Topic week4: Physical Education in schools

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized



After much deliberation and thinking about my topic for the coming weeks I have decided to write about the different aspects and benefits of physical education, and what its effects are on education. As my friends are aware, sports is a big part of my life. I represent the university in tennis and squash respectively, I  also instruct and coach children, introducing them to the sport from an early age and teach them basic techniques, ABC’S (Agility, Balance, Co-ordination and speed) (LTA, 2003) and other skills to improve performance for these sports, thus making it a great topic for me to learn more about, not just to better myself, but to impro my teaching methods and enhance the learning experience in my lessons.


ABC’S activity cards :


Girls In PE


For my first week’s topic I am going to concentrate on girls in sport. According to WSFF (NHS, 2013), only 12% of girls aged 14 take part in enough physical activity in their weekly activities. However the findings suggest that girls do want to take part in sport, although not in a competitive manner in competing against each other, they much prefer a much more social approach to sport. It was also noted that barriers were perceived in physical activity, with insufficient choice of activity and a feeling that only the talented were encouraged in participating in sporting activity. Therefore raising the question “how is our physical education programmes failing in schools?”

One intervention by the Welsh government is the 5X60 incentive (Leyshon, 2009) in secondary schools. This targeted non-sporty secondary school age children with after schools activities and sports where boys and girls can socially interact in a friendly environment without feeling uncomfortable, with officers (not teachers) arranging the activities, encouraging all youngsters to take part, not just the talented athletes. It’s goals are for each youngster to partake in 60 min of exercise five times a week which in turn will tackle obesity and promote friendly competitions which fits in directly to the WSFF findings in combating these interaction problems in girls and promoting sport participation. Would this approach be more effective in our schools by ensunring girls a positive experience of sports in schools through offering sporting choices, rather than an instructional, authoratative lesson? We will discuss this in further weeks


Achievement and Sport


Achievement has always been stressed in sport, in early years we develop a competitive nature and knowing whether or not we win or lose.  A study into education by Fox et al (1994) studied how ego goal orientation and task affected the motivation of the participant (hi/lo) and their sports competence (hi/lo), splitting them into four groups (hi/hi, lo/hi, hi/lo, lo/lo) based on the ego scales from a Task and Ego orientation in Sport questionnaire. The findings were as expected that the hi/hi group emerged as the most motivated and the lo/lo the least motivated, most of which were girls. Theses finding cause them to conclude that the girls in the lo/lo group are most at risk of non-participation in sport. These findings also conclude that task and ego profile analysis can therefore offer a good insight to the achievement motivation of the children. This can be generalised into an academic situation and is very worrying, 

This was shown by Skaalvik (1997) in Norwegian schools when he tested the same. The findings made associations between self-defeating ego orientation negatively related toward achievement and self-perception, while high ego orientation correlated with achievement, self-perception and intrinsic motivation in Norwegian schools.

Yes.. I know these studies are a little in depth and question intrinsically motivating issues, but from what is suggested assumptions could be made that sport affects academic achievement. Having a self-defeating ego to sport and could affect academic achievement. Does this then suggest that sporting participation and learning to set goals through sports could lead to better student grades?


The Roles of Teachers and Coaches during physical activity


In individual sports especially the coach- athlete relationship has been to be a more emotional in tone compared to team events. (Salminen et al, 2007) This can therefore be generalised to physical education, where the coach’s relationship with his pupils is going to be much less emotional and a lot more authoritarian driven.

One proven method of keeping children motivated in lessons has been successful in swimming coaches relationships in specific athlete age groups (Black, 1992) is shown by using Harter’s competence scale (1982).  When coaches adapted this method of coaching in Black’s (1992) study, showed that the coaches who offered more motivation through information and more frequent successful behaviours (reinforcement) and more frequent information with encouragement with undesirable performances had their athletes motivated and perceived of having athletes with higher success rates.


This again is a topic that I will go into more detail in future weeks!





These topics are what I feel are problematic areas in physical education teaching with many bridges needing to be formed and clarified in these areas, and hopefully others feel the same way!


Therefore next week I will discuss girls in sports in further detail (although I may get some hatred) discussing interventions needed to be made in order to increase activity and other objectives.


LTA (2003) ABC’S activity cards: Retrieved from


Girls ‘are being put off exercise and PE’ – Health News – NHS Choices (2012). Girls ‘are being put off exercise and PE’ – Health News – NHS Choices. Available at:


Leyshon., A. S. (2009) Physical activity, Extracurricular Sport and the 5×60 initiative: Leisure Lifestyles and Young People in Wales, 2007-2009. Retrieved from:


Black, J. and Weiss, M. (1992) The relationship among perceived coaching behaviors, perceptions of ability, and motivation in competitive age-group swimmers. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14 (3), p.309-325.

Fox, K. et al. (1994) Children’s task and ego goal profiles in sport. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 64 (2), p.253-261.

Salminen, S. and Liukkonen, J. (1996) Coach-athlete relationship and coaching behavior in training sessions. . International Journal of Sport Psychology , 21 (1), p.59-67.

