Painting a national picture of Australian Pre-Service Teachers’ understandings of difference and inclusion in Health and Physical Education

This paper reports on the expansion in 2016 of the ‘Difference and Inclusion’ project to teacher education institutions across Australia. This development has extended the project data set to include cohorts of students in six institutions. The data arising enables a commentary to be presented on similarities and differences in the demographic characteristics of Health and Physical Education (HPE) pre-service students across Australia and provides insights into the extent to which we can legitimately portray ‘Australian HPE pre-services teachers’ as a group who have shared attitudes about curriculum and pedagogical issues associated with the learning area. The paper reports on analysis that has pursued key points of commonality and difference arising between the various institutional cohorts of pre-service teachers, and within the data set as a whole in relation to other demographic characteristics. The discussion will provide (i) a critical examination of the data in light of the goals for education articulated in the Melbourne Declaration, the aims of the Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education, and international pronouncements pointing to teacher education as a key arena via which to seek greater equity in physical education; (ii) invite critical review from each of the participating institutions on the use of the Diversity and Inclusion Scale Education-HPE as an educative tool in pre-service teacher education courses; and (iii) discuss furture developments of this research project.