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Health warning!. Physical education is the foundation for, and cornerstone of, physical activity promotion. PE’s key contribution to public health is effective promotion of active lifestyles. PE pays a lot of lip service to this area…we talk a good story but we don’t always ‘walk the talk’.

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Health warning

Health warning!

Physical education is the foundation for and cornerstone of physical activity promotion

Physical education isthe foundation for, and cornerstone of,physical activitypromotion

Pe s key contribution to public health is effective promotion of active lifestyles

PE’s key contribution to public health is effective promotion of active lifestyles

Pe pays a lot of lip service to this area we talk a good story but we don t always walk the talk

PE pays a lot of lip serviceto this area…we talka good story but we don’t always ‘walk the talk’

Some activities e g games are not more important than others e g dance gymnastics

Some activities (e.g. games) are not more importantthan others (e.g. dance, gymnastics)

What is this obsession we have with competitive team games

What is this obsessionwe have withcompetitive team games?

Physical education is different from but connected to physical activity and sport

Physical education is different from, butconnected to, physical activity and sport

Key features of curriculum pe are learning and inclusion

Key features of curriculum PE are ‘learning’ and ‘inclusion’



Health warning

As a consequence, school PEneeds to be taught bywell qualified professionals who regularly access professional development

Health warning

The identified learning in PE lessons is as, if not more,important, than the selected context (i.e. activities)

Health warning

To promote physical activity, it is not essential to exercise children to exhaustionor make everything fastand furious

You don t need to fitness test a child to help them be more active

You don’t need to fitness test a child to helpthem be more active

You don t need to weigh a child to help them be more active

You don’t need to weigha child to helpthem be more active

Health warning

Fitness testing could bepart of the solutionbut, unfortunately, is more often than notpart of the problem

Monitoring activity levels is more important than fitness testing

Monitoring activity levels is more important thanfitness testing

Pe teachers should know more about physical activity recommendations than fruit veg

PE teachers should know more about ‘physical activity’ recommendations than ‘fruit & veg’

5 a day

One hour a day

I am not anti competition anti games anti performance or anti fitness testing

I am not anti-competition,anti-games, anti-performance,or anti-fitness testing

Health warning

PE teachers shouldmeasure what’s important (e.g. physical activity levels, attitudes), not what iseasiest to measure(e.g. fitness, fatness)

Health warning

Assessment policies should give credit where it is due…PE teachers should stop rewarding skills only

Teaching physical competence is key to developing children s confidence and desire to be active

Teaching physical competenceis key to developing children’s confidence and desire to be active

Schools don t necessarily need more funds time or equipment to promote physical activity well

Schools don’t necessarily need more funds, time or equipment to promote physical activity well

Me then

Me then

  • PE teacher: concerns about non-participants and low ability and/or disengaged pupils

  • Hope: pupils active out of/when leave school, didn’t care at what level

Me now

Me now

  • Influences: Len Almond, Chuck Corbin, Ken Fox, Stuart Biddle…

  • 30 years of HRF…

  • Pragmatist



The role of schools and PE, in particular, in promoting active lifestyles and the extent to which this contributes to public health

Limited to date

Limited, to date

  • To date, the effectiveness of school PE in this area has been somewhat limited.

  • Says who?

  • Why?

Says who pe has not delivered the goods trost 2006

Says who? ‘PE has not delivered the goods’ (Trost, 2006)

  • Enduring emphasis on competitive team sports rather than true lifetime activities.

  • Failure to meet public health objectives.

  • Experiences not consistent with the goal of promoting lifelong PA.

  • Served the needs of athletically gifted children at expense of less athletic children whose need for regular PA and positive movement experiences is greater.

Health warning

‘It’s boring until Year 10, you have to learn all the skills and do the same stuff over and over again’ (Smith & Parr, 2007)

  • 11-14 year olds: dissatisfaction with repetitive, skills-based lessons.

  • 14-16 year olds: more +ve, lessons more sociable, recreational, game-oriented, more choice.

  • But mismatch between PE and leisure activities.

If you re not good at a certain sport then you don t like it lake 2001

‘If you’re not good at a certain sport then you don’t like it’ (Lake, 2001)

  • PE: dislike of - sport, teams, competition; feelings of: incompetence, frustration, forced participation.