Skaalvik, E. (1997) Self-enhancing and self-defeating ego orientation: Relations with task and avoidance orientation, achievement, self-perceptions, and anxiety.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89 (1), p.71-81.



  1. I’m going to look further at the point you made about the 5X60 incentive program being beneficial in improving fitness levels for Secondary School children. I could not agree more, with its objectives to encourage children of all ability to take part in sport. Ofsted (2012) reported that 3 in 10 children between 2 and 15 years are now classed as obese in the UK. However school PE lessons are not tailoring their teaching to accommodate this ability change. Overweight students said they would often sit out of games because the activity was too difficult for them. As you stated, students who receive more positive reinforcement are more motivated and ultimately more successful (Black, 1992). Therefore surely teachers need to change their lessons so all children can benefit, rather than the good getting better and the bad getting worse! Such behaviour has been coined the Matthew Effect (Walberg and Tsai, 1983). If motivation levels are significantly low in students who are overweight however, I question whether they would in fact want to join an after school program such as the 5X60 incentive. Perhaps Government money should be spent developing lessons and training teachers, rather than out of school officers?

    Ofsted (2012). Not enough physical in physical education. Retrieved from:

    Walberg, H.J, & Tsai, S.L. (1983). Matthew effects in education. American Education Research Journal, 20(3), 359-373. doi: 10.3102/00028312020003359

  2. psu210 says:

    I think that your blog addresses an important topic. I am also very engaged in sports and could not imagine living without it. I agree with you that sport enhances academic achievement. After a good run I always feel that I can more easily focus on assignments or readings. I think that the 5X60 incentive introduced in secondary schools is a good model for more initiatives to come. Schools should try to focus on getting children more engaged into sports because it has many positive effects.

    Steptoe et al. (1996) found out that sport participation is positively associated with emotional wellbeing. Even identification with a sport team is found to have a positive effect on self-esteem and social integration (Branscombe & Wann, 1991). Like you said not only taks and ability goals are important, but sports can also enhance social goals which encourages especially less talented children to engange in sport activities. Due to a study from Allen (2003) interest in sports is promoted by group sports activities.

    I think that school should put more emphasis on the teaching of sports and also extra-curricular activities as a part of attending community life. The U.S. High School system as an example could improve academic achievement. Trudeau and Stephard (2008) examined the impact of more PE emphasis in schools and demonstrated that this could lead to small absolute gains in academic achievement. Furthermore they showed that free school physical activity leads to a better concentration, memory and classroom behaviour.

    Reducing phycal education in schools by adding time to “academic” subjects does not lead to better academic achievement, but might instead lead to health problems. They conclude that free school physical activities should be added to the school curriculum and that this contributes to academic achievement and well-being.

  3. liamjw91 says:

    Brilliant blog, makes me wonder why I didnt think to delve into this topic myself as I’m a strong believer myself in the benefits that can be had from participating in sports.

    Anyway the point I was going to make revolved around the role that teachers/coaches in physical education. As well as being able to use reinforcement effectively to motivate students. It is also key that the teacher/coach is highly skilled in the area he is teaching so that they can provide a good model for students to look up to.

    This is based around the aspects of social learning theory, where people have been found to learn information from models provided (Bandura and McClelland, 1977). So if the model is unskilled they won’t provide a good example for students. Furthermore students have been found to have more respect and consequently pay more attention to an instructor who is skilled in their field (Beishuizen et al 2001). Anecdotally I myself can relate to this as when I was around 13ish I was playing Men’s cricket and in my team was my school P.E teacher, and most weeks I would outperform him in matches to the point where he was dropped from the team, however when it came to school he was still my P.E teacher, needless to say I didn’t really pay much attention to any tips he’d give me.

  4. psuc18 says:

    Hi David. Your blog this week is brilliant and I must say that I am looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs regarding this interesting topic.
    I love to participate in fitness and I visit the gym quit a lot therefore I was delighted to learn that physically active girls tend to be more motivated than girls who do not participate in any sport. However although this has been demonstrated in an experimental analysis I can’t say that I particularly agree with this finding in an ecological environment. Although I shouldn’t really admit knowing that Jesse will be reading this comment (ha!) I know a good handful of girls on the same degree course as me that are much more motivated and organised than myself even though they don’t participate in any sport whatsoever. So that’s definitely something to think about!
    When I researched into your field of interest I was astonished to see so much studies conducted on this topic! It really is an interesting subject.
    As you have previously mentioned, there is a huge amount of evidence in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of physical education and sport (PES) on academic abilities. Bailey (2006) went on to argue that as well as having a positive relationship with academic performances and motivation, they argued that PES also provides beneficial contributions to children’s development in a variety of domains including physical, lifestyle, affective, social, and cognitive.
    This really is an interesting subject and I look forward to reading your next blog!

    Bailey, R. (2006). Physical Education and Sport in Schools: A Review of Benefits and Outcomes. Journal of School Health. 76(8), 397-401.

  5. natberry2013 says:

    Your blog was an interesting and I can relate with what you are saying about many girls not engaging in P.E. The 12% of girls under the age of 14 not getting the recommended amount of physical activity struck a chord with me – I used to fabricate numerous excuses and hide in random places in the school to avoid participating in P.E.

