The Outsourcing of Health, Sport and Physical Education: An Appreciative Perspective

Year: 2017

Author: Enright, Eimear, McCuaig, Louise, MacDonald, Doune, Rossi, Anthony

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Ironically, at a time when teachers' work, the curriculum and students' performances are being more tightly monitored in most developed countries, the responsibility for the curriculum-in-practice is leaking outside the education system (Ball, 2007). Health and Physical Education (HPE) is ripe for outsourcing practices (such as curriculum packages and visiting external providers) given that schools are positioned as sites for health promotion and teachers are seeking the authority of expertise that fulfills content and assessment imperatives. While there is increasing scholarly interest in the outsourcing of HPE (See Sperka & Enright, 2017 for a scoping review), this work has, understandably and necessarily, tended to focus on the problematics of outsourcing.

In contrast, this paper identifies the strengths of various outsourcing practices and considers these strengths as the starting point for positive change and new directions in HPE. Drawing on a three-year Australian Research Council funded project that examines teachers' work and policy in relation to HPE and globalisation, we engage with textual (e.g. interview transcripts, observation notes) and visual data (e.g. photographs of health related communications) generated in six Australian schools to highlight how and why various outsourcing practices have succeeded. Theoretically, we are informed by an appreciative orientation (Enright et al, 2013) and the future of schooling literature (Slaughter & Beare, 2011).

Findings suggest that the majority of external providers have become sophisticated in terms of the resources they offer and services they provide. There is much to be learned in particular from their production of digital, malleable resources that are aligned to the national curriculum, their creation of digitally enabled teaching communities, and their online professional development. Numerous providers have also successfully recruited school staff and members of the wider community (including parents) to support the delivery of their message and service. Our discussion considers HPE futures and the implications of involving new voices, new knowledges and new interests in HPE.