Our aim



91% of children aged 2-4 years old are not meeting CMO guidelines and, therefore, missing opportunities to develop the associated physical, mental and emotional health benefits.

32% of children are not achieving good levels of development, as a measure of school readiness, by the age of 5.

Children starting school ready to learn is fundamental to supporting good outcomes later in life and there is strong evidence demonstrating that physical literacy is an important feature in giving young people the best start in life. We know that sedentary behaviour during early years moderately to largely predicts sedentary behaviour during middle childhood with physical activity levels also tracking into adulthood.


What have we done?

Over the last 12 months we have worked with a number of early year’s stakeholders to raise awareness and highlight the importance of physical literacy. Following a data, evidence and insight review we convened a meeting which saw 70 people input into, and establish, a series of recommendations. These were later accepted by the School Readiness Board.
  • 1

    Strategic leadership in Greater Manchester. Parity of esteem between physical development and reading, writing and maths.

  • 2

    Raise awareness of the importance of physical activity among early year’s staff and parents. In particular, its potential impact on brain development and school readiness.

  • 3

    Policies and training to implement a physical development strategy across early year’s settings and utilise physical activity as a medium through which to integrate all areas of learning and development into daily routines.

  • 4

    Engagement of parents and families. Increased awareness, messaging, support and opportunities within the community.

  • 5

    Support a wide range of professionals and community connectors with ideas and resources to help engage parents not involved within these settings. With a focus upon engaging those in most need of support to enable engagement in the home environment, consequently helping to address inequalities.

  • 6

    Train and support the system-wide workforce to make every contact count enabling people across the system (midwives, health visitors, early help services, physios, OT, GP etc.) to support parents with practical ideas and inspiration.

GreaterSport are now working to bring together a physical development working group in relation to school readiness and physical activity in under 5’s. This is to enable a better understanding of the GM landscape and the opportunities for collaboration and to further develop the recommendations and budget for the priority areas previously presented to the School Readiness Board.


Case Study: Physical Development Champion Training, Stockport

The Physical Development Champions programme provides early years practitioners with specific guidance on how they can meet Early Years Foundation Stage requirements for physical development. The package included training and mentoring, access to age appropriate resources, and membership to the PD Champions networking group which enabled shared learning.
Early Years Stockport introduced the programme and trained up 55 ‘Champions’ from across the borough which had the following impact:


  • At the start of the year, before practitioners attended PD Champion training, 40% of the cohort were below age related expectations for ‘Moving and Handling’. This figure has now dropped to 10% (Vernon Park Primary School).
  • On our recent Ofsted report it was noted how beneficial the PD Champion training is, the inspector could see the benefits of this for the children. (Holly Tree Montessori Nursery).
  • There has been a reduction in referrals to occupational therapists and a reduction in accident forms (Home from Home and Little Faces Nursery).

Further Details

More information on our Start Well work can be viewed here, or contact francesca@greatersport.co.uk if you have any more specific questions or queries about our work with this age group.