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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people
  3. Physical education in schools
  4. Collaboration and partnerships

National strategy(ies)

The German constitution states that responsibilities are divided between the federal government and the federal states (Bundesländer), so the federal government's sports policy is oriented towards this structure. The government sees that its main priority is to fund elite sports in order to promote a positive image internationally. The Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesinnenministerium) is responsible at the federal (national) level. Sports funding in schools and for the general public is the responsibility of the federal states and/or local communities.

Strategic documents, action plans, initiatives to promote sports and physical activity

The National Action Plan IN FORM (Nationaler Aktionsplan IN FORM) aims to improve attitudes to nutrition and physical activity in Germany. Children and young people are one of its key target groups. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a joint goal of the federal government, the federal states (Bundesländer) and local communities. In addition to government backing, the National Action Plan is also supported by the health sector, civil society, the economy and the media.

Overview of supporting organisations (in German). Interim Report of IN Form (2018).

The National Recommendations for Physical Activity and Physical Activity Promotion (Nationale Empfehlungen für Bewegung und Bewegungsförderung) were developed by a group of scientists for the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesgesundheitsministerium) and published in 2016. The recommendations aim to provide a scientific basis for the promotion of physical activity and are directed mainly at experts, decision-makers and communication multipliers. The recommendations are special for two reasons: firstly, they are the first scientifically backed, systematically researched recommendations to be issued in Germany and, secondly, the first to systematically link recommendations on physical activity and the promotion of physical activity, including on an international level. A task force to promote physical activity in daily life (Arbeitsgruppe "Bewegungsförderung im Alltag") commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit) will guide the transfer of theory into practice. The recommendations refer explicitly to children and young people as one of the target groups (See information on physical activity recommendations for children and young people on pages 25 to 32 and on promoting physical activity among children and young people on pages 73 to 84 in the National Recommendations).

The declaration by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) on safeguarding the quality of sports lessons in primary education entitled ‘Exercise, play and sport as an opportunity' (Bewegung, Spiel und Sport als Chance nutzen) (resolution dated 16 April 2009) sets out the KMK's position on physical education in primary education. See also school sports websites of the federal states (Bundesländer).

Some examples from the federal states (Bundesländer):

  • Baden-Württemberg:

Framework agreement on exercise, play and sport of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg (Rahmenvereinbarung über Bewegung, Spiel und Sport des Landes Baden-Württemberg) The Framework agreement between the Baden-Württemberg state sports association and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of Baden-Württemberg on exercise, play and sport in non-formal physical education and early childhood education Baden-Württemberg (Rahmenvereinbarung zwischen Landessportverband Baden-Württemberg e.V.  und Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg über Bewegung, Spiel und Sport im außerunterrichtlichen Schulsport und in der frühkindlichen Bildung) was signed in April 2014 and is the result of many years of active cooperation between schools and sports clubs.

Voluntary Social Year in Sport and School (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr Sport und Schule) The Voluntary Social Year in Sport and School (FSJ Sport und Schule) format initiated by the State Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Kultusministerium) and the Sport in Schools Foundation (Stiftung Sport in der Schule) and developed together with Baden-Württemberg state sports association (Landessportverband Baden-Württemberg, LSV) was piloted in the 2013/2014 academic year. Volunteers focus on extracurricular sports (exercise breaks; exercise, play and sport groups; school sports competitions, etc.). The project became a permanent programme from the 2016/2017 school year on.

  • Berlin:

Partnership on health and physical education in Berlin The accident insurance fund (Unfallkasse Berlin), in partnership with Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Science (Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Wissenschaft) published a guide called 'More courage – reasons not to fear physical education' (Mehr Mut! – Keine Angst im Schulsport) on health in and as a result of physical education.

The guide tackles safety issues, the environment, nutrition, participation in and exemption from physical education classes, special weather conditions and physical resilience.

  • North Rhine-Westphalia:

Partnerships between schools, child day care centres and sports clubs in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Afternoon exercise, play and sports groups at all-day schools promote personal development and the health of children and young people. The NRW state government is expanding the programme and strengthening the involvement of sports clubs in the school day. A framework agreement was signed on 30 August 2011 entitled ‘Exercise, play and sport in all-day schools and facilities' (Bewegung, Spiel und Sport in Ganztagsschulen und Ganztagsangeboten) .