    The points you made regarding the need for physical education and the ways of engaging girls to actively participate in P.E. are noteworthy, but one also needs to consider the impact that physical activity and P.E. lessons can impact on the learning of students. Indeed, in research conducted by Tremblay, Inman, and Willms (2000) a positive relationship between physical activity, self-esteem, and academic achievement in 12-year-old children was found. What makes this research even more compelling is the fact that the potentially confounding variables of sex, family structure, and socioeconomic status were controlled for.

    I was also interested in the role that you said that teachers and coaches can play in engaging girls in P.E. One of the main reasons for my reluctance to participate in P.E. lessons was that the staff were terrifying and would be extremely negative if P.E. was not one of your strong points. Claims like “you are letting your team mates down” and “your pathetic, look how much better Vicky is than you” were rife in my school. This was not helped by the fact that sports scholarships were awarded frequently so teachers would constantly compare the athletic ability of students – if this happened in more academic subjects it would be hugely frowned upon, so why do we allow it in P.E. lessons?

    Indeed, research has found that often P.E. teachers display negative attitudes towards non-sporty pupils, thus making these students even less likely to engage in physical activity (Green, 2000). If these attitudes towards non-sporty students were not expressed so openly, then perhaps more students would feel inclined to participate in sport, thus potentially improving their ability to work as a team, physical fitness, wellbeing, and exam grades.

    I also found an extremely interesting research paper by Cockburn and Clarke (2002) who argued that girls reluctance to participate in P.E. lessons is due to the fact that the lessons force them to negotiate the ‘femininity deficit’. The researchers note that the need to take off jewellery, tying hair back, dressing in a masculine fashion, and the need to get sweaty and dirty in front of others can cause embarrassment in an already difficult stage of development. This can in turn cause conflict for girls as it goes against the notion of the “desirable appearance” within the teenage culture that they are usually exposed to (Cockerill & Hardy, 1987).

    Due to the previous research in the area, it seems clear that physical activity can have a positive impact on the academic achievements of students. However, as you noted, there are some individuals who are not currently receiving the support and motivation to engage in P. E. lessons.


    Cockburn, C., & Clark, G. (2002). “Everybody’s looking at you!”: Girls negotiating the “femininity deficit” they incur in physical education. Women’s Studies International Forum, 25(6), 651-655. doi: 10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00351-5

    Cockerill, S. A., & Hardy, C. (1987). The concept of femininity and its implications for physical education. British Journal of Physical Education, 18(4), 149-151.

    Green, K. (2000). Exploring the everyday ‘philosophies’ of physical education teachers from a sociological perspective. Sport, Education and Society, 5(2), 109-129. doi: 0.1080/713696029

    Tremblay, M. S., Inman, J. W., & Willms, J. D. (2000). The relationship between physical activity, self-esteem, and academic achievement in 12-year-old children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 312-323.

  6. Steph says:

    I actually discussed the topic of P.E in last weeks blog and one of the main issues that really frustrated me was how there is a lack of physical education classes in Wales. Schools in Wales are only required to participate in 1hour every other week which just screams ridiculous to me personally. There are so many benefits such as obvious health benefits in relation to participating in physical activity not to mention improved confidence, self esteem, better social skills, intrinsic motivation… the list can go on and on. As mentioned above P.E can also help improve academic abilities as concentration levels increase after sport as they are given a break from the classroom setting and able to de-stress. I do not believe there is a coincidence that Wales has the highest overweight and obese children and participate in the least amount of P.E classes in the UK. Something definitely needs to be done to change this and it may help improve weight issues and other health issues related to obesity.

    Keller. J. M. (1987) Strategies for stimulating the motivation to learn. Performance + Instruction, 26(8) 1-7. doi 10.1002/pfi.4160260802

  7. psuce says:

    Hi I found your blog and interesting read and it shows how passionate you are about your chosen topic. After looking online I found some very interesting findings by Allender, Cowburn & Foster (2006) showing that the reason why older female students (16-18) participate in less sport is due to challenges to identity of having to show others their unfit body, lacking confidence and competence in core skills or appearing overly masculine. This shows how social and confidence can be a major factor in sport participation in older female student, however participating in sport could actually help them to make new friends and gain confidence. On the other hand this study also showed that young girls (11-14) have concern over maintaining a slim body shape motivated participants around young girls. I look forward to read the rest of your blogs on this topic.

    Allender, S., Cowburn, G., & Foster, C. (2006). Understanding participation in sport and physical activity among children and adults: a review of qualitative studies. Health Education Research, 21(6), 826-835.

  8. lon03 says:

    Solmon (2003) stated that some crucial factors to learning are a student’s attitude and if the teacher can create the proper atmosphere which allows students to feel confident and comfortable as it can enhance positive attitudes towards the subject (Chen & Darst, 2001). The reason I mention attitude is when it comes to physical education attitude is quite important as those who have a positive attitude to PE are more likely to continue this type of PE outside of school (McKenzie, 2003). So positive attitudes towards PE could help produce life-long participation in physical activity which I think teachers forget a lot about because my PE teacher was an idiot who didn’t know any other activity but football.

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