‘When an old cricketer leaves the crease’: Bittersweet reflections on examination awards in physical education

Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The paper reflects on the development of examination awards in physical education from a predominantly autobiographical research perspective. The paper draws on experiences and reflections from inside examinations as a teacher, part of the policy and implementation process and document author and outside examinations as a researcher of the aspirations of awards and policy enactment in schools in Scotland. This combined perspective proceeds via a largely chronological appraisal of school and national policy developments allied to analysis from a wider academic review of progress. Despite early enthusiasm by students and many teachers the review highlights the problems of announcing policy rather than engaging with the ongoing detail of policy problems. This approach has led to variable progress and a lack of boldness in making learning suitably personalized with closer connections between practice and theory informing teaching and assessment. Furthermore, through the adoption of rote learning and assessment procedures, teachers have become complicit in affirming that while greater educational goals are achievable their particular practices are unlikely to realize these goals. In order to avoid further regression it is argued that examination awards need to unlock practice problems through engaging with research evidence which assists in understanding better the complex components of authentic practice, practice and theory integration and how increased use of digital technologies can personalize learning and enliven teaching and assessment. Without this occurring, examinations in Scottish physical education represent something akin to a pyrrhic victory, where expanding policy provision has left behind rather underwhelming learning gains and where teachers’ sense of agency is curtailed by a messy combination of difficult to rectify professional concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number4
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • physical education
  • biographical research
  • examination awards
  • critical reflection
  • policy enactment
  • curriculum design
  • learning
  • assessment
  • pedagogical practices
  • Scotland


Dive into the research topics of '‘When an old cricketer leaves the crease’: Bittersweet reflections on examination awards in physical education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this