Programme: 1000 X 1000 – recognition for sports clubs (1000 X 1000 – Anerkennung für den Sportverein) Since 2013, as part of a partnership with the North Rhine-Westphalia sports federation (Landessportbund NRW), the former North Rhine-Westphalia State Ministry for Family Affairs, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport (Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen), now Ministry for Children, Family Affairs, Refugees and Integration (Ministerium für Kinder, Familie, Flüchtlinge und Integration) has encouraged sports clubs to get involved in physical education at all-day schools and child day care centres. Every year, 1 000 000 euros are made available to the programme from the federal state budget.

The state-wide programme 'Sports clubs in all-day schools and child day care centres' (Sportvereine in Ganztag und Kindertageseinrichtungen) aims to strengthen partnerships between sports clubs and schools/child day care centres.

School/sports club tandems Cooperation between physical education advisers and experts from city and regional sports associations (Stadt- und Kreissportbünde) brings schools and sports clubs closer together.

The set-up of adviser tandem teams is an important step towards establishing and supporting structures in schools and clubs across local communities. The North Rhine-Westphalia state sports federation (Landessportbund NRW) receives funding from the State Ministry and from the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) to set up expert positions in city and regional sports associations.

  • Saxony-Anhalt:

School and sport partnerships Section 1 of the Act to promote sports and physical activity (Sportfördergesetz) aims to promote sports in a variety of ways, including by strengthening partnerships between sports clubs and schools (Zusammenarbeit von Schulen und Sportvereinen).

Partnerships with schools focus on the following key areas:

1. Ongoing development of the elite sports schools 2. More promotion of physical activity for individual pupils 3. Stronger involvement in sports by pupils on a volunteer basis

Physical education assistant training In the 2011/2012 school year, the Saxony-Anhalt state association of PE teachers (Sportlehrerverband Sachsen-Anhalt) launched an initiative to train school pupils as physical education assistants. They learn how to prepare and carry out school sports events with physical education teachers. Pupils get the opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility and their social skills. The training can also prepare pupils to enter instructor training and lay the foundation for involvement in volunteer work in the future.

More information: Sachsen-Anhalt: Zusammenarbeit Sport und Schule

  • Schleswig-Holstein:

Initiative: No child without sport (Kein Kind ohne Sport) The former State Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (Ministerium für Inneres und Bundesangelegenheiten) [now: Ministry of Interior Affairs, Rural Areas and Integration of Schleswig-Holstein (Ministerium für Inneres, ländliche Räume und Integration)], together with Schleswig-Holstein Sports Youth (Sportjugend Schleswig-Holstein), launched a state-wide information and networking campaign called 'No child without sport' (Kein Kind ohne Sport). It aims to encourage sports clubs, local communities, schools and nursery schools to start new projects. The projects should help socially disadvantaged children and young people to access club sports.

Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people

The main initiative to promote fitness and physical activity among young people is the National Action Plan IN FORM (Nationaler Aktionsplan IN FORM). See National Strategies.

Personal and team development with German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend, dsj) The main aim is to help dsj member organisations establish training programmes and competitive events that help the personal development of young athletes by teaching sports-related skills and much more. The model developed to promote psycho-social skills – and its implementation in specific individual sports – aims to give the youth organisations of the dsj's umbrella associations the opportunity to use their core competencies to trigger the processes in children and young people that are generally associated with sports activities:

  • strengthen social skills
  • develop a realistic self-image or
  • improve teamwork

German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend) has published many resources to support teamwork in sport (Publikationen).

Programme: Sport: Alliances! Exercise – Education – Participation (Sport: Bündnisse! Bewegung – Bildung – Teilhabe) German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend, dsj) launched the programme Sport: Alliances! Exercise – Education – Participation (Sport: Bündnisse! Bewegung – Bildung – Teilhabe) in June 2013. It was financed from public funds by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) as part of the government funding initiative 'Culture builds strength – Alliances for education' (Kultur macht stark. Bündnisse für Bildung). More than 300 education alliances from all over Germany, made up of sports clubs, sports organisations and institutions such as universities, aid organisations and youth centres, have launched programmes to promote exercise, education and participation among educationally disadvantaged children and young people. New funding target group since 2016: refugees up to the age of 26 (Neue Zielgruppe seit 2016: Geflüchtete bis 26 Jahre).

