The Natural Curriculum, esp Gender and Inclusion in PE – Education Dissertation, 7000 words

What Changes have taken place in the national curriculum governing secondary schools, specifically in relation to the issue of gender and inclusion in physical education?




The paper proposes a framework for assessing the changes have taken place in the national curriculum governing secondary schools, specifically in relation to the issue of gender and inclusion in physical education.


The author feels that this study can actually contribute to the improvement in the current PE practices in the UK secondary education in terms of gender inclusion. The author feels that this change, while it is long due in the UK education sector will require a lot of time and cost as well as an effort to change societal attitudes. In addition to the above there will be a need to carry out a considerable amount of educational endeavors and research to actually promote a gender bias free PE education environment in the UK At the most this paper can become a part of the current and ongoing research in the context of gender inclusion in UK secondary education. The paper uses the case study of the UK secondary schools to discern the extent to which gender inclusion to be removed from the current education climate.


The author has utilized a number of UK -specific journals and secondary resources as a means of establishing those factors, which denote the presence or the lack of gender inclusion practices in the UK educational sector. The findings have been analyzed according to the evidence and the perceived impacts of such practices. So far literature has indicated that the UK education sector has lagged far behind in this regard due to its lack of willingness to give up traditional PE practices, which promote gender exclusion and discrimination.


The author will give recommendations at the end of this paper for the way forward within the UK secondary educational sector and try to elucidate exactly how the UK education sector can set a good example to the other educational jurisdictions around the world.

























Main research question:


What Changes have taken place in the national curriculum governing secondary schools, specifically in relation to the issue of gender and inclusion in physical education?








Key Aims and Objectives


  • To Identify key gender issues involved in PE practice in pedagogy in terms of curriculum policies, grouping practices and mixed sex PE teaching practices


  • To evaluate whether ‘whether sex matters?’ in Physical Education


  • To identify the importance of researching gender issues in PE curriculum in the UK
  • To gain an understanding of issues related to gender & PE in Secondary Schools in the UK


  • To recognize the premises behind mixed and single sex grouping in PE in Uk secondary schools


  • To Identify key issues related to gender and access in PE in the National Curriculum requirements for inclusion related to gender




























This paper will discuss the statutory and policy basis of gender equality and inclusion with the UK curriculum and relevant changes in terms of the national curriculum governing secondary schools. To address these there will be a discussion of the UK government’s current and past concern with gender inclusion in many aspects of educational policy has generated much professional debate amongst academics, teachers and policy makers. The need for P.E. has been highlighted to respond to male and female pupils’ diverse learning needs in many commentaries. The starting point of discussion is of course more relevant to gender inclusion the Gender Policy Framework in Britain Equal Opportunities Commission (2007), which had the following objective:

Challenging gender stereotypes in subject choice and careers advice pupil attainment sexual and sexist bullying and violence


This framework applies to all public authorities particularly those connected with primary and secondary education. The framework[1] itself consists of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (updated 2005 and amended by the Equality Act 2006), which makes gender discrimination at educational institutions unlawful in terms of access of to benefits, facilities and services. In line with this duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment   key points here will relate to the general and specific duties placed upon public institutions to promote gender equality under the current policy and legislative framework. The aims of ‘gender mainstreaming’ are set out in the Gender Equality Duty Code of Practice England and Wales (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2007), which gives practical guidance to educational public institutions in meeting their obligations under these duties[2].


Since the discussion at hand requires an evaluation of the changes to the national curriculum governing secondary schools, specifically in relation to the issue of gender and inclusion in physical education, it is worth noting that the National Curriculum for compulsory education as incorporated with in statute  (for students aged five to 16) aims to secure an entitlement for the physical education of all students regardless gender, class, and status based upon its mission statement guaranteeing inclusion of all pupils. The non statutory guidance in this regard is very clear about how innovation and design of the curriculum should actually address challenging gender stereotypes by adopting physical activities in a way to make them more inclusive of the other sixths would mean that the secondary schools would be under a duty to extend the national curriculum in a way which would make physical exertion and activity more appealing to disabled, less economically fortunate as well as the female students.


