Pupil Voice in PE and the desire for (in)visibility

Littlefair, David (2021) Pupil Voice in PE and the desire for (in)visibility. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The importance of children is a universally accepted concept in schools. Their rights are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). However, do we actually listen to what children have to say? Rudduck and Fielding (2002, p.2) argue that the voices of pupils are ‘silent’ or ‘silenced’. The purpose of this research was to listen to and hear the voice of pupils, regarding PE, in two schools in the north east of England. PE is a curriculum subject where there are few pupil voice studies, and what does exist tends to focus mainly on girls and state schools. This study incorporated girls, boys, an independent school and a state school. It involved 154, 14-16 years old pupils across the two schools. The aim of the study was concerning their experiences in PE, with the direction of the study being driven by pupils and thereafter following the issues that they raised.

A phenomenological approach was utilised as the study is about how pupils feel which can be individual and/or shaped by group interaction. A focus group in each school (6 pupils per study) drove the direction of the study which then sort breadth through a questionnaire to the whole year group in both schools (154 respondents) and finally depth through 12 individual interviews. Using the Braun and Clarke (2006) method of analysis, 5 themes emerged from the data, those being Choice, Participation, Pressure, Development and Ability, and Health. A theoretical framework was selected post findings to ensure that it best represented the emergent data. Social field theory was applied as an interpretative mechanism to explain and understand events, actions and behaviours.

Through this Pupil voice method, it emerged that pupils have vastly different experiences in the PE lesson. For some it is that of humiliation and censure, and for others it is about success and achievement. The uniqueness of the lesson with regard to physique and the exposure of both skill and body can affect this duality, negatively and positively. There are adverse consequences for deleterious experiences upon participation and health. The latter being something normally associated with PE for positive connotations. This can lead to the desire for or coerced (in)visibility for many pupils. Solutions from pupils, at both ends of the ability spectrum, to counter issues in PE involved giving choice of activity and having ability setting for classes.

The findings from this research have implications regarding how PE is structured and delivered in schools. It also demonstrates the benefits of an authentic Pupil Voice approach and the subsequent insight that pupils can bring to policy and practice in schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Physical Education in Schools, Children and Sport, Ability setting in PE, Choice in PE
Subjects: C600 Sports Science
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2021 08:15
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 08:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47590

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