Playing sport helps children improve their learning in core subjects including English and maths, a new survey claims.
Children who regularly play sport achieved grades that were 14 per cent higher than national averages in English, while the figures for maths were 4 per cent higher, according to the study.
The findings come from research into an initiative run by broadcaster Sky and the Youth Sport Trust to encourage pupils to be more active. The Living for Sport scheme has been taken up by more than 1,000 schools since it was set up seven years ago, with around 27,000 pupils participating.
Researchers also found that playing sport boosts children's self-confidence and improves their attitudes to learning.
Nearly one-third of those in the survey, which involved more than 2,000 pupils, teachers and pupils from 22 schools across the UK, said sport inspired them to go on to study further.
"There are so many success stories being delivered through the partnerships," said Youth Sport Trust chief executive Steve Grainger. "PE and school sport can make a major contribution to improving our society, raising achievement and attainment in schools."
The latest findings follow concerns that school sport could be seriously damaged by funding cuts.
Around #163;160 million in annual ring-fenced funding for school sport - part of which is used to fund the school sport partnerships, which promote sport in schools - will now be axed from next April. The money is due to be put into general school budgets, leaving heads to decide how the money is spent.
However, following an outcry over the plans, prime minister David Cameron said last week that he was listening to advice on school sport and would make an announcement soon.