One of such measures has been for example allowing them to retain their feminine outlook and posture during PE rehearsals, which would make them less self-conscious about sports and exercise being solely masculine phenomena. Physical education and inclusion are also at the top agenda of the additional Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) 11 curriculum with in secondary education for key stages two, three and four. It is important to note that gender equality and inclusion form the top agendas for both concepts of “personal well-being” and “diversity” at key stages 3 and 4 under the PSHE curriculum, in terms of the institutional commitments of providing inclusive strategies within physical education.





In addition to the current policy and legislation which promotes inclusion and gender equality with the physical education related National Curriculum, it is important to assess, as a part of the literature review the fact that it is important to take into account the institutional and academic criticisms of these policies. This will be assessed in the light of a number of theories, which relate to gender inclusion in public institutions.


A comparison will also be made of the same with the gender equality and inclusion frameworks in Australian and American secondary institutions to elicit a clearer view of the effectiveness or the lack thereof of inclusive strategies in physical education. In terms of the UK, the main changes in physical education based inclusive strategies being reviewed will focus mainly upon those, which have occurred with in the last two decades under various political regimes.

The sources, which will be reviewed in the literature review at hand, will include the policy documents, statistical figures and tabulations and demographic evidence from all three countries with a main emphasis on how the matter has been dealt with in the United Kingdom. Theoretical inferences will be made from the works of authors who have commented on public policy and gender inclusion theoretical frameworks and models.


The study approach is based on the hypothetic-deductive methodology, which will focus on a conceptual development of a framework for the future studies. The author has utilized relevant literature; a review of practices in other jurisdictions and a thorough research from Internet based electronic journals. The most basic keyword search has been conducted through Google Scholar and this will then be used to build upon further and more detailed searches from the Cambridge, Science Direct and Emerald Insight journals. An offline search was carried out amongst the DfEE and NCPE official documents. The documents, which were selected initially for this ongoing research endeavor, have been appended in the list of preliminary references at the end of the proposal.


The findings from the literature review will be used to discern perceptions of the barriers, which are being faced in ensuring a holistically efficient and inclusive approach to the gender issues in the UK secondary education. Care has been taken to follow the SMART criteria. To this end an effort has been made to ensure that the objectives are Specific, Measureable, Appropriate, Realistic and Time constrained. It is anticipated that there might be quite a few risks, which might jeopardize the validity of this study as its subject to bias due to the selection of the studies without a proper research strategy. Another problem is that the available “recent” (2005 onwards) literature on gender inclusion in UK secondary school practices is extremely rare and limited and for the same reason the author feels that an offline search in the libraries for the material became very time consuming


Significance and Justification of research


The literature review strategy is justifiable as it provides the most effective way of encapsulating the broad research aims and objectives namely the   net impacts of the NCPE on secondary school gender discrimination. Secondary source material like journals and books in conjunction with state reports has been used along with government publications to outline the major issues and themes at work.  Such assessments will then act as an effective foundation for the personal empirical research, which will be undertaken and basically forms the main aim and ambit of this study. Above all, it is quite obvious through reference to the plethora of academic input on the subject that gender exclusion is an issue of particular concern in UK secondary education. The methodology suggested also indicates the extent to which a multi disciplinary approach is essential. Thus, in academic terms there is considerable future significance for this paper and a strong measure of justification. Moreover, given the social connotations of the proposed research then it is certainly possible to argue that the proposed research has an importance and relevance that transcends into the traditional concepts of male and female segregation in PE practices




Literature Review



The NCPE and other government initiatives



At the time the NCPE came out, William and Bedler (2001:64) based the following views about it, “

“If this inclusive curriculum is to become a reality in PE, there is a need for a clearer recognition by teachers of the different ways in which female pupils position themselves both in relation to gender and culture. This implies a curriculum which offers greater flexibility and choice prior to key stage 4, set in a learning context which recognizes multiple definitions of physical and leisure activity~ p 64 ”