  • Competitive team sport - privileged position in discourse - polarised orientations towards sport, PE and exercise.

  • Need to challenge the privilege afforded to particular modes of participation and to make efforts both to recognise and value alternative activities and meanings.

Resistant to change and requires radical change

Resistant to change andrequires radical change

  • Resistant to change; dominated by multi-activity, sport-based forms since mid-C20th.

  • Transmission of decontextualised sport-techniques to large classes. ‘When are going to play a game Sir/Miss’?

  • Learning rarely moves beyond introductory levels.

  • A conservative force in a largely conservative educational establishment.

But there are good reasons for pe s limited effectiveness in this area

But, there are good reasons for PE’s limited effectiveness in this area

  • Reduced physical activity in life generally

  • Competing, sedentary leisure-time activities

  • Limited (and/or reducing) PE time/resources

Plus it s complicated difficult

Plus, it’s complicated & difficult!

  • Behaviour change and social reform is highly complex.

  • There are no quick or easy fixes to activating a nation.

Are we serious

Are we serious?

  • If PE is serious about its contribution to public health, and is to be taken seriously, it needs to consider doing more than it currently does to promote active lifestyles.

Pe the chameleon of all curricula

PE, the chameleon of all curricula

  • ‘Muddled mission’.

  • Educating in and through the use and knowledge of the body and its movement.

  • ‘Learning to move’ and ‘moving to learn’.

Pe involves promotion of active lifestyles

PE involves promotionof active lifestyles √√√

BUT there is less clarity about:

  • What it is called

  • How this is achieved

  • How much it should be prioritised.

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name?

  • HRF?

  • HRE?

  • HRPE?

  • HEPE?

  • Health and Fitness?

  • Fitness?

  • Active Lifestyles?

Summary from research on hrpe

Summary from Research on HRPE

What do we know?

What do we NOT know?

How healthy is pe

How healthy is PE?

  • Expression of health in PE is neither universally accepted nor understood.

  • HRE = different things to different people.

  • Superficial understandings.

Confusion narrow interpretations unfounded assumptions

Confusion, narrow interpretations& unfounded assumptions

  • HRPE = dreary drill, running laps, FT


  • PA = Fitness

  • HRPE = daily PE

  • HRPE = lifetime activities only

  • Health = shape/size/weight or a fitness/bleep test score

Testing training and tinkering

Testing, training and tinkering

  • Teaching of activity areas untouched

  • ‘Fitness for life’ discourses commonly expressed through ‘fitness for performance’ practices e.g. testing, training activities.

Mind the gap

Mind the Gap!



National curriculum for pe in england

National Curriculum for PEin England

  • Key Concepts: healthy, active lifestyle.

  • Key Processes: making informed choices about healthy, active lifestyles.

  • Range and Content: exercising safely and effectively to improve health and well-being.

Physical education and health quebec education program

Physical Education and Health, Quebec Education Program


  • Adopts a healthy, active lifestyle

    • Commit to a process of changing lifestyle habits

    • Demonstrated by developing/implementing a plan that must include regular PA and by showing the ability to critically reflect on their own process and lifestyle habits and to analyse impact on health and well-being.

Thrash yourself thursday tyt lisa mcdermott university of alberta canada

‘Thrash Yourself Thursday (TYT)’Lisa McDermott,University of Alberta, Canada

  • Canadian elementary school fitness-based initiative to produce ‘healthy’ students

  • Participant observation; conversations with teacher and semi-structured interviews with 20 pupils (6-8 years)

  • Discursive onslaught intent on reconceiving PE as a site for intervening in the ‘pathologies’ of ‘inactivity’ and ‘obesity’.

Pete problems

PETE Problems

  • PETE is not adequately preparing future PE teachers to promote healthy, active lifestyles.

  • Changes need to be made to health-related interactions and experiences within PETE.

  • PE is unlikely to effectively promote healthy, active lifestyles without the health-related aspect of PETE being radically changed, especially and crucially the school-based provision.

