Research shows that a large proportion of children are not able to perform motor skills at an age-appropriate level (e.g. running, jumping, hopping, throwing and balancing), or meet recommended levels of physical activity. These two factors are known to be linked, with poor motor skills contributing to low levels of physical activity. Poor motor skill development has also been linked to lower levels of fitness and academic achievement as well as increased likelihood of physical and mental health problems that can last into adulthood. The Chief Medical Officer recognises that early help for young children can address these issues, and has suggested that schools are the ideal setting.

The Wolfson CAER Motor Skills Action Project aims to identify, develop and test novel and existing outcome measures, interventions and treatments that could improve children’s motor skills and address the difficulties associated with poor motor skills.

Specific Projects

FUNMOVES: A new measure of fundamental movement skills

There are practical issues with using existing measures of fundamental motor skills (FMS) in schools, including that they are often costly (approximately £900) and take a long time to administer (an hour per child). A new measure of FMS (FUNMOVES) is being developed to address these limitations, ensuring that tasks are appraised for content, scoring and practical use. FUNMOVES is a teacher-led assessment tool that can measure the FMS proficiency of a whole class in under two hours, using equipment readily available in schools. The assessment consists of six activities, related to six different FMS (running, jumping, hopping, throwing, kicking and static balance), each of which has increasing levels of difficulty.  Children are scored by the highest level of each activity successfully completed. Children scoring below average for their age will be identified as needing additional support.  The assessment tool is currently in the development phase, and will be tested for validity, reliability, feasibility and acceptability in the near future.

To find out more about this project, contact Lucy Eddy.

The Alps

The Alps is a motor skills programme that includes motor skill activities that evidence suggests are helpful for improving children’s fundamental motor skills.  However, in previous research, these activities were delivered by trained experts such as physiotherapists. We want to see if The Alps will deliver benefits to children when they are delivered by teaching assistants. This research has two parts: first, the development of a manual which will enable teaching assistants to deliver the activities effectively; and then a pilot of the manual in which teaching assistants use the manual to deliver the activities, under observation by qualified physiotherapist who has experience of delivering these interventions.

Following the conclusion of these research studies, we will be developing the methodology, team and resources to test The Alps in a large randomised controlled trial. As well as evaluate changes in children’s motor skills following participation in a lengthy programme of The Alps activities, we will evaluate the differences in children’s physical activity levels, educational attainment and self-confidence.

You can find out more about the project on the recruitment leaflet. If you would like further information, please contact Dr Nick Preston.

Research outputs

Eddy, L., Wood, M. L., Shire, K., Bingham, D. D., Bonnick, E., Creaser, A., … & Hill, L. (2019). A systematic review of randomised and case-controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of school-based motor-skill interventions in 3-12 year-old children. Child: Care, Health and Development.

Meet the team

Dr Nick Preston

Action Project Leader and Research Fellow

Dr Liam Hill

Lecturer

Dr Katy Shire

Senior Research Fellow

Lucy Eddy

PhD Student