Teachers as agents of change in curricular reform: The position of dance revisited

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Abstract / Description of output

This paper reports findings from a recent large-scale survey of PE teachers’ perceptions of teaching dance and compares them to results of a study completed 10 years previously (MacLean, 2007). The current position of dance is examined in light of the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in 2010, a national initiative in Scottish schools that provides a unified flexible curricular framework for children aged 3-18. Dance remains part of the PE curriculum but also for the first time in Scotland occupies an additional position within the Expressive Arts (EA). Teachers are positioned as agents of change tasked with greater autonomy, flexibility and responsibility in curriculum design. The inclusion of dance in both PE and EA provides potential for teachers to design curricula that excludes dance from the PE curriculum or alternatively use the opportunity to increase dance provision. Currently, little is known about the impact CfE has on the provision and position of dance or the factors that impinge on teachers’ decisions regarding the inclusion of dance in the curriculum. To further such understanding, eighty- five secondary school PE teachers responded to a questionnaire concerning dance opportunities within the current school context. In addition, the original participants from MacLean (2007) research were reinterviewed to identify and explore the factors that enable teachers to achieve agency when teaching dance. The results indicated that collaborative planning, united goals and collective action had enabled teachers to significantly increase dance provision in schools. Teacher attention had shifted from concerns about individual capacity to a focus on the level of social, cultural and material support in providing valuable educational experiences in dance for all pupils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-577
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number6
Early online date3 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


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