Preparedness for teaching primary curriculum subjects: Challenges for student teachers and physical education

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsInvited talkTeaching


Student teachers are not prepared to teach Physical Education (PE) entering the profession (Huddleston, 2021); this is concerning as calls grow for PE to become a core subject in UK primary schools meaning teacher competence is under enquiry.
Research outlines two Initial Teacher Education (ITE) elements responsible for restricting preparedness: during university-based learning, limited lectures are provided (Blair and Capel, 2008); moreover, due to outsourcing of PE’s workforce, opportunities for teaching PE on placement have been restricted, de-skilling teachers and de-valuing the subject (Randall, 2020). My study generated potential recommendations for ITE to ensure student teachers feel best prepared teaching PE; this paper explores reasons for limited preparedness outlining these recommendations.

As a theoretical framework, the study used the Professional Knowledge Model (Randall, 2013) to explore student teachers’ perceptions of preparedness delivering PE after completing ITE through a case study approach of an education department, conducted using Mixed Method Research via questionnaires (n=39) and interviews (n=6) within a pragmatic paradigm. Throughout, links were made with educational theories including: The Competence Matrix (Burch, 1970); Social Constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978); Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979); Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1995) and Growth Mindset (Dweck, 2006).

Data analysis used a thematic approach – both inductive and deductive: primarily inductive as themes were data led, and deductive as my self-developed 'nearsider' researcher position meant some pre-conceived knowledge existed. Data analysis supported key findings from previous studies including how outsourced providers negatively impact student teacher placements through limiting PE opportunities (Griggs, 2016) and that student teachers’ subject and pedagogical knowledge are developed through PE specific lectures, a cross-modular approach and placement experiences (Randall, 2013).

Additionally, the study found student teachers have both negative and positive early PE experiences impacting preparedness (Morgan and Bourke, 2008). However, the study found that despite student teachers’ pre-ITE thoughts of feeling ‘nervous’ and ‘overwhelmed’ about teaching PE, their views were not fixed and adapted by developing their emotional intelligence, becoming more consciously competent. Contrastingly, student teachers feeling more confident pre-ITE had to avoid complacency teaching PE and strive to develop their subject expertise to become potential future subject leaders.

The paper outlines recommendations for various stakeholders, including: how student teachers must acquire more experience pre-ITE; that lecturers should plan cross-curricular approaches with more PE assessment opportunities; that the course could introduce the Professional Knowledge Model alongside existing provision and how the education department could think creatively to generate further PE placement opportunities.
Period12 May 2023
Event titleTeacher Education Advancement Network Conference
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational