Decision-making in the physical education curriculum: an analysis of the student voice in English secondary state-schools

Jack Hardwicke, Joseph Reed, Eric Anderson, John Batten, Adam John White


Debates surrounding youth participation in governance have permeated a range of fields in the last two decades. This commentary is predominately situated in education and civic participation domains, with sporting domains remaining largely under researched. Indeed, this research becomes sparser when considered in school physical education and sport. In this paper, we consider the position of the student within decision-making processes in the physical education curriculum in English secondary state-schools. The paper reports on survey data from 288 English secondary state-schools exploring students’ involvement in decision-making related to the PE curriculum. Findings show considerable numbers of the schools reported no contribution from students to the physical education curriculum (n=54), and processes that were in place were problematic. Drawing on the legal framework of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we argue that the lack of student voice in the physical education curriculum presents a contemporary policy concern within the English education system that requires further investigation.

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