A comparative analysis of discourses shaping physical education provision within and across the UK

Shirley Gray, Rachel Sandford, Julie Stirrup, David Aldous, Stephanie Hardley, Nicola Carse, Oliver Hooper, Anna Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Set within the context of a longitudinal project that seeks to engage physical education (PE) teachers from the four countries of the UK in cross-border curriculum analysis, dialogue and learning, the current study lays the foundation by mapping and comparing curriculum discourses that currently shape how PE is conceptualised in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As a team of researchers with affiliations to each of the four nations of the UK, we identified those curriculum documents from each context that were written to directly inform PE teachers’ curriculum planning and enactment. We firstly identified those discourses evident in each document to understand how PE is conceptualised within curricula, before engaging in a dialogical process that converged around how PE is constructed similarly or differently within and across curricula.We found that within and across each curricula, there are variations in relation to how the concept of health is articulated. With the exception of the curriculum in Wales, we also found that performance discourses related to developing motor competencies for sports continue to dominate as a main purpose of PE. Finally, there are several points of divergence in relation to the role of teachers in the curriculum development process, and how much agency or guidance they are offered within each context. The intention of this research is to initiate dialogue across each of the four nations, creating opportunities for learning so that collectively, teachers can build capacity to contribute to future curricula and pedagogies in PE.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Early online date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • physical education
  • curriculum
  • public health
  • health and wellbeing
  • performance
  • pedagogy


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