Physical Activity, Motor Skills and School Readiness: Prevalence and Associations in Early Years.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The benefits of being physically active, possessing good motor skills, and being school ready are well documented in early years. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the majority of early years children do not engage in sufficient amounts of physical activity, have low motor skill competence, and 30% of children in England, do not achieve school readiness. Reception is a key stage in the development of health and educational behaviours. However, limited research has been conducted on the correlates of school readiness, as measured by the English government tool: Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) profile. This tool assesses multiple domains of childhood development. The main aim of this thesis was to contribute evidence on the association between physical activity, motor skills and school readiness, to be used by Head teachers, teachers, and commissioners to improve the health and educational outcomes of children. To this end, an observational study was conducted to explore the correlates of, and relationships between these variables, in Reception children in the North East of England. The first findings chapter of this thesis explored the current levels of physical activity in Reception children and found that they engaged in considerably more moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and less sedentary behaviour (SB) than documented in previous research. The second findings chapter explored the association between physical activity and motor skills. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association in early years found a significant positive association. However, findings from the observational study with Reception children did not show an association. The third findings chapter demonstrated no association between physical activity and school readiness. However, a positive association between SB and school readiness was found. The final findings chapter demonstrated that motor skills significantly predicted school readiness. Collectively, this thesis provides novel evidence that can be used to improve the health and educational outcomes of early years children.
Date of Award19 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAlison Innerd (Supervisor), Emma Giles (Supervisor) & Liane Azevedo (Supervisor)

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