Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are defined as basic skills that provide the foundation needed to develop specialised movement sequences and commit to life-long physical activity. These basic skills are broken into three categories including locomotor, for example run, jump and hop, object control such as catch, kick and over arm throw and stability including static balance. When children are proficient in these skills they often have the confidence required to lead healthy and active lifestyles. Conversely those who have not developed the FMS have reduced self-esteem and frequently avoid physical activities which can compromise a range of necessities including muscle and bone development (Department of Education WA, 2013). Educators should aim to develop these skills in early childhood as it is characterised as the optimal learning stage, factors of the child such as age, interest and physique as well as the environmental factors including opportunities to practice, family and community values also must be considered to effectively develop FMS (Department of Education WA, 2013). The NSW school’s physical activity and nutrition survey (SPANS) highlights that mastery levels of some skills have declined since 2004, there is also a clear sex difference in FMS, with boys showing high levels of mastery in object control skills, contrariwise less than 30% of girls can demonstrate advanced skills for kicking and overarm throw by year 10. However, the prevalence of advanced skills in the leap was generally higher for girls, contributing to the notion that girls are more proficient in locomotor skills (NSW Government, 2010). The SPANS suggest that given the acquisition of FMS is dependent on direct teaching programs such as Get Skilled, Get Active these need to be more dominant in the current curriculum to reverse these declining statistics (NSW Government, 2010). Thus, the need for school-based interventions such as PLUNGE, SCORES and the six-week physical activity intervention to improve children and adolescents FMS is highlighted.

A research project was conducted to analyse the association of levels of physical activity and fundamental movement skill (FMS) mastery. This involved an intervention to determine if “FMS mastery can be increased via a six-week physical activity intervention to have positive effects on physical activity and physical self-perception?” (Birch, Bryant, Duncan, & James, 2016). The intervention group comprising of 82 children (35 boys, 47 girls) and a control group consisting of 83 children (42 boys, 41 girls) in fourth and fifth class from two Central England schools were tested to determine pre-and post-intervention scores for FMS, daily steps and physical self-perception. The experiment group took part in one PE lesson focussing on the development of FMS every week for six weeks and the control group had their regular PE lessons. The FMS focussed lessons included 3 minute intervals of running, balance, kicking, throwing, catching, jumping, hopping and galloping in a circuit with limited rest periods. This study identified that compared to the control group, the intervention group increased significantly in terms of FMS with 3.6%-81.2% classed as having mastery of the skills post-intervention (Birch, Bryant, Duncan, & James, 2016). In regards to physical activity changes the intervention group had higher daily steps, which contributed to the time the group spent partaking in moderate-vigorous physical activity post intervention by 7.8% (Birch, Bryant, Duncan, & James, 2016 as cited in Van Beaurden et al, 2003). Similarly, it was noted that students alleged physical competence scales greatly improved from baseline to post intervention. Despite these results limitations do exist, in terms of daily steps significant decreases were observed compared to post-intervention scores this suggest that physical activity levels have the tendency to revert to baseline figures if not maintained via FMS strategies. If this study was conducted again a possible change in the sample group may produce more effective results, as both the control group and intervention group were taken from the same year it was noted that often in the playground the intervention group were instructing the control group on FMS strategies (Birch, Bryant, Duncan, & James, 2016), thus impacting on the validity of the study. Lastly this study was conducted in only two schools of Central England, it could be argued that this is not an adequate representation of the complete effect school-based interventions have on FMS. From this research, it can be concluded that the intervention of focussing a six week PE program on the development of FMS greatly benefited physical activity levels, self-perceptions and the overall competence of FMS in children from the schools recruited however limitations that could negatively impact outcomes do exist and these must be taken into account.

