The involvement of external agencies in extra-curricular physical education: reinforcing or challenging gender and ability inequities?

Academic Research in PE

The involvement of external agencies in extra-curricular physical education: reinforcing or challenging gender and ability inequities?

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Shaun D. Wilkinson & Dawn Penney (2014)

Abstract

Within the UK and internationally, schools are increasingly being encouraged to call on external

agencies and draw on the services of individuals, including sport coaches, to help teach or lead

sports within the school setting and out of school time. This trend arises from and has contributed

to a changing policy landscape and relations that characterise physical education and school sport

(PESS) and the growing use of the terminology of PESS. Previous research has highlighted that

neither PESS considered broadly as a policy space, nor specific initiatives centring on partnership based

development of physical education (PE) and/or sport in schools, can be assumed to facilitate

greater equity in provision for young people. This study reports on research that has sought to build

on past studies revealing gender and ability inequities amidst PESS developments. The research

was designed as a small-scale case study investigation to critically explore the equity-related

messages being conveyed in and through the hidden curriculum in a context of coaches

involvement in extra-curricular provision. Utilising observations and interviews with coaches and

PE teachers, data collection focused on ways in which ideas of ability, masculinity and femininity

were being constructed and reproduced in and through coachs pedagogy, and sought insight into

the prospective impact of the particular constructions on girlsand boysinvolvement in extracurricular

PE. Analysis revealed that the hidden curriculum expressed in and through the

organisation of extra-curricular PE and coachespedagogical practices in this context can be

seen as reaffirming limited conceptions of ability in PE and gender inequity in relation to girlsand

boysrespective participation opportunities. Discussion critically addresses the relationship

between policy and pedagogy in PESS in pursuing apparently ongoing tendencies for longstanding

inequities to be reproduced in and through extra-curricular provision.

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