Funding initiative: ZI:EL+ From 1 January 2016, the funding initiative ZI:EL (2013-2015) was continued as ZI:EL+ 'Investing in the future: development of young commitment to sport' (Zukunftsinvestition: Entwicklung jungen Engagements im Sport!), part of the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes). The main aim of the funding initiative is to promote involvement by youngsters for and with other young people who have difficulty accessing sports programmes. Part of the goal is to find new areas for engagement and (further) develop support formats. In particular, model programmes on inclusion, integration and help for educationally disadvantaged young people are to be implemented (Konzeption ZI:EL+). Target groups of the funding initiative ZI:EL+ :

  • young people with disabilities
  • young people with migrant backgrounds
  • young people at an educational disadvantage
  • young refugees

Youth Training for Olympia (Jugend trainiert für Olympia) The national school competition Youth Training for Olympia (Jugend trainiert für Olympia)was launched in 1969. It is the biggest competition in Germany to promote extracurricular school sports. National competitions across 15 Olympic disciplines are held using a tournament system starting at local and district level, through to state and national finals. Talented young athletes aged from 8 to 19 years old can enter for their school teams. The YOUTH TRAINING FOR OLYMPIA Commission (Kommission JUGEND TRAINIERT FÜR OLYMPIA) of German School Sports Foundation (Deutsche Schulsportstiftung) plans, holds and develops the competition. The competition takes place every year.

Special target groups: a separate competition Youth Training for the Paralympics (Jugend trainiert für Paralympics) with seven disciplines was introduced in 2010 for children and young people with disabilities.

Supporters: Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Inneren), Berlin Senate Department (Senatsverwaltung der Stadt Berlin), German Olympic Academy (Deutsche Olympische Akademie).

Physical education in schools

The federal states (Bundesländer) are responsible for school education in Germany. The result is that physical activity is integrated into formal education to different extents in each state. In primary and secondary schools, physical education is mandatory and takes up 3 to 5 hours of the weekly timetable. There are also a number of volunteer activities, such as the active structuring of school breaks or physical activity in all-day schools.

The Federal Youth Games (Bundesjugendspiele) are annual sports events for schools. They are mainly for years 1 to 6 and aim to introduce pupils to gymnastics, track and field, and swimming. The Federal Youth Games are funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend), the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) and German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend).

The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) has created a syllabus database (Lehrplandatenbank). The database contains basic information on the syllabuses, such as school type and subject, as well as contact addresses for publishing houses or ministries and links to the full versions of the syllabuses if the state ministries of education, state institutes or publishers have published them online (some are subject to a charge).

Initiatives and syllabuses in the federal states (Bundesländer)
  • Baden-Württemberg:

Initiative: School with a physical education profile (Schule mit sport- und bewegungserzieherischem Schwerpunkt) The School with a physical education profile initiative of the Baden-Württemberg State Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport (Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport) and the Baden-Württemberg State Institute for Physical Education, Art and Music in Schools (Landesinstitut für Schulsport, Schulkunst und Schulmusik) uses a range of ways to promote exercise and physical education in classes and everyday life in Baden-Württemberg's schools. The general concept of 'PE- and exercise-friendly schools' in Baden-Württemberg was developed further in the year 2000 as part of a physical education campaign with initiatives such as 'Primary school with a physical education profile' (Grundschule mit sport- und bewegungserzieherischem Schwerpunkt, GSB).

Initiative: Physical education mentor (Schülermentor/-in Sport) The Physical education mentor initiative makes a valuable contribution to school life. Together with the state sports association and the various sports federations, about 20365 young people have been trained as physical education mentors by the end of the 2015/2016 school year. Once they successfully completed their training, the physical education mentors jointly lead and supervise groups as part of school projects, task forces, competitions, etc. with the help of an instructor. This gives young people the opportunity to get involved in challenging tasks from an early age and to take responsibility for themselves and for others. Experiences over the years have clearly shown that this approach is a useful addition to formal physical education and is valuable for encouraging young people to continue their volunteer commitments in later life.

Initiative: Fit for learning and life (Fit für Lernen und Leben) Regional teams of sports specialists (Regionalteam Sport) in the state education authorities are made up of instructors who offer school-based further training for primary school teachers on 'Fit for learning and life'. This training explains the positive connections between exercise and sport on the one hand, and school learning success and socio-emotional development on the other

  • Bavaria:

The current physical education syllabus (Fachlehrpläne Sport) for primary schools, middle schools, secondary comprehensives, schools for children with learning difficulties, vocational colleges and grammar schools can be found on the website of the State Institute for School Quality and Education Research in Munich (Staatsinstitut für Schulqualität und Bildungsforschung München, ISB).