PE has a long history of being associated with gendered patterns of organization manifested within teacher training. It is also worth noting that many a times, especially in the UK, the provision of PE for girls is usually deemed to be the responsibility of the female education staff. Many a times it is possible to note that different activities are included in the PE curriculum for girls as compared to boys and this is something, which is still happening in the UK even after the National Curriculum changes. The 2000 National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE) prompted a lot of questions as to whether this was a fair arrangement and whether or not it could be justified on educational grounds. Gender issues in PE typically emerge when male secondary students are encourages participating in major sports like soccer, cricket and rugby, where as the female child students are pushed towards netball, hockey and rounders. This gives rise to the query whether Britain is better off after the NCPE in terms of having equal access to particular activities in the secondary school curriculum. One suggestion has been that teachers should consider adopting mixed or single sex groupings in the interests of equal opportunities in Physical Education. The NCPE focuses upon three major principles of gender Inclusion namely

  1. “Setting suitable learning challenges
  2. Responding to pupils’ diverse learning needs
  3. Overcoming the potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils” (NCPE 2000 p 28).


It also promotes the query that we should not unnecessarily attack the UK NCPE as some of these traditions and structures in PE conducive to gender inclusion in PE. Under the DfEE (1999) the teachers are under a duty to create effective learning environments in which:

“Stereotypical views are challenged and pupils learn to appreciate and view positively differences in others, whether arising from race, gender, ability or disability” (DfEE, 1999: 29)

The UK National Curriculum for PE (2000) endorses teaching approaches that include equality of opportunity in relation to the following:

  • “Ensuring that boys and girls participate in the same curriculum”
  • “Taking account of the interests and concerns of boys and girls by using a range of activities and contexts for work”
  • “Avoid gender stereotyping when organizing pupils into groups, assigning them to activities, or arranging access to equipment” (DfEE, 1999 p 30) “


Flintoff (1996) and Scraton (1992) took out very insightful studies that suggested that traditional forms of practice in PE have in practice proved remarkably resistant to change. It is social construction and not biological differences that form the pith and substance of gender inclusion or the lack thereof in PE. Flintoff (1996) suggested that ours is a society haunted by the subconscious reinforcement and reproduction of gender inequalities and stereotypical ideas about feminine and masculine ideal (Flintoff 1996) .In a qualitative study by Wright (1996) women who grew up in UK schools found the PE experience demeaning and alienating for them. Therefore the entire purpose of the NCPE is defeated wherever we as a state education system fail to provide these secondary school level girls a good set activities by assuming what they need rather than directly making an effort to address their needs by trying to fit the into netball based on the idea that they should play netball as girls (Cockburn 2001). The UK curriculum has till date then failed to design PE in a way, which will shape these young ladies up for woman hood, and automatically perceiving girls to be docile and quiet. The male stereotype is assumed to be louder, faster and more daring. Till date the design of the NCPE has been justified in this false perception based on stereotypes no matter what the curriculum states. Even back in 1992, before the UK government took notice of the PE stereotyping gender exclusion in the UK schools, Scraton observed, perhaps quite rightly, “The restrictive rules of many ‘girls’ sports encourage young women to learn that their bodies need protecting and that they must remain enclosed within personal space”(Scraton 1992: 54)


In the Nike/YST Study in 2000 it was noted that in terms of secondary education,

“Providing, as some schools did, traditional ‘male’ activities for girls and ‘female’ activities for boys may be one step in the right direction. However, such initiatives need to be accompanied by an explicitly anti-sexist pedagogy. While some male and female PE teachers remain hostile to anything but traditional forms of PE, such ‘radical’ ambitions may remain some distance from being realized” (Nike/YST 2000: 59).


Based on the above observations the author will now continue with a review of the literature as it pertains to the effects of the national curriculum.


