The questionnaire was online for 133 days. A total of 1074 people opened and began filling in the questionnaire; 221 people did not complete the questionnaire and their responses were therefore excluded.
A total of 853 primary school staff fully completed the survey and had their data analysed. Participant demographics are given in Table 2. Participants reported working across 32 different countries, including the UK (n=746, 87.7%), India (n=10, 1.2%), the USA (n=7, 0.8%) as well as Australia, Germany, Ireland and Malta which all had five responses (0.6%). The remaining responses spanned six continents: Africa (7 responses from 5 countries ), Asia (20 responses from 15 countries), Europe (9 responses from 7 countries), North America (3 responses from 2 countries), Oceania (3 responses from 2 countries) and South America (1 response from Mexico). The mean time spent in a teaching role was 8.57 years (SD = 7.71, range = 2 months – 45 years 3 months). The most common responses when job role was selected as ‘other’ were: deputy headteacher (n=19, 2.2%), trainee teacher (n=8, 0.9%), head of year/phase (n=8, 0.9%), higher level teaching assistant (HLTA; n=7, 0.8%). When ‘other’ was selected for type of school, the most common responses were: special educational needs schools (n=9) and faith schools (n=5). Only 128 primary school staff (15.1%) claimed to have received training on FMS, ranging from lectures within degrees to programmes used within schools to knowledge disseminated from Physical Education (PE) leads in their schools.
Frequencies for responses to capability questions are reported in full in Table 3.
Perceived knowledge about FMS was relatively low, only 5.5% claimed to be either ‘very’ (n=44, 5.1%) or ‘extremely’ (n= 4, 0.4%) knowledgeable. A large proportion (68%) did believe they had ‘some’ working knowledge of FMS though.
When asked to select from a list of motor skills only those that are classified as FMS, 355 (42%) of the respondents selected all the correct answers (running, jumping, hopping, throwing, kicking, catching and balancing). However, 227 of this subsample (63.9%) also selected at least one incorrect answer. The most commonly selected incorrect answers were ‘activities of daily living’ including dressing oneself (43.5%), using cutlery (41.2%) and brushing one’s teeth (34%).
Knowledge of relationship between FMS and outcomes
There was a fairly good understanding of the relationships between FMS and childhood development, with 69.2% of respondents (n= 589) agreeing that FMS had a moderate or large impact on academic attainment, 66% (n=562) on social relationships and 79.1% (n= 671) on mental health. Teaching staff perceptions of the impact of FMS on physical activity and physical health were greater still at 92% (n=782) and 87% (n= 743) respectively.
When asked to rate their ability to demonstrate FMS on a scale between one and five (with one indicating ‘not confident at all’ and five indicating ‘extremely confident’), 92.1% (n=786) were confident (selecting responses four or five) that they could run between two markers for 15 seconds. Confidence was also high for throwing into a target box (n= 717, 84.1%), hopping between two markers (n=732, 85.8%), and holding balance (n= 679, 79.6%).
When asked about confidence in assessing small-groups (of five) children simultaneously for the activities described above, confidence rates remained positive, with 75.8% (n= 647) responding with four or five on the scale for ‘running’, 81.2% (n= 693) for ‘throwing’, 77.5% (n=661) for ‘hopping’ and 75.3% (n=642) for ‘balancing’.
Frequencies for responses to opportunity questions are reported in full in Table 4.
Assessment of FMS in Schools
When teaching staff were asked whether they themselves, or their school, currently assess their pupils’ FMS, 128 people (15%) in the sample responded with ‘yes’, 398 (47.6%) stated they did not, and 319 (37.4%) were unsure.
Support from Senior Leadership
A large proportion of teaching staff (n= 736, 86.4%) believed that senior leadership teams (SLT) in their school would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ be supportive if they decided they would like to assess the FMS proficiency of their pupils.
Access to Additional Support Staff Resource
The majority of respondents believed they would ‘definitely’ (n = 277, 32.5%), or ‘probably’ (n= 389, 45.6%) be able to enlist another member of staff to help them to assess FMS proficiency in school. Only 4.2% of the sample (n= 36) claimed that this would ‘definitely not’ be possible.
