Primary teachers, policy and physical education

Kirsten Petrie, lisahunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the challenges arising for primary school teachers who have responsibility for teaching physical education (PE) and who are working in particularly complex and contestable policy contexts. In New Zealand provision of physical education is identified as occurring amidst multiple, and not necessarily compatible, sets of expectations, associated with government prio-rities, initiatives focusing on children's health, sport, and improved national achievement outcomes. This article examines the contemporary educational policy landscape, and the effect constantly shifting policy initiatives have on teachers' work in physical education in primary schools. Key themes characterizing primary PE teaching/teachers' situation currently centre on pressures to adhere to policies that have stricter accountability measures, the utilization of 'external providers', limited time for teacher learning and what appears to paralysis by policy. Discussion considers possible alternative approaches to the development of policy that would arguably better support teachers of physical education in primary schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-339
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Physical education
  • Policy
  • Primary schools
  • Teachers

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