Gender inclusion and secondary education


Physical education targeted at ending gender exclusion in P.E. is beneficial for the society generally .In the context of this dissertation specifically, maintaining the physical and mental health of the young children through physical education at the secondary level of education people in a gender neutral way can enrich their social lives. The physical advantages of such activities for young children can include the strengthening of the cardiopulmonary functions controlling of body weight, improvement in blood pressure and reduction the level of blood lipids, achievement in better control of diabetes, reduction in the injury from falls, prevention of stroke and coronary heart disease, and prevention of osteoporosis in later life which are basically a need for the health and betterment of the future children in the society. At the secondary education level recreational programs and P.E. targeted at the children can motivate them to be physically active and to have a constructive use of their leisure time. This will allow them, in their later life build social networks and participate in their community affairs in healthy and positive way (Hallie et al (1997). Mixed gender P.E. programmes in schools also have the potential of promoting friendly relations between the two genders and the perception of equality and harmony between the two sexes earlier on in their lives.


Gender inclusion at the secondary school level remains a key tenet of positive youth development (PYD) through enhanced physical education. PYD has developed over recent decades to become an integral component in both the theoretical assessment of P.E. based youth development and also practical application. The building of confidence and teamwork in both male and female students is essential to effective PYD, and physical education as a part of a compulsory national curriculum has the potential of achieving notable success in instilling both these essential components.  Furthermore, Holt (2007; p.1) outlines the manner in which PYD conceptualizes young children’s PE as being “a resource to be developed rather than a problem to be solved”.  Therefore, effective PYD in P.E. represents a “strength based conception of development (Holt, 2007; p. 1).  Thus, given that undertaking P.E. activities requires a measure of proactive effort on the part of the young student l, it is clear how PE and effective PYD work in conjunction and indeed complement each other. Holt’s views have been endorsed by  (Perkins (2007), Poinsett (1996), Gatz et al (2002) and Adams & Brodsky (2005) all of which have agreed with the imminent need of bringing about gender equality in the provisions for a national curriculum in spirit and application for youngsters.



Weinberg & Gould (2007) suggest that there is a clear and direct link between the unwillingness of females to engage in P.E. and societal attitudes.  Firstly, the assertion is made that partaking in P.E. results in better levels of behaviour among secondary level juvenile students.  This suggestion is supported by a number of theoretical reasons namely that PE   For example; firstly P.E. is a motivational force for secondary level juvenile students.  Secondly, taking part in P.E. activities requires that the young student dedicate a considerable time and effort to the Endeavour, often over a relatively long time period. Moreover, it is suggested, “participants in organized P.E. are less likely than nonparticipants to engage in delinquent behaviour” (Weinberg & Gould, 2007; p. 558). It follows from this that that gender inclusion is extremely important in terms of a national curriculum, and can be used to combat one aspect of social exclusion, namely gender bias in the provisions of the national curriculum.

From a political perspective, the word Social Exclusion has also since the landslide victory of the Labor government as a key governmental initiative in dealing with disadvantaged groups in the society. P.E. Has also remained at the forefront of the EU and UK agenda for political change in terms of dealing with disadvantaged groups. Secondary level female students from low income and minority groups as well as those with disabilities and the homeless are often cited as the key risk groups for exclusion within P.E. routines in schools. This means that exclusion is occurring not in singular gender contexts but in multiple intersections with in it in the society. P.E. Has no doubt been at the forefront of education policy as a tool for preventing gender exclusion but despite the popularity of P.E. and its immense potential as a policy tool practical experience has shown some extremely basic problems which lie at the root of the concept of “mixed” P.E. programmes. It is however noted that the problem may also lie in the recruitment of secondary school teachers within an all-inclusive framework (based on the UK Education Reform Act 1988). In an article focusing upon the recruitment of secondary school physical education (PE) teachers Stidder (2002:249) investigates “ gendered dimensions of this and assesses the extent to which secondary school employers in England use socially constructed perceptions of gender as a basis to advertise for PE staff”.  He concludes that, “secondary schools are restricting employment opportunities for male and female teachers through the vocabulary used in national advertisements and thus perpetuating gender divisions within PE “ (ibid)