A study identified as “The supporting children’s outcomes using rewards, exercise and skills intervention (SCORES)” was designed to evaluate how effective a 12-month multicomponent physical activity and FMS intervention was on children attending primary schools in low income communities (Callister, Cohen, Lubans, Morgan, Plotnikoff, 2015). This was achieved via a cluster randomized controlled trial consisting of 460 children, whom were assessed on their physical activity, FMS competency and cardiorespiratory fitness at baseline, mid-program (6 months) and post-intervention (12 months). The SCORES intervention was implemented in three phases, focussing on teacher learning, student leadership workshops, physical activity policies to aid the FMS competency and strategies to improve school-community links (Callister, Cohen, Lubans, Morgan, Plotnikoff, 2015). When students were assessed 6 months into the program no significant effects were evident, however post-intervention testing demonstrated a 1.2% improvement in moderate-vigorous physical activity levels, cardiorespiratory fitness was increased by over 5% and overall fundamental movement skills were enhanced by 4.9% (Callister, Cohen, Lubans, Morgan, Plotnikoff, 2015). This increase was observed in both the intervention and control groups, however improvements were much greater in the intervention group, this was the result of student-centred teaching in a mastery climate with focus on success, challenge and autonomy. A limitation of this study is evident in the use of accelerometer data, of which only a small number of participants actually provided data that could be included in the research, disadvantaged areas are also less likely to provide reliable data which become problematic as this intervention was implemented into low income areas. Similarly, to the intervention discussed above, the sample group involved 460 students from one area which has the ability to demonstrate trends dissimilar to other regions (Callister, Cohen, Lubans, Morgan, Plotnikoff, 2015). From this study, it can be concluded that the SCORES intervention enhanced children’s daily moderate-vigorous physical activity minutes, cardiorespiratory fitness and most importantly their overall FMS competency however limitations to the study are evident and it can be argued that these negatively impact some outcomes of the research.

The professional learning for understanding games education (PLUNGE) program concentrates on fundamental movement skills, physical activity levels and perceived sporting competence (Annis-Brown, Christensen, Eather, Lubans, Miller, Sproule, 2015). One year six class from seven primary schools in the Hunter Region were organised into a cluster-randomised controlled trial. These 168 students were randomised into either the PLUNGE intervention group (97 students) or control group (71 students) and assessed at baseline and week 8 to determine scores for three object control FMS, physical activity levels and perceived sporting competence. Both the control and intervention groups were generally equal in terms of baseline, however after the intervention the experiment group improved in-class physical activity by 47% (Annis-Brown, Christensen, Eather, Lubans, Miller, Sproule, 2015). Follow up scores among the intervention group revealed 32% of individuals within the 63.50-82.90 steps per minute category compared to only 23% in the controlled group, thus demonstrating the improvements made by the intervention. Similarly, when analysing the mean change in fundamental movement skills this is evident, for FMS competency between the groups mean difference favoured the intervention group every time. For object control competency, the difference was 4.02, for throw it was 2.11, for catch it was 1.05 and kick was 0.81 (Annis-Brown, Christensen, Eather, Lubans, Miller, Sproule, 2015). These are the differences noted after a 7-week progression learning program that seeks to develop practical instruction skills, promote a mastery climate and games centred curriculum, this demonstrate how effective school-based interventions can be in terms of improving fundamental movement skills. However, limitations of this intervention are evident, despite the promotion of mastery climates for development no measure of the motivational climate was performed, this reduces the consistency across all sample groups and can impact on the overall reliability. The intervention period was considerably short and fails to demonstrate the effects of intervention programs over long periods of time (Annis-Brown, Christensen, Eather, Lubans, Miller, Sproule, 2015). Despite these limitations, it is evident that the school-based intervention improved FMS competence among children and adolescence.

It can be concluded that school-based interventions significantly improve fundamental movement skill competence in children and adolescents. The strategies and studies discussed support this idea, however weaknesses and implications are identifiable within each intervention, although they are not prominent enough to contradict this thesis.

References

Annis-Brown, L., Christensen, E., Eather, N., Lubans, D., Miller, A., & Sproule, J. (2015). The PLUNGE randomized controlled trial: Evaluation of a games-based physical activity professional learning program in primary school physical education. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743515000389

Birch, S., Bryant, E., Duncan, M., & James, R. (2016). Can fundamental movement skill mastery be increased via a six week physical activity intervention to have positive effects on physical activity and physical self-perception? Retrieved from http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4663/4/1/10

Callister, R., Cohen, K., Lubans, D., Morgan, P., & Plotnikoff, R. (2015). Medicine and Science in sports and exercise. Physical activity and skills intervention. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/842060_4

Department of Education WA. (2013). Fundamental Movement Skills: Learning, teaching and assessment. Preparing children for an active and healthy lifestyle. Retrieved from http://det.wa.edu.au/stepsresources/detcms/cms-service/download/asset?asset_id=13953396

NSW Government. (2010). NSW schools physical activity and nutrition survey (SPANS). Retrieved from http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/heal/Publications/spans-2010-full.pdf