Policy and Reform in Physical Education Over Five Decades of Change

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter


    The last 50 years have been a significant period for education reform in England, with a drive to improve standards of teaching through teacher education and a countrywide prescribed National Curriculum (NC) (Chapman and Gunter 2008). It is recognized that politics is fast-moving and frequently the driver of educational change, with the role of a teacher becoming more complex in periods of political redirection as they rapidly have to adjust to the changes in curriculum and teaching approaches.

    Physical Education (PE) has not been detached from this period of reform. Current evidence indicates that PE has been limited in influencing young peoples’ physical activity (PA) habits and their lives; change is, therefore, necessary to create a version of the curriculum that is relevant and meaningful (Green 2014). Armour and Harris (2013) have called for new methods of professional learning to be used for future teachers of PE, incorporating a fundamental shift in the pedagogies used by teacher educators for the realities of life in today’s schools. PE in England is presently experiencing an increased focus at the government level from additional subsidy. Positively, no other subject obtains such high amounts of funding with the aim to support teacher competence and pupil outcomes. However, this increased focus has arguably, and in some instances negatively, affected the subject status and quality of provision; whereby funding has been used to hire sports coaches to teach PE, who often lack suitable qualifications, the necessary pedagogical skills, and who tend to focus on sporting objectives over educational priorities. Additionally, this has led to generalist primary school teachers becoming progressively deskilled from the subject. Furthermore, the expressions PA, sport, and PE are frequently conflated by those teaching PE, who are unable to distinguish between them. This chapter aims to give a concise overview of the last 50 years of educational reform and policy changes affecting the teaching of PE in England at both primary and secondary levels, concluding at the time of writing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Teacher Education
    EditorsM.A. Peters
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)978-981-13-1179-6
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2020


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