From a sociological perspective when we see the relationship of P.E. upon gender exclusion even at the level of secondary education, it is possible to note the way P.E. in our society has been socially constructed as a contributor rather than an eliminator of gender exclusion. P.E. Has not been constructed to exclude the female sex. Payne (2006) has explored the role of gender divisions sex boundaries between children at an earlier age, remain invisible until problems start occurring in the later life attitudes of these children after they grow up. Oakley (2007) has a criticized the failing role of UK state policy in preventing gender issues in P.E. and comments that the lack of the same can cause Britain to leg far behind in developing the notions of strong citizenship and community by enabling women at a younger age in the modern British society.


Another interesting dimension for the same comes from the works of Henry (2001) who has spoken about the relevance of political issues and gender inclusion in secondary education from the social, economic and cultural changes as they have occurred since the Thatcher era. The saner point of view of course comes from writers like Ibbetson et al (2003) who have spoken about the role of P.E. in terms of its potential, participation and possibilities as they arise in the interests of gender inclusion if handled properly at the secondary level of education. Sexual orientation remains a key issue in combating gender exclusion because of the traditional constructs in our society of masculinity as discussed by Anderson  (2005), Alvarez (2008) and Aitcheson (2007). Perkins & Noam (2007) have offered a comprehensive comparison of the UK P.E. programs with P.E. based development programmes in the United States and Australia.  The use of such cross-cultural examination can lend much credence to the view that Britain’s paperwork policy is more cohesively written despite lacunas in application.


The actions of central government in relation to increasing levels of children in P.E. generally centre on the Children’s Act 2004 (DCMS; 2010).  Under this act the role of the local schools and grassroots level government authorities become pivotal in the implementation of directions contained within the legislation. Also, such sources exemplify the role of P.E. in ensuring that behavioral problems amongst secondary level juvenile students are combated in a proactive way, which empowers the young student and places them at the centre of analysis.

The dimension of Gender exclusion, gender relations and sexuality in secondary education has been further explored by many commentators dominating view is that the both in extricable linked in terms of exploring the relationship between female athletes and their exclusion in P.E It is worth looking at the societal attitudes towards masculinity with a discussion about the role and experience of female players in football and cricket and other venues of physical education.


Till date the role of state initiatives in designing a gender sensitive curriculum has promoted the  ‘feminization’ of formally male P.E. arenas in the case of basketball, triathlon and cricket.

In conclusion this section has explored important academic reflections about gender and sexuality, as they should feature in the national compulsory curriculum in the UK schools.


The framework for the way ahead for change and innovation in PE was suggested by Wright (1999:194) who gave a four-step stakeholder approach in removing discrimination from the PE curriculums:


Curriculum Change & Innovation in PE


Consultation with pupils, parents and members of staff.


Other people matter – Give them a voice
Opportunities for reflection by students and teachers as to how gender is constructed in and through PE, sport, the print and electronic media





Factors involved in the strategies for eliminating gender exclusion
•Equal opportunity & access

•Curriculum content

•Grouping policy

•Sex-role socialization

•PE Department structure

•Teachers’ expectations & attitudes

•Recruitment and selection of staff

•Extra-curricular provision

•Pupil’s activity choices and preferences




A framework for eliminating the social construction of gender in PE Exclusion Reality and Society

What do the Children think about Mixed Sex PE? Findings from the Ofsted review in 2000


One quarter of pupils felt it was important to be taught PE by a teacher of the same sex


Some pupils felt that it depended on the activity (swimming cited most often)


Two thirds of pupils surveyed favored coeducational PE

Girls less committed to the idea of mixed sex PE than boys


The dominance and poor behaviour of boys was often cited by teachers as a weakness of mixed sex PE

Anatomical differences, growth and maturation rates of boys and girls posed particular problems for teachers in mixed sex groups


