Motor Competence between Children with and without Additional Learning Needs: A Cross-Sectional Population-Level Study

Amie B. Richards, Harriet G. Barker, Emily Williams, Nils Swindell, Kelly A. Mackintosh, Richard Tyler, Lucy J. Griffiths, Lawrence Foweather, Gareth Stratton

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The aim of this study was to examine associations in motor competence between children with additional learning needs (ALN) and typically developing children. This cross-sectional study involved a nationally representative cohort of 4555 children (48.98% boys; 11.35 ± 0.65 years) from sixty-five schools across Wales (UK). Demographic data were collected from schools, and children were assessed using the Dragon Challenge assessment of motor competence, which consists of nine tasks completed in a timed circuit. A multi-nominal multi-level model with random intercept was fitted to explore the proficiency between children with ALN and those without. In all nine motor competence tasks, typically developing children demonstrated higher levels of proficiency than their peers with ALN, with these associations evident after accounting for age, sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. This study highlights motor competence inequalities at a population level and emphasises the need for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to prioritise motor competence development, particularly for children with ALN.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Article number1537
Pages (from-to)1-14
Issue number9
Early online date11 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2023


  • motor competence
  • children
  • youth
  • special educational needs
  • SEND
  • additional learning needs
  • ALN
  • Dragon Challenge

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