Access to Equipment
When asked whether schools had access to basic equipment that would enable the testing of FMS, the majority of staff said their schools had ‘25 beanbags’ (n=696, 81.7%), ‘chalk’ (n=774, 90.8%), a ‘sports hall larger than five metres squared’ (n=741, 87%), an ‘outdoor space larger than five metres squared’ (n=832, 97.7%), a ‘stopwatch’ (n=786, 92.3%) and a ‘tape measure or metre ruler’ (n=827, 97.1%).
Acceptable Assessment Time
School staff were also asked how long would be acceptable to spend assessing the FMS of one child and a whole class at the start of the academic year, with the most common responses being ‘less than ten minutes’ and ‘30-60 minutes’, respectively.
Two Hour Start of Year Assessment
The majority of teaching staff said that they would be able to devote two hours at the start of the school year to assessing FMS, selecting either ‘definitely yes’ (n=194, 22.8%) or ‘probably yes’ (n= 47, 56.1%). Only 18 participants (2.1%) stated that this would ‘definitely not’ be possible.
Time in School Day Most Suitable to Assess FMS
When asked to rank when they would most likely be able to find time to assess FMS in schools, the most popular response was ‘during P.E. lessons’ (91%). The least feasible time to assess these skills was ‘before school’, with 41.5% of the sample ranking this last.
Frequencies for responses to motivation questions are reported in full in Table 5.
Perception of ability to identify children who need support through FMS assessment in schools
The majority of school staff believed that a school-based assessment would be able to identify children who need extra support (72.9% yes, 25.5% maybe), with only 1.4% of the sample claiming they did not think this would be the case.
Perceived benefit of knowledge of pupils’ FMS for teaching
When asked to rate on a scale from one (not beneficial at all) to five (extremely beneficial) how their teaching would benefit if they were aware of their pupils’ FMS ability, only 5.2% of school staff responded with either one or two. The majority of respondents selected either three (29.7%), four (38.1%) or five (27.2%).
When asked whether assessing FMS in schools would increase workload stress, over half of the respondents selected ‘definitely yes’ (n= 94, 11%) or ‘probably yes’ (n= 394, 46.2 %). Only 30 participants selected ‘definitely not’ (3.5%).
When asked whether their decision to assess FMS would be influenced by other staff in their school, over half of the respondents selected either ‘extremely likely’ (n= 114, 13.4%) or ‘somewhat likely’ (n=380, 44.6%), and only 15.1% of participants selected that it would be ‘not likely at all’ (5.2%, n=44) or ‘somewhat unlikely’ (9.9%, n=84) to influence them.
Likelihood of Assessing FMS
When asked on a scale of one (not likely at all) to five (extremely likely) how likely they would be to assess the FMS proficiency of their pupils if they had appropriate training and support available, the response was largely positive, with 71.8% of the sample choosing four or five, and thus being likely to implement such an initiative. Only 5.7% of the sample (n=47) selected one or two, indicating they would be unlikely to assess.
Multinomial Logistic Regression indicated that previous FMS training was the most consistent demographic variable which most often influenced response - where training was found to be beneficial for perceived knowledge of FMS (χ²(4) = 145.83, p<.001), and positively influenced whether or not schools currently assessed FMS (χ²(2) = 36.57, p<.001). Training also influenced the likelihood of reports that schools would be able to spend two hours at the start of the school year measuring the FMS of pupils (χ²(3) = 20.01, p<.001), and the perceptions regarding the benefit of knowledge of the outcome of such assessments would have on their teaching (χ²(4) = 23.84, p< .001). Job role was also found to play a role in the perceived benefit to teaching, with teaching assistants being more positive than other groups (χ²(16) = 55.97, p< .001). Age was predictive of an understanding of the social benefits that well- developed FMS bring (χ² (80) = 164.29, p<.001). No other demographic factors were found to influence the results. A full breakdown of these analyses can be seen in Additional File 1.