Physical education in upper secondary at grammar schools The curriculum for all school pupils in years 11 and 12 includes physical education as a mandatory subject. Pupils with a special interest in physical education can choose sport as a practical written or practical oral university entrance qualification (Abitur) exam subject by attending an additional sports theory class. They can also attend physical education seminars as a main subject if offered by the school. The regulations on holding physical education lessons in years 11 and 12 (Durchführung des Sportunterrichts in den Jahrgangsstufen 11 und 12) are set out in a pronouncement dated 1 December 2008 (KWMBl ref. 1/2009).

Initiative: School in motion (Bewegte Schule) The initiatives 'Primary school in motion' (Bewegte Grundschule) and 'School in motion' (Bewegte Schule) aim to ensure that all schools make better allowance for children and young people's need for exercise and offer more physical activity programmes in lessons and during breaks. As physical education is the only subject to teach basic motor skills and abilities, the initiative wants schools to encourage pupils to get moving both in and out of class and provide other opportunities for physical activity. The long-term goal of promoting physical activity in schools is to develop lasting attitudes to exercise in adolescents using a holistic educational approach to counteract the increasingly prevalent effects of sedentary lifestyles.

  • Berlin:

Information about the framework curriculum for physical education as a school subject in the different school years is available on the website of the Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Science (Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Familie)

Physical education in Berlin schools includes a broad range of official school sports competitions (Offizielle Schulsportwettbewerbe) in various fields, which all schools can take part in provided they meet the school year and competition class requirements.

  • Hesse:

The inclusion of physical activity in school life plays an important role in schools in Hesse. The field of 'School & health' (Schule & Gesundheit) covers a wide range of subjects relating to exercise and perception.

Successful examples of the practical implementation of exercise and perception concepts in school life are found on the 'School & health' homepage (Schule & Gesundheit).

Hesse state sports association (Landessportbund Hessen e.V.), Hesse sports youth (Sportjugend Hessen e.V.), the Hessian Ministry of the Interior and Sports (Hessisches Ministerium des Inneren und für Sport) and the Hessian Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (Hessisches Kultusministerium) have jointly developed concepts for all-day schools to give pupils adequate opportunity for physical activity. Sport and exercise are given high priority. One concept is the state programme 'Schools and sports clubs – working together for an active day' (Schule und Sportverein – gemeinsam für einen bewegten Tag). As part of this programme, sports clubs partner with schools and offer opportunities for physical activity, e.g. in task forces.

  • North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW):

Framework requirements for physical education in schools (1 December 2014) (Rahmenvorgaben für den Schulsport)

An edict (Erlass) by the Ministries of School and Further Education (Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung) and for Family Affairs, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports (Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport) of North Rhine-Westphalia dated 1 July 2012 governs quality development and support services in physical education in schools.

Initiativprogramm “Auch im Schulsport Spitze”, a programme to strengthen school sports in North Rhine-Westphalia that was launched on 23 April 2002 by the then state ministry for urban development, housing, culture and sports (Ministerium für Städtebau und Wohnen, Kultur und Sport) serves to ensure that an adequate amount of physical education remains on the core curriculum of schools. In addition, it foresees additional sports and exercise activities.

  • Saxony:

Physical education in schools in the Free State of Saxony is split into three levels:

  • Saxon State Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, Division 32 (Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Kultus, Referat 32) The division's responsibilities include setting the content of physical education lessons and providing inter-regional professional support. It also looks after the state-wide organisation of extracurricular school sports and represents the Free State of Saxony nationwide in matters of physical education in schools.
  • School sports experts at Saxon Education Agency (Sächsische Bildungsagentur) These experts provide professional regional support for physical education lessons and organise extracurricular school sports on a regional level.
  • Physical education coordinators These coordinators assist a clearly defined number of schools with extracurricular activities.

See the Administrative act (Verwaltungsvorschrift) on the structure of physical education in schools dated 10 December 2014.

See also school sports competitions and campaigns by the Saxon State Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs (Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Kultus).

Sport in vocational training A federal working committee for sport in vocational training (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Sport in der beruflichen Bildung) has been set up. Its aim is to promote sport during vocational training in both formal and non-formal learning contexts. It also encourages collaboration between institutes and agencies responsible for sport.

The syllabuses of the vocational colleges can be found on the website of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz).

Collaboration and partnerships

There are no further specific political programmes, initiatives or funding measures to create partnerships between formal education, non-formal education, health experts and sports associations at a national (federal) level other than those listed under Sport, youth fitness and physical activity.