Physical education in Scottish schools - a national case study

Forsyth, Stuart (2003) Physical education in Scottish schools - a national case study. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 8 (2). pp. 211-227. ISSN 1740-8989 (

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The last comprehensive survey of physical education in secondary schools in Scotland was undertaken in 1989 (Sharp, 1991a, b). Since then, a number of national developments in Scotland focusing on sport and physical education have taken place, viz., development of certificated physical education (Fryer, 1991), establishment of the School Sports Co-ordinator Programme (Coalter andThorburn, 2003) and the introduction of a National framework for courses and qualifications in Secondary schools (Scottish Qualifications Authority, 2003a). The present study examined the changes that have taken place since 1989 in regard to five key areas - departmental composition, courses in physical education, time allocation, facilities and extra-curricular provision. The study showed a continuing malelfemale teacher imbalance, especially at promoted level, but a significant increase in the proportion of female teachers. In regard to course provision, the study showed a significant increase in the number of schools offering certificated physical education. It was concluded that the physical education profession has responded positively to the changes bought about by certification and the revised National course framework. In regard to time allocation, an overall increase was noted although there are variations across years. The reduction in core physical education in the first two years of Secondary school is a concern. The study revealed a continuing 'decline in access to facilities and extra-curricular provision. In summary, it is recommended that serious concerns such as reduced time for core physical education and access to facilities should be made known to the key agencies in Scotland which can influence provision for physical education in schools. The study recommends further, that in light of the number of ongoing national developments, the time interval before the next nationwide survey should be shorter than that between the 1989 study and the present one.