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Physical Literacy


Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life (Whitehead, 2010). In simple terms, this means that a person has the technical skills along with the confidence and motivation to take part in a variety of sports and physical activities throughout their stages of life.

"Every child hooked on sport for life" is a key mission for Sport Wales. Sport Wales have focused much attention on physical literacy as an outcome of successful programme delivery, and have invested into related programmes such as the Physical Literacy Programme for Schools and projects such as Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport and 5x60 programmes. Further, Sport Wales in collaboration with Public Health Wales and the education sector have influenced Government to give physical literacy the same emphasis in the school curriculum as literacy and numeracy.


In collaboration with Swansea University, Glyndwr University and Edge Hill University, Sport Wales have recently designed a national measure of Physical Competence for children aged 8-14 years old. Physical Competence is an important component of Physical Literacy and can be defined as a child’s ability to use their bodies and physical skills. Therefore, Physical Competence includes the acquisition of health and skills related components of fitness (e.g. aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, power, reactions and speed), as well as fundamental movement skills like catching, throwing and running. Research suggests that higher physical competency levels will cause a positive trajectory toward perceived competence, health-related fitness and, sequentially, physical activity levels (Foweather et al., 2014; Holfelder and Schott, 2014; Robinson et al., 2015; Lubans et al., 2010; Stodden et al., 2008).

The Dragon Challenge V1.0 assesses many fundamental movement skills in the areas of ‘stability’ (balancing the body in one place or while in motion), ‘locomotion’ (moving the body in any direction from one point to another) and ‘manipulative skills’ (handling or controlling objects with the hand, foot or an implement e.g. a bat or a racquet).

Survey Data

The Dragon Challenge has produced initial pilot data on 1674 children across Wales. Initial results suggest that continued investment in developing skilled movements in children is required.

Dragon Challenge Map

Click the image to view the map

Deciding on a Grade

The Research Work Group decided to grade Physical Literacy (Physical Competency) as inconclusive based on the limited available data, and the recent development of the measurement tool.

  • Further data collection is needed across Wales to allow the Research Work Group to assign a grade to this indicator in future Report Cards.
  • Initial results suggest that continued investment in developing skilled movements in children is required across Wales.
  • There is a need to identify initiatives and strategies that develop all elements of Physical Literacy, not just fundamental movement skills (physical competence).
How to Improve
  • Physical Literacy - link
  • 5 x 60 - link
  • Dragon Multi Skills and Sport - link
  • Physical Literacy Programme for Schools- link
  • International Physical Literacy Association - link
Data Sources