Youth Sport Project provides valuable insights in Auckland school sport system

by Aktive
Published on Tuesday 29 June, 2021
Aktive X Sport NZ Bank 1263 2

An in-depth evaluation of intermediate and secondary school sport led by Aktive is providing valuable insights into the shape and status of school sports in Tāmaki Makaurau. 

Conducted 2018 to 2020, the Youth Sport Project looked at intermediate and secondary school sport structures, development practices, and support required for teachers, coaches, managers and officials to ensure students enjoy, take part in and develop through sport across Auckland. 

Jennah Wootten, CE, Aktive says the Auckland-wide stock take of all current curricular and extracurricular sport provision within intermediate and secondary schools provides important details and direction, particularly as schools consider the impact of COVID-19. 

“The Youth Sport Project is helping inform the provision of sport in intermediate and secondary schools to ensure quality sport experiences, and ultimately to increase participation with our rangatahi,” says Ms Wootten. 

“The data and information are already contributing to improved support opportunities and assisting with the identification and sharing of best practice across the sport and education sectors; all focused on ensuring quality sport development experiences are being designed and delivered.” 

162 Auckland intermediate and secondary schools participated in four surveys as part of the Youth Sport Project. This included three inaugural pieces of research: the Intermediate Schools Survey; the Secondary School Sports Department Survey; and the Sports Leader Development Survey. The Voice of Rangatahi Survey developed by Sport New Zealand was also included in the data, along with the annually collected Secondary Sport New Zealand Census data provided by School Sport New Zealand.  

The inaugural surveys reported knowledge of the importance of physical activity and the desire for students to be more active at both student and staff levels. Interestingly, 50% of students said their schools provide a welcoming, friendly and safe environment for being physically active where fair play is encouraged, and they have access to quality coaches. 

Human resourcing was the most reported challenge across all surveys, specifically accessing, retaining and developing coaches, officials and teachers. Other identified aspects included funding; greater variety of opportunities and more opportunities at a social and friendly level; and the desire to increase participation and engagement of students by providing more in-school opportunities that cater for a wider variety of needs.  

Interestingly, quality and cleanliness of facilities received the highest response rate, with over 400 students commenting on the state of the facilities they use and the impact on their ability and desire to be active. 

“The Youth Sport Project is providing vast and detailed insights into a critical part of our sport and recreation sector – our young people,” says Ms Wootten. “With our community delivery partners CLM Community Sport, College Sport Auckland, Harbour Sport, Sport Auckland and Sport Waitākere, we are reviewing current practice in response to these findings to identify strengths and gaps, as well as aspects that can be modified to better meet the needs of those in the school sport environment.” 

She adds: “There are many quality practices, opportunities and, of course, some challenges for staff and students in Auckland. With a strategically planned and delivered support network, as a response to current local data, the school sports system will continue to develop responsively to the needs of those within it.”  

The Youth Sport Project was developed and delivered to Auckland school sport staff as part of Aktive’s Korikori approach to schools and kura. It has seen input and involvement from Aktive, community delivery partners CLM Community Sport, College Sport Auckland, Harbour Sport, Sport Auckland and Sport Waitākere, and investment from Sport New Zealand. 

More information can be found at: and in the Aktive Resource Hub: which can be accessed for free and includes the Youth Sport Project infographics, toolkits, case studies, videos and guides on a range of sport and recreation topics.