New app to revolutionise the UK’s PE curriculum

A new, digital app designed to equip primary school teachers with better skills to improve children’s movement and help them to become active for life has been launched.

Designed by a project team formed of academics from Sheffield Hallam University and international experts, and funded/part-developed by national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, the ‘Start to Move’ assessment app will equip teachers with the techniques and confidence to assess fundamental movement skills, like running, catching and balancing, in four to seven-year-olds.

The project team spoke to primary school teachers about how they would like the app to work, consulted international experts around what movement should be assessed and trialled earlier versions of the app in schools across the country.

As a result, the project team built the app using interactive, iPad technology, to provide crucial, user-friendly, information relating to the child’s movement competence that can be accessed by teachers, pupils and their parents.

The app was designed after the Youth Sport Trust developed and delivered the ‘Start to Move’ one-day, teacher-training course. Since 2011, the course has been delivered  to over 7,000 primary school teachers and 4,200 trainee teachers involved in primary school PE lessons, which has helped to encourage nearly half a million four to seven-year-olds to stay active throughout their life.

The course gives teachers the competence and confidence to teach children the fundamental movement skills which are necessary for their active participation in sport and physical activity for life.

Professor David Morley, Head of the University’s Academy of Sport and Physical Activity and project lead alongside Tom Van Rossum, said: “Physical Education in schools provides the opportunity for children to become physically literate and, in doing so, creates the foundation for them to participate in lifelong physical activity and sport.

“Evidence suggests that, despite a statutory PE curriculum, the movement competences of four to seven-year-olds in the UK, is average or below average when compared to their peers in other countries. This ‘movement deficit’ has serious consequences for the health of our children, nationally.

“The ground-breaking, ‘Start to Move’ app goes some way in addressing this movement deficit amongst children by providing much-needed information for teachers to act upon and make a positive impact on a child’s lifelong health and wellbeing from an early age.”

The app will be showcased nationally and internationally at a series of launch events and plans are already in place to develop the next app for seven to 11-year-olds to ensure movement across their lifespan is supported effectively.

Will Swaithes, Head of PE and achievement at the Youth Sport Trust, a charity which works to build a brighter future for young people through sport, said the development will be a welcome tool for teachers and coaches.

He said: “We are really excited to see how teachers use the app as a reference library for competence against the 14 fundamental movement tasks and as a tool to support assessment and then subsequent intervention/teaching to improve these skills as a significant contributor and marker of physical literacy.

“We anticipate this will be a life changing tool for teachers and coaches in their day to day lives and ensure all children are supported in being the best they can be through sport and PE. The app supports our suite of Start to Move training and resources and is the next step in nurturing physical literacy in the next generation.”

To access the Start to Move Movement Assessment Tool App, go to the app store.

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