en cy
c+
National Government Policy, Strategies and Investments

Background

Unlike the other indicators there are no purely objective measures that can be used to inform the report card. However, we did utilise the WHO Europe Health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) policy audit tool (PAT). This tool provided an internationally recognised framework that offers both credibility and potential continuity if used in future. It could also offer potential comparability if adopted across other countries.

In interpreting this indicator we included national policies, strategies, action plans, legislation and a few other advisory and technical documents that have a direct bearing on children’s physical activity, that were still ‘active’. Twenty-one national instruments were identified.

Current Survey Data

Guided by the HEPA PAT tool we considered the evidence relating to key policy domains that influence physical activity in children including: Health, Education, Sport, Transport, Environment, Design & Planning, Play, Sustainable Development, and Cross- cutting (i.e. cut across all policy portfolios). Within each of these domains a range of key ‘elements’ were identified from the HEPA PAT tool refined by the research working group (RWG), that could individually or collectively impact on the effectiveness of the policy instrument. These elements included:

Definitions

The following policy documents were used in assigning a grade to this indicator: Climbing Higher, Creating an Active Wales, the Active Travel Act, Sport Wales, Every Child Hooked on Sport, Play Wales, The Right to Play, Healthy Schools, Future Generations, the National Health Service Together for Health, and the Welsh Government’s Our Healthy Future.

Local policies were not considered in the grading process due to time and resource constraints.

Deciding on a Grade

Whilst the HEPA PAT tool was very helpful in analysing this indicator it was still a largely subjective process, and so a simple scoring system was developed using the ‘elements’ described in the tool. Each element was ascribed a percentage score ‘weighted’ to reflect the element’s perceived importance in translating the policy instruments effectively. So, for example, the number of policies was deemed less important than the identifiable supporting actions. After initial ‘weighting’ by the indicator lead experts, the final weighting was considered, refined and agreed by the whole RWG.

The final scoring matrix was as follows:

  • No. and breadth of relevant policies - 10% (5% No. & 5% Breadth)
  • Identified supporting actions - 20%
  • Identified accountable organisation - 25%
  • Identifiable reporting structures - 15%
  • Identified funding and resources - 20% (5% no. of identified national programmes & 15% funding)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation Plan – 10%

Applying this led to an overall grade of 54% that translates to a C+. Since the 2016 AHK- Wales report card, the Government grade has decreased slightly from B- to C+. One possible explanation for this change may be the use of the HEPA PAT tool in 2018 which made the process less subjective.

Considerations
  • Though still in existence and ‘active’, some of the policies are now quite old. This is important to take into account because some of the original and intended activities, funding mechanisms and delivery systems will have changed over time, particularly during this period that incorporates the global economic downturn that resulted in significant organisational, structural and systemic changes. It should also be noted that a new curriculum is being developed for settings and schools in Wales. Although this proposed curriculum cannot bolster this year’s report card grade, it illustrates future governmental involvement and institutional commitment to the development of relevant polices and strategies to support physical activity among the youth population. Fourteen of the twenty-one policies have identifiable actions related to physical activity although actions specific and relevant to physical activity were limited across Welsh policies, as some only allocated one supporting action or requirement, and others have identified actions that are seemingly too broad.
  • Fourteen of the twenty-one policies identified ‘lead’ organisations, who support and take responsibility for some of the identified physical activity policies and provisions. However, although ‘leads’ have been identified there is often no reference to accountability for the delivery of specific actions in many of the policies. Furthermore, it should be noted that in some cases, accountability is limited to Welsh Government Ministers or a single agency, which could potentially be seen as a problem and reduce overall accountability because often the delivery may be dependent on other organisations or individuals for whom there is no obvious line of accountability or incentive to comply.
  • There were often no apparent chains of command or clear lines of authority, communication and duties. However, it seems evident that in order to improve the effectiveness of physical activity policies and the overall government’s role in implementing them, a clear reporting structure ought to be defined.
  • Five of the twenty-one policies articulated an evaluation and monitoring plan. Although this number is quite low, relative to total number of identified policies, four of the five are mainstream policy areas directly affecting physical activity. Additionally, it is worth noting that of the various types of policy (e.g., legislation, strategy, action plan, guidance) that the RWG identified for this indicator, all of the ‘Action Plans’ outlined monitoring and evaluation strategies. Perhaps this is because action plans are time bound and generally tied to specific measurable objectives or targets and thus easier to evaluate, whereas governmental legislation is on-going and tends to remain broad in scope.
  • Five of the twenty-one policies identified specific funding to support their identified actions. However, most of these were referenced as ‘identifying’ or ‘reviewing’ funding opportunities rather than directly providing evidence of already allocated or dedicated provisions.
  • As part of the government’s commitment to providing and promoting physical activity in Wales, it has supported a number of national programmes designed to increase physical activity among children and young people. The RWG identified nine of these programmes as evidence of national “resources” geared towards increasing physical activity (PA) outcomes, whereby each programme can be seen as a PA opportunity for children, or a promotional initiative to encourage future PA among this population.
Data Sources
  • Welsh Government - link
  • Public Health Wales - link
  • Sport Wales - link
  • Natural Resources Wales - link
  • Play Wales - link
  • Sustrans Cymru - link
  • Future Generations Commissioner for Wales - link
  • Children’s Commissioner for Wales - link
  • Planning Portal - link
  • Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales - link
  • Welsh Local Government Association - link
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