Primary physical education: Shifting perspectives to move forwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In recent years primary physical education has received increased attention across a range of political, professional and academic contexts. Much of this attention has largely been due to a growing perception that formative physical education experiences have the potential to address many of the concerns regularly raised about children’s health and wellbeing, physical activity levels and sport participation. Consequently, there are now a number of stakeholders from a range of political, sporting, health, commercial and community groups with a vested interest in primary physical education; all with differing and sometimes contradictory views about its purpose. This paper suggests that the diverse interests of these stakeholders has led to disconnect within primary physical education. Therefore, we propose that a shifting perspectives agenda is required. Accordingly, we highlight the need for key stakeholders within primary physical education to collectively work together and take a lead role in advocating a shared educational vision. To inform this shifting perspectives agenda we employ complexity thinking and draw on professional capital (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012). Within the paper we begin by offering a historical retrospective of the evolution of primary physical education. From this background we use complexity principles to reflect on the current state of primary physical education before exploring how complexity thinking, and ideas from professional capital, can help frame the enactment of this ‘shifting perspectives’ agenda. Finally, we suggest three key drivers to move the shifting perspectives agenda forwards: positive connections, the balance between key similarities and diversities, and self-organisation and recursive elaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-502
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number4
Early online date12 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • primary physical education
  • complexity thinking
  • connections
  • stakeholders
  • educational change


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