Developing a physically literate nation is key to improving engagement in lifelong physical activity, which is a priority in Wales. In order to address this, Sport Wales in conjunction with the Welsh Government, collaborated with major stakeholders to produce the ‘Physical Literacy Journey’ (PLJ).

What is Physical Literacy?

Physical Literacy is a holistic concept described as ‘the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life’ [1] It includes the following components, namely, the interaction of the affective (motivation and confidence) physical (physical competence) and cognitive (knowledge and understanding). Developing physical literacy is a personal and lifelong journey.

Why is Physical Literacy important?

Physical literacy is unique to each individual and is particularly essential for young people to fulfil their physical potential. Enhanced physical literacy promotes heightened engagement in learning, which in turn enables the young person to achieve better outcomes. This is particularly the case for physical health and mental wellbeing, but has also been linked to improved academic achievement.

What is the aim of the Physical Literacy Journey?

The PLJ will support all young people in Wales to develop along their physical literacy journey by the time they leave school. The aspiration is for all young people to engage in daily physical activity, with increasing levels of intensity, to impact positively on their health and wellbeing. [2]

What is the purpose of the Physical Literacy Journey?

The PLJ will help stakeholders determine young peoples’ progress on their physical literacy journey. It is a tool that sets out a continuum for development for school aged pupils. The PLJ will provide practitioner guidance on the skills that young people need to develop and refine. It will also provide clarity to assess and track every young person’s skills progression.


What are the skills in the Physical Literacy Journey?

The skills within the PLJ are a hierarchy of gross motor skills that Sport Wales have developed and used within their ‘Technical Skills Manual’. The hierarchy was created as a result of extensive research into the fundamental skills used in countries all over the world.
These skills were deemed the most relevant to young people in Wales.

Stage not Age

It is important to understand and recognise a young person’s stage of development as opposed to age. The expectations set out in the PLJ provide milestones of what the young people are expected to develop throughout their time in school.

Who is the Physical Literacy Journey for?

The PLJ is for the young people themselves, their parents, carers, teachers, coaches, leaders and sport development professionals. All these stakeholders have a role to play in supporting young people’s progress on their physical literacy journey.

How is the Physical Literacy Journey to be used?

The PLJ should be used to support:

  • practitioners, parents and community providers in the development of children and young people along their physical literacy journey
  • schools to plan an holistic approach to physical literacy, ensuring it is integrated into different contexts across the whole curriculum.
  • the assessment, recording and reporting of an individuals’ progress on their physical literacy journey including peer and self-assessment;

Keeping young people on track

Practitioners could use the PLJ as an Assessment for Learning (AfL) tool. At the end of each year, a narrative report will be created capturing (i) what the young person is able to do; (ii) what progress they have made; and (iii) what they need to do next.

This report can support discussion between the practitioner, young person and parents/carers, to establish if they are on track and making the expected progress.


How well are young people progressing?

It is important to compare how well schools and other providers are helping young people to make progress on their physical literacy journeys. The Sport Wales School Sport Survey [3] biennially captures a large amount of information about young people, and their engagement in physical activity and sport. This data will be particularly useful to senior leadership teams, governors and regional consortia staff as part of school improvement planning. The evidence from the survey will enable them to answer the following question: How well is their school doing in supporting young peoples’ progress on their physical literacy journey? This evidence is presented on the Welsh Government’s ‘My Local School’ website [4] , and can therefore be used to showcase improvement.


1. International Physical Literacy Association, 2014