Participation rates were higher in single sex groups


Age was a critical factor in determining the preferences of pupils to single or mixed sex PE


The greatest preference for sex segregated PE was in the 13-15 age range


(OFSTED findings)


The sex of the individual is not problem THEREFORE the issue is socio-cultural And THUS Efforts need to focus on Girls, Boys, Men & Women OFSTED 1996  ‘The Gender Divide’ p20

“Inspectors frequently found that boys and girls choose to work and play separately.  They seldom opt to do collaborative work in mixed groups and sometimes show a marked reluctance to do so”




Questions to ask for future studies   
Mixed sex or single sex groups or both in PE at the secondary level?


Link between equal opportunity and access to the PE curriculum?


Is segregation in PE classes and the retention of a gender-differentiated PE curriculum appropriate to young people today?


Can modern day UK PE practices respond to the NCPE statutory statement for social inclusion specifically related to gender?



Going beyond NCPE: What can actually be “done” to alleviate the still solid accusations of Gender inclusion in UK secondary educations.


Till date, it has been possible to discern from most of the studies involving PE for secondary school in Britain that while multi-agency working is a something that figures significantly in the available frameworks, it is not always possible to ensure parental co-operation coming from families where there are inherent problems of culture. One example is of conservative cultures for where example the Muslim student’s parents do not favour mixed PE for their young female children. One author states thus, “PE is a subject in which tensions sometimes arise because of mismatches between subject provision and what is acceptable for Muslim students. The need for debate is real, for example, recently a colleague in another HE institution made contact for advice when a Muslim trainee refused to participate in PE because it was in mixed- sex groups with male tutors. Should she fail her course or is this a case of institutional religious discrimination?” (Ben and Dagkas (undated thesis: 25). Therefore instead of going into a passionate debate about gender inclusion in UK secondary education it must be seen that the UK society is a melting pot of many cultures and societies. Another case against mixed sex PE is the natural reluctance of the two genders to mix in play or PE.While it would be wrong to assume that girls like dolls and boys like sports, it is also noteworthy that single sex PE might even feel the girls coming from liberal families more comfortable.

Some of these reasons can be set out in the following table:


The Case for Mixed Sex PE at Secondary levelThe case against mixed sex PE at Secondary school levels
Rationale for Mixed Sex PE


Direct response to staff shortages


Falling school rolls


Timetabling issues


General convenience


Assumption that mixed sex grouping is the same as mixed sex teaching


Breaks down gender barriers


Easier to timetable


Allows for pooling of staff expertise


Natural progression from Junior school


Increases curriculum choice


Less gender stereotyping


Boys provide a more competitive situation for the girls


Boys and girls overcome stereotypes of male/female participation patterns


All other subjects taught in mixed groups


Boys and girls benefit by being taught by male and female staff equally


Integration is better than segregation


Improves standards of behaviour


Boys less likely to view girls as non-athletes


Institutional segregation is a form of educational apartheid


Coeducational PE supports the comprehensive ethos in our education system







Girls are less actively involved


Boys harass and ridicule girls both verbally and physically


Girls perform less well


Behaviour and role play are more polarized


Boys dominate space and teacher attention

•It is potentially dangerous


Does not account for cultural differences like Muslims etc


In mixed team games girls become non assertive, give up and hang back


Girls become the negative reference group


Places male and female teachers in a compromising position (Changing room supervision)


Male teachers are uncomfortable in dealing with excuse notes related to menstruation and injuries of female students

Men interact far less frequently with girls


Female staff find it difficult to cope with the extra-competitive nature of boys



Self segregation occurs automatically in mixed sex PE


It supports the ‘Us versus Them’ and ‘our events and their events’ attitude


 Can increase the likelihood of sexual abuse and harassment?




The case for single sex PEThe case against the single sex PE

Girls and boys are completely different emotionally and physically?


