Building a better future for children’s sports in Scotland

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Data for Children Collaborative has launched a vital report that examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and their participation in sport.

Data for Children Collaborative, a specialist unit at Edinburgh Futures Institute, has launched a vital report that examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and their participation in sport on 19 June.

The report is based on a two-year transdisciplinary collaborative project led by the Data for Children Collaborative, driven by a ‘challenge question’ raised by the Observatory for Sport Scotland (OSS): “Where and how has Covid-19 impacted children’s access to recreational sports across Scotland?”

The Data for Children Collaborative brought together a multi-disciplinary team of a further five delivery partners to work on the project:  Abertay University, Optima Connect, Urban Foresight, Mulier Institute, and Information Answers.

The report examines how the Covid-19 pandemic affected children and young people’s access to sports and physical activity, highlighting the lasting negative effects for many children who never returned to pre-Covid-19 sporting activities.

Based on an extensive analysis of the data landscape and interviews with children, their families, and sports organisations across Scotland, the report’s recommendations can support the Scottish Government’s efforts to embed children’s rights through the development of a robust national sports strategy.


The report’s core recommendations focus on four themes that should be included in future strategy:

  1. Improve data. There are significant gaps in the understanding of children’s sport in Scotland. A future strategy should bring Scotland in line with the latest data-driven approaches taken in other countries.
  2. Avoid a ‘lost generation’ of children who experienced the pandemic. Qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests that some effects of Covid-19 risk becoming permanent. Policy and operational attention should focus on increasing opportunities for the generation who experienced the pandemic as they grow up.
  3. Restore access to pre-pandemic levels. Since the pandemic, many facilities have yet to re-open. The report suggests new ways to increase participation.
  4. Fix the long-term foundations for children’s sports. Covid-19 exacerbated many long-term challenges, particularly around funding and staffing for sport. 

Alex Hutchinson, Director of Data for Children Collaborative said:

“We have been delighted to build the collaborative team that has taken this challenge all the way from concept to recommendations in a thoughtful, multi-pronged way. It is so important to bring data to life with stories – and this project has done just that with a very tangible set of outputs, brought together by a range of contributors working together with a common purpose.”

Download the full report

Further information

Building a Better Future for Children’s Sports in Scotland – Data for Children Collaborative

Gallery of Children’s Drawings – Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland

Assessing the Impact of Covid-19 on Children’s Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland

Understanding Sports Activity in Scotland Through Data

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