Physical Education in primary schools: head teachers' beliefs and practices

WILLIAMS, Sarah (2022). Physical Education in primary schools: head teachers' beliefs and practices. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This study investigates primary school head teachers’ beliefs about Physical Education (PE). It illustrates significant ways in which head teachers’ personal and professional experiences shape their beliefs about PE and the ways in which PE is conceptualised in schools. In so doing, this research has been designed to develop an understanding of the factors that have shaped the participants’ beliefs and practices in PE, thus strengthening the existing knowledge and understanding within the field. The research is situated within an interpretivist framework in order to understand the subjective experience of primary head teachers. Moreover, the research follows a sequentially timed, explanatory mixed methods model to gain a pragmatic understanding of the participants’ experiences. The thesis presents an argument that, after many years on the side-lines of the primary curriculum, a critical period for the positioning and development of PE has been reached, whereby a careful, objective evaluation needs to take place to protect and secure the educational integrity of PE. Moreover, it is argued that, if PE is going to meet the needs of children, it is essential to question the ways in which PE is conceptualised and taught in primary schools. This would assist the refocusing of PE’s educational goals. It is, therefore, important for head teachers to understand the unique subject goals and pedagogies of PE and acknowledge the somewhat contradictory messages that have accompanied recent policy. Currently, research on primary head teachers’ beliefs and practices the factors that have shaped their conceptualisations of PE is limited. Hence this research addresses an established gap in the body of knowledge. The findings illustrate significant ways in which head teachers’ personal and professional experiences shape their beliefs, conceptualisations and practices in PE. Drawing on Lawson’s model of teacher socialisation (1983a, 1983b), this research serves to reinforce the importance of effective initial and early career teacher continuous professional learning for generalist primary teachers in PE to ensure pedagogical practice in PE is aligned with other areas of the curriculum. This study reinforces the vital role of head teachers in developing and leading a school culture that models positive health practices and motivates learners to become lifelong participants. In order to fulfil this role effectively, it is imperative that head teachers understand the unique contribution and educational value of PE and are able to clearly articulate the purpose of PE to ensure it is taught in a way that is educative. The findings of this research have led to the development of several recommendations including professional learning opportunities and materials to support headteachers to consider the unique contribution and educational value of PE and the provision of high-quality Initial Teacher Training experiences including opportunities to teach PE during school-based training.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Adams, Gill [0000-0003-2088-8708]
Thesis advisor - Coldwell, Michael [0000-0002-7385-3077]
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Dr Gill Adams Supervisor: Professor Mike Coldwell
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2023 12:15
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 15:17

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