will make the diary column at the weekend.
I have a—
You are getting an image in your mind.
I have a vision in my head of dancing with the convener.
I have a couple of quick points. The minister talked about separating out the measurement for walking from the uptake of sport. I agree with Alison Johnstone that any kind of activity is welcome, but I think that the activities should be separated because sport needs a framework and volunteers to allow participation much more than easy-access activities such as walking do. We have to measure that, because we need to understand from the start whether capacity is a barrier or whether we have reached saturation point and so on. That is why it is important that we have the ability to view the two elements separately.
I return to the convener’s point about jogscotland. It is obvious that the withdrawn funding was put back in place mainly because of pressure from the Parliament and the committee. That is a good thing—it is good that we have the ability to rectify mistakes when they have been made. Bearing that in mind, will you reconsider funding for compulsory swimming at primary school level, given that 40 per cent of children now go to secondary school unable to swim and so cannot participate? As Colin Smyth suggested, that is more prevalent in poorer communities. Should the Scottish Government look at reintroducing funding to ensure that all primary schools get access to swimming?
The curriculum is not dictated, and we want more young people to get the opportunity of access to being physically active, which swimming plays a part in. Alongside that, we support the governing body, Scottish Swimming, with investment, and we will continue to support increasing activity levels and highlighting the importance of that.
Swimming will always be an important part of the PE curriculum in many schools. However, it has been a long-standing tradition in Scotland that we do not have a national curriculum and we do not explicitly specify what should be part of the curriculum, apart from in religious and moral education. We will continue to support Scottish Swimming to deliver opportunities for young people.
Funding of £1.7 million has been withdrawn, and I suggest that swimming is not just about activity; it is a life skill that allows kids to participate in all sorts of ways, even if that is just going on holiday and jumping in a swimming pool. I ask you to look for an opportunity to reintroduce such funding to allow schools to ensure that all primary school kids have access to swimming.
We do not deny the importance of swimming, not just as an opportunity to be physically active but because of the life skills that it brings. However, all sports provide life skills such as resilience, confidence and a host of positives for young people. Swimming is an important part of the PE offer in many schools and it is delivered across many schools in Scotland. As I said, we continue to invest in Scottish Swimming to support its work in providing opportunity.
If the committee is minded to make a recommendation on the matter, we will continue to look at it. We will continue to work in dialogue with politicians, particularly on budgetary discussions. Whether committee members want to press for such funding is up to them. We support swimming and recognise its importance in young people’s lives. That is why swimming is delivered in schools across the country.
I have a final point that is about volunteering, which we have not yet covered. We found that many clubs and organisations rely on a key person, such as a coach or a volunteer, and the situation can be pretty precarious if that person becomes ill, retires or moves on. What is being done to encourage many more volunteers into sporting activity and coaching?
A lot of work happens at local level and a lot of work goes on through our sporting governing bodies to support volunteers and volunteering opportunities. Sportscotland offers support, too. The programme for government has an explicit commitment to being more strategic in how we support volunteering across the board.
We have fantastic examples of volunteering across the country outwith sport, such as children’s panels and a host of things. We will also use the opportunity of the year of young people next year to ensure that young people understand the benefits that they can get from volunteering. As I said in my opening remarks, there have been 19,000 volunteers under the active schools programme, who have been pivotal to that programme.
Thank you, minister.11:11 Meeting continued in private until 12:02.