Understanding fundamental movement skill development and physical activity in primary school children from different ethnic backgrounds

  • Leanne Adeyemi-Walker

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    INTRODUCTION: Fundamental Movement Skill (FMS) proficiency is low in children in deprived and ethnically diverse areas in the UK during early childhood. These skills are essential for PA engagement which is also low. Exploration of the constraints influencing the low FMS proficiency and PA engagement is limited. The thesis sought to establish prevalence, identify constraints and improve FMS prevalence in this demographic.

    METHOD: Following institutional ethical approval, children and teaching staff were recruited from six primary schools located within deprived wards in Coventry. FMS (process, product and perceived (PMC)), health-related fitness (HRF) and PA were assessed during early and middle childhood. Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to FMS development, PA engagement and PE delivery/planning were obtained through semi-structured focus groups. The quantitative and qualitative findings collectively informed a six-week Integrative Neuromuscular Training (INT) intervention.

    RESULTS: Children in deprived and ethnically diverse areas demonstrated low FMS proficiency, with those from Asian ethnic groups and girls during middle childhood showing the poorest skills. Quantitative and qualitative constraints were identified. The association between FMS and PA was mediated by HRF but not PMC during early and middle childhood. Teaching staff mainly perceived barriers to FMS development and PA engagement within the physical and social environments while key facilitators were identified within the school environment (e.g. physical environment, staff); although it presented obstacles (e.g. lack of priority placed on PE). INT improved FMS (total and locomotor) proficiency although this was not significantly greater than statutory PE. Sprint speed improvements were only maintained in the INT-group however object-control skills, jump distance and hand-grip strength did not change.

    CONCLUSION: FMS proficiency of children living in deprived and ethnically diverse areas is low with different ethnicities, ages and sexes developing disproportionately. Constraints lie within the individual (child), task (FMS) and environmental domains that require adaptations to the statutory PE curriculum (e.g. content and time), greater than the incorporation of INT, to be overcome and improve the low FMS proficiency levels.
    Date of AwardFeb 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorEmma Eyre (Supervisor), Kathryn Cook (Supervisor), Neil Clarke (Supervisor) & Michael Duncan (Supervisor)

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