Are primary school children becoming ‘physically illiterate’?

Susan Campbell expresses concerns about the physical activity of primary school children.

Susan Campbell, the head of UK Sport, has recently expressed concerns over the health of 11 year olds moving onto secondary schools. She claims many children are ‘physically illiterate’ and unable to run, jump, throw or catch – all the fundamental movement skills of sport. She claims many primary school teachers lack the confidence to teach PE as they have not had the proper training and therefore are not specialist PE teachers.

ESP Multi-skills

We applaud Sue for bringing this to the public eye but at ESP we know this is nothing new. For years we have been addressing the situation and investing in extensive research on how to build the vocabulary of skills required to participate confidently and competently in sport. Our multi-skills zone was subject to a range of independent research carried out by Roehampton University, Leeds Metropolitan University and Liverpool University which confirms:

  • Proven increases in levels of physical activity.
  • Substantial improvements in fundamental movement skills such as catching, kicking, throwing and running.
  • Proven increases in the participation in sport.

Ask any school who has taken advantage of our multi-skills packages and they won’t be telling you that their pupils are ‘physically illiterate’.

Our multi-skills playground markings were designed to engage children in activities which build upon their fundamental movement skills, such as those mentioned in Sue’s speech. These skills can be applied to a number of sports, whilst many of the activities also incorporate cross-curricular links and provide a whole school benefit.

The success of our multi-skills zone is due to the range of CPD training awards that we actively deliver to non-specialist teachers in order to increase their knowledge and know how to deliver effective physical education lessons. The professional development board of afPE have nationally accredited our multi-skills training awards and continue to assist us in the quality assurance of the delivery. Delegate evaluations confirm that our CPD training awards are informative and inspirational. These sessions provide staff with solutions to teach fundamental movement skills to children. When the time comes, children will be ready for the big shift to secondary sport.

You can read the full report here.

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