Midlothian As

Spotlight on Active Schools

Active Schools network make an impact on women and girls in sport

March marks Women and Girls in Sport month at sportscotland, and there is plenty to celebrate across the sporting system. The Active Schools (AS) network is committed to creating a more inclusive sporting landscape for girls to develop and thrive in sport. We spoke to Active Schools teams in Midlothian and Falkirk to find out about the impact they’re having on getting more girls active in their local areas.  

Understanding the barriers

Midlothian Fit for Girls (FFG) Committee, a group of 15 members representing five high schools who have a passion to grow girls' sport in the local area, met for the first time this year. The committee enjoyed an interactive FFG workshop which took place at Lasswade Centre and was delivered by sportscotland tutors, Roisin, Rebecca & Heather. Active Schools Midlothian commented:

“We have now run multiple FFG workshops throughout Midlothian with our Girls’ Committee which has grown this year. These interactive workshops have really helped to understand barriers to participation in disengaged girls – it has been empowering for the girls to work together and hear about each other’s experiences and stories.”

One of the Fit for Girls participants involved said:

“It wasn’t just about our school, although a lot of them were similar – the workshop involved all schools in Midlothian, and it was interesting to find out about a wide range of barriers and helped us to think of ways to address them together – it was interesting to hear other girls’ opinions and stories.”

Active Schools Falkirk started a Girls' Sport Forum in March 2020 with the idea of creating a network of local girls to support the development of more sporting opportunities in their schools and the local area. Active Schools Falkirk told us:

“We targeted S3/S4 girls as we found this was the age where dropout rates were high and we wanted to understand the reasons behind this, the barriers the girls were facing and how we could try and find solutions."

"We ran events both in school and cluster-based to support Women and Girls in Sport Week as well as International Women’s Day.”

Raising the profile of women and girls’ sport

March is dedicated to celebrating stories of women and girls in sport across Scotland, and championing inclusion of women and girls at all levels of the sporting system.

Active Schools Midlothian said:

“We think it’s really helpful and impactful to have a month to focus on women and girls – this is a target group for us, specifically in high school aged girls, as around S2/3 is when girls’ participation in sport and physical activity tends to drop off.”

Active Schools Falkirk added:

“It’s really useful to have a focus on girls’ and women’s sport as this can highlight the opportunity and availability of female-only sport, creating role models to inspire the next generation and the benefits that sport can have on them in all aspects of life. We believe that the saying ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ is very true!”

Hollie Howland, pupil at Falkirk High School and U18s Scotland International Rugby player, commented:

“The benefits of sport are far reaching; they allow you to be the best person you can be. By being involved in sport, it allows you to form lifelong friendships, unforgettable memories, have a sense of belonging, develop new skills and become healthier and happier.”

Making an impact

Listening to and valuing the voice of women and girls, and creating opportunities for them to participate, can make a significant impact on the experiences they have within sport.

Active Schools Midlothian commented:

The work we do highlights how important it is for girls to have a variety of opportunities to take part in sport and allow girls the chance to have a voice and address any issues/concerns about taking part in sport. It creates an opportunity for change and for girls to be at forefront of this through consultation and collaboration.”

Some of the girls who participated in the session offered feedback, highlighting:

“We felt important and like girls taking part in exercise was a priority – it made us feel valued and what we want matters”.

Active Schools Falkirk said:

“The girls from the forum have told us their confidence has increased, they have supported more activity sessions in their schools and have developed their leadership skills over their time with us. After their year on the forum, they have the opportunity to become mentors for the next cohort of girls, a challenge many have taken up and are succeeding with!”

Key learnings

There’s plenty of learning from both teams to help inform what they’ll do next to continue to improve sport for women and girls.

Active Schools Falkirk emphasised:

“We have learned that girls want to try sports that are not usually offered in the PE curriculum and different activities from the ‘norm’."

"This keeps it more relaxed, fun, and sociable for them, creating a comfortable and positive environment for them to participate and not feel judged. Every school / area / cluster will be different, so it is just a case of speaking to the girls themselves, getting feedback and finding solutions together.”

Active Schools Midlothian told us:

“I think we have learned that some girls need encouragement to speak up about how they feel about sport within their school or community – some of them feel alone and like they are the only ones that feel that way – using the interactive tools in the Fit for Girls workshops and creating a girls' committee, where they can share their views and experiences, allows girls to feel like they are part of something and their feelings are valid and valued.”

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