Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Con Burns

Second Advisor

Ms. Jean O'Shea


Title: Does a step back approach to the implementation of Project Spraoi affect the health and fundamental movement skill proficiency of Irish children? Background: Project Spraoi is an intervention which attempts to positively influence the overall health of Irish primary school children. Previous iterations of Project Spraoi have been labour intensive with an Energiser working with a maximum of two schools to deliver the intervention. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention on fundamental movement skills (FMS), and markers of health of Irish primary school children using a step back approach. The step back approach entailed reduced Enegiser contact with greater school autonomy

Methods: A 26 week Project Spraoi FMS and physical activity intervention was evaluated among children aged 5-7-years (1st and 2nd class) and 9-11-years (5th and 6th class) from 4 Cork primary schools during the 2016/17 academic school year. Participating schools had been supported in the implementation of the Project Spraoi intervention on the previous year. Data was collected from 284 children in intervention schools (n = 4) and 304 children in control schools (n = 3) at pre- and post-intervention. The Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (Urlich, 2000) was used to measure FMS proficiency. Height and mass were measured and subsequently body mass index (BMI) was calculated. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was measured using the 550m run/walk. Physical activity and sedentary behaviour was measured via accelerometry. Process evaluation tools used were questionnaires and physical activity logbooks in order to identify the barriers and facilitators and dose of the project.

Results: There were significant positive intervention effects for object control and total FMS scores among both age groups. For locomotor skills, significant positive intervention effects were found among the older age cohort only (p<.01; large effect size). Among the older cohort positive findings were found for waist circumference in the intervention group relative to control (P<.01; large effect size). No group time interactions were found for BMI, CRF and physical activity. Process evaluation findings revealed an increase in teacher’s level of confidence to take physical activity sessions from baseline to follow up. Physical activity log book data revealed that while in school in approximately 15 minutes per day was allocated for physically active pursuits.

Conclusion: The Project Spraoi intervention using a step back approach was found to have positive impact on FMS levels. Furthermore, the findings from process evaluation indicate a positive impact on habitual physical activity and development of a health promoting culture within the school. This provides support for FMS and physical activity interventions in Irish primary school settings.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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