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Primary teachers as physical education curriculum change agents

Carse, Nicola (2015) Primary teachers as physical education curriculum change agents. European Physical Education Review. ISSN 1356-336X

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There has been some exploration of the conceptualisation of teachers as change agents within educational change literature. While this body of work does consider how teachers understand, harness and influence the process of curriculum change, within the policy rhetoric and educational change literature there is limited reference made to how the change agent role is translated into practice. To illustrate the complex nature of the change process this paper explores the experiences of generalist primary teachers at the ‘chalk face’ as they initiate physical education curriculum change within their school contexts. This paper reports on the findings of a study investigating how five Scottish primary teachers with a postgraduate qualification in primary physical education construed and took forward curriculum change. A qualitative and interpretivist approach to the research was taken to analyse how the knowledge and skills the teachers gained from the professional development they had undertaken contributed to their agency to initiate curriculum change within their school contexts. Drawing on the work of Fullan, the concept of change agentry is used to analyse the experiences of the individual teachers as they exercised their agency to enact curriculum change. The paper concludes by reflecting on the findings of the study to suggest factors that may support and constrain teachers acting as change agents.