Health related models and approaches

Health-related modelsand approaches

  • Physical Activity, Fitness and Wellness Education (Siedentop & Tannehill, 2000)

  • The Stairway to Lifetime Fitness (Corbin & Lindsey, 1997)

  • Pedagogical Model for Health-Based PE (Haarens et al., 2011)

Physical activity fitness and wellness education

Physical Activity, Fitnessand Wellness Education

  • To provide children/youth with the skills/knowledge that will prepare them to develop and maintain physical activity

  • Stairway to lifetime fitness: doing activity and exercise; getting fit; self-assessment of fitness and activity; self-planning; lifetime physical activity; lifetime fitness

  • Level of dependence – level of decision-making; level of independence

Stairway to health

Stairway to Health

The Fun Theory

Pedagogical model for hbpe

Pedagogical Model for HBPE

Draws on Jewett, Bain & Ellis’ (1995) and Metzler’s (2005) work on models-based practice in PE.

Central theme: pupils valuing a physically active life, so that they learn to value and practice appropriate physical activities that enhance health and well-being for the rest of their lives.

Health warning


  • Requires that teachers’ beliefs are oriented towards self actualisation and social reconstruction.

  • The affective domain (valuing physical activity) needs to be prominent in planning for learning.

Case for developing new pe for health pedagogies

Case for Developing new‘PE for Health’ Pedagogies

  • Surprising silence around the pedagogies to be used in the health dimension of PE practices.

  • Development of new, complex, evidence-based, personalised ‘PE-for-health’ pedagogies is next major step in PE research.

Personal thoughts views

Personal thoughts/views

  • PE develops competent and confident movers who regularly participate in and benefit from PA...leading to a lifetime of activity and enhanced quality of life.

  • Enormous potential to contribute to public health but significant challenges/constraints, and unreasonable expectations.

But we need to

But we need to...

  • Distinguish PE from PA and sport.

  • Clarify the learning beyond improving performance.

  • Meet the needs of ALL, especially ‘hard to reach’/vulnerable children.

Polarised views

Polarised views

  • HRPE = anti-competition, games, performance, fitness testing.

  • The teaching of skills and fitness need to be separated.

  • There is a hierarchy of activities.

Non evidence based practice

Non-evidence-based practice

  • Fitness tests do not provide an accurate measure of activity levels.

  • Dominant games-based curriculum fails to acknowledge participatory trends of young people.

Recommendations for physical educators

Recommendations forphysical educators

  • Student-centred: responsibility/decision-making; empowering; acting on dislikes, issues

  • Benefits of being active (social, psychological)

  • Develop competence and confidence of ALL pupils (fat, inactive, clumsy)

  • Reward/praise effort, progress, personal improvement (not just attainment)

Pa promotion mind set

PA promotion mind-set

  • Routinely inform of activity opportunities in EVERY unit of work

  • Educate about how active should be and assist in setting/achieving activity goals over time

  • Regularly monitor activity levels (including participation in PE, inclusive XC) & help to self-monitor/regulate

  • Identify/counsel ‘low active’ pupils

Reach out and move beyond pe

Reach out and move beyond PE

  • Engage in academic discourse across the curriculum

  • Play a central role in a whole school approach to health/PA

  • PA is not solely individually determined, it is dependent on social and physical support mechanisms

  • Communicate with families/community members

Recommendations for petes

Recommendations for PETEs

  • Knowledge of: PA & health; determinants of PA; behaviour-change theories.

  • Understanding of HR outcomes and how they might be achieved; skilling/re-skilling; creatively connecting concepts with activities.

  • Becoming critical consumers of knowledge.

  • PA advocacy (parents; policy-makers).

  • Working with professionals, diverse learners, families in school & non-school settings.

Disparate agendas for pe and public health

Disparate agendas for PEand public health

  • PE tends to reflect and reinforce concepts relating to fitness, sport and performance

  • While health education is more closely associated with health, activity and participation.

  • Consequently, PE teachers tend to be viewed outside the PE profession as sports teachers or coaches, more interested in performance and excellence, than participation and health.

And finally

And finally!

  • Activating a nation is complex. PE has a key part to play but can do better.

  • PE per se does not promote activity; pupils’ experiences and learning do this, determined by teachers’ philosophies, actions, interactions.

  • PE cannot be taken seriously in this area if it continues to pay lip service to it.

Thank you for your attention

Thank you for your attention!

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