Second National consultation

Work package 5

Lead: Will Roberts and Dr Kiara Lewis

We wanted to create a consensus statement that was universal, accessible, and inclusive, but to do this we needed the support and input of the sector. 

Therefore, the purpose of the second national consultation was to listen to colleagues from across the sport, physical activity, education, voluntary, community and health sectors and capture their feedback on the draft Physical Literacy Consensus for England.

Stakeholders were invited to take part in the second national consultation survey that ran for six weeks between January 2023 and February 2023.

To facilitate the consultation exercise, members of the research team and Sport England hosted three webinars to provide an overview of the Physical Literacy Consensus Statement for England project and how the consensus statement was developed.

The consultation findings were shared with the expert panel members for discussion and to consider using it to inform any changes to the draft consensus statement text.

Stakeholders who responded to the survey were broadly positive. Some concerns were raised for consideration by the panel. These concerns and the panel responses are summarised below.

Read the full report containing the findings from the second national consultation.

Summary of key concerns and panel responses


Relationship aspect of the definition

The panel extensively discussed the consultation responses regarding the use of the term ‘relationship’ in the definition. Ultimately, they reached consensus that ‘relationship’ best encapsulates the deeply personal, holistic, lifelong, and constantly evolving concept of physical literacy. Moreover, employing ‘relationship’ underscores that physical literacy signifies much more than merely acquiring the capabilities for physical activity.

Use of literacy as a term

The panel elected to retain the term ‘literacy’ given that defining physical literacy was the primary aim of the project, and because ‘physical literacy’ has already been embraced by some within the sector. The panel acknowledged and comprehended traditional interpretations of literacy. They also recognised evolving and contemporary perspectives of literacy that extend beyond literacy as acquiring competence to encompass interpretation and the discovery of value and meaning (as seen in musical literacy, for example).

The panel ultimately concluded that ‘literacy’ was an appropriate term, as physical literacy encompasses areas of development and learning (such as move, connect, think, and feel), while also emphasising the significance of finding meaning and value in movement. Physical literacy revolves around developing a positive relationship with movement and physical activity, strengthening one’s connection with movement.


Lack of explicit mention of domains and capabilities

The first national consultation and online surveys conducted by the expert panel revealed that many capabilities were considered important by respondents to support people to develop a positive relationship with movement and physical activity. consequently, the panel made the decision to take a broader approach and focus on domains or areas of learning and development rather than listing specific capabilities/constructs, such as motivation or confidence. This choice was made because the capabilities that contribute to a positive relationship are varied and may differ from person to person. Specifying capabilities in a statement would signal to others what should be deemed as important and valued, potentially overlooking other important aspects.

As a result, the draft statement included the phrase ‘think, feel, move and connect” to encompass the cognitive, affective, physical, and social domains of learning and development. However, consultation respondents were unable to connect the colloquial phrasing of these domains (think, feel, move and connect) with the domains themselves. Therefore, a footnote was added to the final statement to clarify this connection.

Absence of a range of contexts

The phrase “movement and physical activity” is used in the consensus statement as an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of activities that involve movement, including but not limited to sport, active recreation, play, exercise, lifestyle activities and active transport. We acknowledge the importance of engaging in different types of movement and physical activities for a positive and meaningful relationship with movement and physical activity. A footnote was added to the statement to clearly state this.


Explicit statement on inclusion

The panel extensively discussed whether the draft consensus statement text was inclusive and whether there was justification to add content that explicitly considers the inequalities and structural barriers faced by underrepresented or marginalised groups. The panel consensus was that the consensus statement text itself was inclusive. The final statement text included some additional wording that sought to recognise that experiences could be positive or negative, and that we all have different strengths, needs, personal circumstances, and past experiences that affect our relationship with movement and physical activity. Indeed, the panel considered physical literacy a person-centred concept – as highlighted in the physical literacy is personal key message. It was also noted that while there is strong evidence for inequalities in physical activity participation, little is known about inequalities in physical literacy (in terms of a positive relationship with movement and physical activity), and more research is required to warrant inclusion within the statement. Nevertheless, the addition of ‘circumstances’ to the statement text acknowledged that individuals may have diverse experiences and relationships with movement and physical activity dependent on their personal characteristics, circumstances, and wider socio-economic factors. The panel had to balance calls for additional content in the statement with responses that stated that the statement was too long and needed reducing in length.

Highlight impact of contextual factors

A key concern in the consultation was the draft statement did not sufficiently highlight structural and contextual factors that may influence physical activity. Like inequalities and intersectionality, the panel noted the lack of evidence to consider the influence of structural and contextual factors on physical literacy. Key message four (How experience affects our physical literacy) includes broad statements that recognise the influence of the social (people, communities, culture) and physical environment (places and spaces) on physical literacy. The final statement text also included some additional wording that sought to recognise that experiences could be positive or negative, and that we all have different strengths, needs, personal circumstances, and past experiences that affect our relationship with movement and physical activity.