Grand Designs! Analysing the Conceptual Tensions associated with new Physical Education and Health and Wellbeing Curriculum

Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

The positioning of physical education in the school curriculum continues to reflect external discourses circulating in political and social milieu. As increasing austerity measures influence and restrict educational priorities, we consider that there is an urgent need for physical educationalists to articulate a rationale for an educational contribution which is worthy of investment and which avoids the pitfalls of conceptual ambiguity and/or reliance on narrowly drawn health evidence.

We, therefore, write as teacher educators, working within a critical framework, who are concerned by the disconnection between competing visions of physical education, when examined from contemporary sociological and philosophical perspectives. With reference to the policy opportunities available in Scotland, we identify how cultivating salutogenic approaches, where a broad, but nevertheless coherent perspective on health and well-being is advanced could offer enhanced prospects for the centrality of physical education in education and schooling. However, apart from the contribution of Quennerstedt, quite how such approaches can be modelled in curriculum has received little critical attention. We see the potential in applying Tiberius’s philosophical and social psychological ideas on developing reflective wisdom and of nurturing in education productive experiences which can help pupils deepen their understanding of the health and well-being decisions they make and of the lives they choose to live. After reviewing the contextual influences on policy, we have begun to consider in embryonic terms the methodological possibilities for teachers as insightful and active curriculum decision makers in years to come.

We conclude by summarising the benefits of re-conceptualising experiences in physical education in order to help pupils’ make informed decisions which are based on enhanced self-awareness and a perspective on the world that views physical education as an essentially optimistic and good endeavour which is worthy of sustained commitment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventICSEMIS 2012 - Conference Centre, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 201224 Jul 2012


ConferenceICSEMIS 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Health and well-being
  • curriculum
  • Physical education
  • Critical theory
  • Welfare


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