Evidence suggests that significant numbers of school children fail to acquire age-appropriate fundamental movement skills (FMS), despite the importance of FMS in facilitating participation in physical activities. This has led to calls for an increase in routine screening of children’s FMS in school settings. However, there is limited research exploring teachers’ knowledge of FMS, and the capacity of schools to conduct such assessments. This project therefore aimed to explore primary school teachers’ knowledge of FMS, and investigated what factors might influence the acceptability of FMS assessments in primary schools.
Primary school staff working in roles that directly impact the learning of children were invited to take a brief (10–15 minutes) online questionnaire developed using the COM-B Behaviour Change Model.
Primary school staff (n = 851) from 32 countries (UK: n = 746, 88%) completed the questionnaire. A majority reported that knowledge of their pupils’ FMS ability would be beneficial (65.3%), and 71.8% said they would assess FMS if appropriate support was provided. Identified barriers to school-based FMS assessments included: Capability – few (15%) possessed knowledge of FMS; Opportunity – teachers reported that 30–60 minutes would be acceptable for assessing the FMS of a whole class, a substantially shorter period than current assessments require; Motivation – 57.2% stated FMS assessments would increase workload stress and 48% of teachers would be influenced by their peers. Solutions to these issues are discussed using the COM-B theoretical framework.
Current FMS assessment tools are not acceptable, or feasible for use in schools. There is a need for existing measures to be modified, or new tools to be developed, underpinned by the considerations outlined in this paper, if FMS screening in schools is to become a reality.