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Physical literacy: impact and cost effectiveness in primary school settings.

Kidd, David J.


David J. Kidd


Bryan McCann


Physical activity and academic attainment of children are internationally regarded as some of the most significant areas of public concern and interest (World Health Organisation, 2010; Scottish Government, 2018). There are a range of interventions discussed in literature seeking to enhance both outcomes, as well as a growing body of literature regarding the ability of enhanced physical activity to improve the attainment and development of children. There is a growing demand for cost effectiveness analysis within the field, and investigation into the role digital technology can play in maximising adaptability and accessibility. Physical literacy is an emerging concept focussed on the motivation and ability to value, and participate in, physical activity throughout the lifecycle (Whitehead, 2013). The aim of this research was to investigate the influence of a physical literacy intervention delivered using digital technology in Scottish primary school settings on the academic attainment of children, as well as to estimate its cost effectiveness. A control trial methodology was implemented, in which 13 participants were convenience-sampled from the STEP Programme. STEP is a physical literacy intervention delivered twice daily by teaching assistants using a digital platform in a one-to-one environment, in which pupils complete exercises specific to their physical competencies as assessed by the teaching assistants. Pupils completed these sessions for one full academic year, with academic attainment data collected at baseline and after the end of the year carrying out the intervention. Teachers also assessed pupils via a pupil questionnaire, covering a range of academic and developmental areas at these time points. Changes in these were compared to the group themselves, as well as to 64 pupils of a comparable age, stage, and ability in a control group, who received traditional education over a comparable timeline. In order to assess the effect of the intervention on academic attainment, a binary logistic regression analysis was carried out, while the pupil questionnaire changes were evaluated using a T-test. Cost effectiveness was calculated first by implementing the ingredients method to establish all components of the intervention, before costs were then associated and used in accordance with the effect sizes, producing incremental cost effectiveness ratios. Results of the binary logistic regression suggest that the STEP intervention was able to significantly (p < 0.05) impact on pupils' writing, listening and talking, and health and wellbeing attainment, relative to the curriculum for excellence. Moreover, when evaluating the pupil questionnaire analysis, results suggested that STEP was able to significantly improve pupils' reading and mathematics competencies, as well as several important behavioural and developmental attributes. When compared to other interventions in published research, cost effectiveness analysis suggests that, for literacy attainment, STEP may be a preferable option that provides high-cost effectiveness; however, this must be interpreted with caution given the relatively low sample size.


KIDD, D.J. 2021. Physical literacy: impact and cost effectiveness in primary school settings. Robert Gordon University, MRes thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 13, 2022
Keywords Physical literacy; Physical activity; Lifelong physical activity; Primary school students; Physical exercise and learning; Physical exercise and academic attainment; Phyiscal exercise and child development
Public URL
Award Date Jun 30, 2021