Fundamental Movement Skills of Children Living in England: The Role of Ethnicity and Native Language

Emma Eyre, Michael Duncan, Leanne Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The development of fundamental movement skills (FMS) has been associated with children’s general health, and, while there is evidence to suggest that age, gender, physical activity, and socioeconomic status relate to FMS, the relationship of ethnicity and language barriers to FMS competence has been underexplored. These factors may be of particular interest for South Asian (SA) children who have lower physical activity and increased risk of metabolic disease. This cross-sectional study examined ethnic and language differences in FMS among 218 ethnically diverse five-year-old children (61 White ethnic background, 91 SA, 29 Black ethnic background, and 37 other), some with English as a native language (n = 90) and some with English as an additional language (n = 75), all recruited from within central England. Each child was assessed performing five locomotor skills (run, gallop, hop, leap, and jump) and six object skills (catch, kick, bounce, strike, underarm roll, and overarm throw) on the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 . A 2 (gender) × 4 (ethnicity) factor analysis of covariance assessed differences in the locomotor and object composite scores and total FMS score, while controlling for body mass index. A two-factor analysis of covariance assessed native language differences in their impact on FMS. We found ethnic and gender differences in FMS (p < .05) in that SA children had poorer total FMS and locomotor scores than children of either White or Black ethnic backgrounds (p = .004, p = .001, and p = .008, p = .002, respectively). Girls had poorer total (p = .001) and locomotor FMS skills (p < .001). Children with English as an additional language had similar FMS scores compared to children whose native language was English (p > .05). The findings of low FMS competency in SA children and girls, irrespective of body mass index, suggest that developmentally appropriate interventions targeting SA children and girls are needed in early years. We discuss some unclear factors related to these differences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number1
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • culture
  • English language
  • motor development,
  • South Asian
  • children


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