Improving the house of cards: Productive pressures for curriculum reform in secondary physical education

Year: 2006

Author: Penney, Dawn, Jess, Mike, Thorburn, Malcolm

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

More than a decade on from Locke's (1992, p.362) claim that "replacing the dominant curriculum program model is the only course of action that can save a place for physical education in secondary schools", the physical education curriculum in the secondary years would still be regarded by many as largely, unchanged. This paper identifies this situation as increasingly problematic and arguably, unsustainable amidst firstly, a growth in the prominence of discourses of lifelong learning and lifelong participation in political and policy arenas, and secondly, notable curriculum innovation in both the primary and senior school years that has sought to embrace these discourses. While we would agree with Kirk (2005) that the early years of secondary schooling may be too late as a focus for interventions underpinned by concerns for lifelong participation, this paper contends that these years remain a defining period that are, at this current time, far from guaranteed to either build upon or build towards 'surrounding' curriculum experiences. The paper focuses attention on physical education in Scotland to explore prospects and possibilities for curriculum reform in the lower secondary years that will better reflect and align with proximal developments and discourses.