• Who teaches primary physical education? Change and transformation through the eyes of subject leaders

      Jones, Luke; Green, Ken; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2015-07-02)
      Primary physical education (PE) lessons tend to be taught by one, or a combination of, three different groups: generalist classroom teachers, specialist primary PE teachers and so-called ‘adults other than teachers’, who are almost exclusively sports coaches. Drawing upon data gathered from one-to-one interviews with 36 subject leaders (SLs), this study sought answers to two main questions: “Who delivers primary PE nowadays?” and “What are the consequences?” The findings revealed that the most common model for the delivery of PE involved responsibility being shared between the generalist class teacher and either a sports coach or specialist PE teacher. The SLs recognised strengths and weaknesses in all of the three main approaches used. However, while they favoured the use of specialist teachers because of their subject knowledge and expertise, the more prosaic constraints of cost and flexibility meant that the use of coaches had become increasingly popular. Whether or not, the growth of coaches is de-professionalizing the delivery of PE, it certainly appears to be exacerbating any existing tendency to turn primary PE into a pale imitation of the sport-biased curricular of secondary schools. Ironically, the apparent ‘threat’ to the status of PE in the primary curriculum (as well as the status of PE specialists) posed by the growth of coaches in curricular PE in primary schools may well be exaggerated by the Primary PE and Sport Premium which appears to have added momentum to a change of direction regarding staffing the subject – towards sports coaches and away from generalist classroom teachers and PE specialists. As the shift towards outsourcing PE to commercial sports coaches becomes increasingly commonplace it seems appropriate to talk of transformation, rather than mere change, in the delivery of primary PE.