Sport Wales adopts Whitehead’s definition of physical literacy, namely: “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life” . Physical literacy is considered a ‘holistic’ concept and acknowledges the physical, affective, and cognitive domains as equally important . Sport Wales’ definition is comprised of physical skills, confidence, motivation, knowledge and understanding and lots of opportunities.
What is Physical Literacy?
Physical skill + confidence + motivation + opportunity = Physical Literacy
Sport Wales continues a focus on physical literacy with a group of physical literacy consultants appointed to support the work of national governing bodies of sport. This alters the focus to a more community and lifelong approach supporting the national governing bodies to reflect principles of physical literacy in their work.
There were no set benchmarks from the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance for this indicator. However, The Research Work Group explored the best available representative data to assign a physical literacy grade. In doing this, the Group divided the concept into four sub-indicators: Physical Competence, Motivation, Confidence and Physical Activity as a behaviour that was representative of physical literacy.
There was no available data for the cognitive (Knowledge and Understanding) domain. However, there were data from six sources to support a score in Physical Competence, Motivation, Confidence and Physical Activity.
- The HAPPEN survey (2018-2020), children aged 8 to 11 years (n=1,329)
- The School Sport Survey (2018), children aged 7-16 years (n=118,893)
- The Further Education Sport and Active Lifestyles Survey (2018), students aged 16+ years (n=3,857)
- Dragon Challenge (2014-2020), children aged 9 12 years (n=4555)
- Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Movement ABC) (2018), children aged 5 – 7 years (n=92)
Deciding on a grade
Physical Competence -33.8%
The Dragon Challenge showed that 65% of children achieved bronze and silver categories whilst 35% of children achieved gold, showing good levels of competence. More girls than boys in the bronze and silver categories for girls, those living in quintile one (most deprived) had a significantly lower adjusted mean DC score than quintiles two, four, and five (least deprived). While for boys, adjusted mean Dragon Challenge score was significantly lower in quintile one compared to quintiles three, and five. The Movement ABC Data showed that 67.4% of the children scored under the 15th percentile: 48.9% were ‘red category’,18.5% were ‘amber category,’ 32.6% were classed as having no movement difficulty (‘green category’).
Confidence - 69.4%
The HAPPEN Survey highlighted that 86% ‘feel confident to take part in lots of different activities,’ and 83% ‘feel good at lots of different activities.’ Whilst the Sport Wales, School Sport Survey showed that 79.8% ‘confident in trying new activities’ and 58.7% comfortable in taking part in PE lessons and school sport.’ The Further Education (FE) Sport and Active Lifestyle Survey reported that 54.5% were ‘confident in trying new sports.’
Motivation - 64.9%
The HAPPEN Survey showed that 92% ‘want to take part in physical activity’ whilst in the Sport Wales, School Sport Survey 62.9% reported that they ‘enjoy PE lessons a lot.’ In the FE Sport and Active Lifestyle Survey 40% ‘enjoy doing sport when not at college a lot.’
Physical Activity - 19%
The SHRN data showed that 18% of 11-to-16-year olds were active for at least 60 minutes across all seven days (26% Year 7; 12% Year 11). This reduces to 14.4% when looking at MVPA (20.0% in Year 7; 9.5% Year 11). The HAPPEN Survey showed that 20% were ‘physically active for one hour or more every day.’
Based on the scores from the subcategories giving an overall score of 46.7%, the Research Work Group decided to grade Physical Literacy as C-. It is important to recognise that levels of confidence and motivation are considerably higher in the younger age groups and there is a noticeable decline across the age group from Primary to FE.
Current research still does not account for the holistic nature of the concept. Research tends to consider the domains separately and there is limited research that considers interactions between the domains. As such, there is a need to be more consideration of qualitative and mixed methods approaches to capture more experiences of physical literacy journey.
How to improve
Investment from Welsh Government in this concept via Sport Wales continues to be implemented, which could aid in improving the grade. Whilst the new curriculum within Wales may mean greater focus on more holistic aspects of concept. There is a potential for work in Sport Wales with Physical Literacy consultants and Welsh Institute for Physical Activity Health and Sport for opportunities to consider different forms of data for assessing Physical Literacy which could be used in future Report Cards.