Cardiff Metropolitan University
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A comparative analysis of discourses shaping physical education provision within and across the UK

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-12-14, 15:05 authored by Shirley Gray, Rachel SandfordRachel Sandford, Julie StirrupJulie Stirrup, David Aldous, Stephanie Hardley, Nicola Rhys Carse, Oliver HooperOliver Hooper, Anna Bryant
Set within the context of a longitudinal project that seeks to engage physical education teachers from the four countries of the UK in cross-border curriculum analysis, dialogue and learning, the current study lays the foundation by mapping and comparing curriculum discourses that currently shape how physical education is conceptualised in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As a team of researchers with affiliations to each of the four nations of the UK, we identified those curriculum documents from each context that were written to directly inform physical education teachers’ curriculum planning and enactment. We firstly identified those discourses evident in each document to understand how physical education is conceptualised within each curriculum, before engaging in a dialogical process that converged around how physical education is constructed similarly or differently within and across curricula. We found some variation in relation to how the concept of health is articulated. With the exception of the curriculum in Wales, we also found that performance discourses related to developing motor competencies for sports continue to dominate as the main purpose of physical education. Finally, there are several points of divergence in relation to how much agency or guidance teachers are afforded within each curriculum. The intention of this research is to initiate dialogue across each of the four nations, creating opportunities for learning so that, collectively, teachers can build capacity to contribute to future curricula and pedagogies in physical education.


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European Physical Education Review



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Gray, S., Sandford, R., Stirrup, J., Aldous, D., Hardley, S., Carse, N.R., Hooper, O. and Bryant, A.S. (2021) 'A comparative analysis of discourses shaping physical education provision within and across the UK', European Physical Education Review, p.1356336X211059440. DOI: 10.1177/1356336X211059440

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences
  • Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy

Cardiff Met Authors

David Aldous Anna S Bryant

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Physical Health Education for Lifelong Learning

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  • © The Authors


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