Boys will be boys and little can be done to change their behaviour in an educational context


Gender equity is about fairness to girls


Efforts towards equitable coeducation have failed leaving no recourse other than single sex solutions


It is necessary to prepare boys and girls for the disparate roles they will assume as adults


Participation rates increase


Pupils are less embarrassed


Standards of behaviour are better


Girls are less inhibited


Men prefer teaching boys and women prefer teaching girls


Boys prefer being taught by men and girls prefer being taught by women


Greater levels of involvement and effort


Boys and girls are more enthusiastic


Less differentiation has to take place


Does not challenge boys’ and girls’ sexuality


Girls less likely to be marginalized in team games


Girls less likely to experience performance anxiety particularly when demonstrating




Perpetuates gender stereotypes


Socially conditions children


Less curriculum choice


Staff unable to teach a full range of activity


It is inherently sexist


Less opportunity for staff development


Year 7 students initially find it difficult to adapt


Boys are disadvantaged in terms of facilities. Boys are often expected to use outdoor facilities in poor weather whilst girls follow a alternative programme indoors


Conveys hidden messages to children about the suitability of gender as a means of differentiating


Actively contributes to overall perceptions of masculinity and femininity


Confirms deep rooted assumptions about gender


Access and opportunity are the same but are not identical




The future of Gender inclusion in the UK NCPE framework


For the future the NCPE must focus upon training the teachers and academic practitioners in a uniform manner about gender exclusion and ideally link the physical, emotional, social, spiritual realms of cognitive development of children of both sexes in the realm of P.E, Studies should be set up to gain more qualitative responses from young children, basically designed to explore their perceptions of “PE” and learning during “PE” where the responses from children should be recorded. It should be seen how the PE system is linked to the Creative Development, Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Physical Development and Communication Language and Literacy of both sexes. It has been seen how other studies have also showed preference for PE based settings for young children for assessing any learning problems and capabilities in early years of study .PE routines have the potential of allowing the teacher to listen and observe from the child’s environment their basic psychological and cognitive leanings, particularly in outdoor activities which also give rise to sports and other PE activities.


However participatory research with young children as subjects can cause a number of challenges as shown by the observations from the Ofsted findings. Such research based on the Stakeholder approach should ideally be based upon listening and construction of responses in an attempt to understand the individual children’s needs and interests as they pertain to the way they respond to the rules, boundaries and routines of their PE settings and their need for freedom of PE and interaction. This was found to be true in the 2000 Ofsted experiences, where the responses reflected a certain lack of ease with the “suggested” PE themes with the children not being as involved and interested in such activities than the ones they wanted to choose for themselves regardless of Gender (See the findings section above) This unease rose from being regulated in settings involving same sex teachers and their own perceptions of the real world experiences which they found suppressed there in.


However while the PE mixed sex setting is conducive to the “observer” of male and female juvenile behaviour, the traditional approaches of watching rather than hearing and being “disinterested” can cause a clash in perception indeed. Clark and Moss (2001) have stressed upon thus, to “listening” the male and female objects of study to understand the intrinsic needs and motivations, which drive the child’s tendencies competencies towards PE by listening (Clark and Moss 2001).  The observer should therefore avoid assuming what the Male or Female child might prefer as a PE activity and listen and record what the child would like to get across in his /her opinion, which is something that can be hidden by the ‘lenses’ adults use to view children and childhood’ (Clark 2004b: 1).


Reform for the NCPE can only come in when the everyday interactions and observations of young male and female children are recorded thus giving them opportunities to be heard for routine decision-making of what they want for PE on their own but without assuming that children are a homogenous group with possibly identical views about their learning and PE environment.


Thus the whole process of listening to children instead of making traditional assumptions about their likes and dislikes becomes an ‘integral part of understanding what they are feeling and what it is they need from their experiences’ and a ‘vital part of establishing respectful relationship’ of understanding the PE needs of the study subjects (Clark, 2004a: 1). The modern secondary school level child or the young individual needs to be heard. Once these concerns are openly “voiced” through the Mosaic approach (Clark and Moss, 2001,2005) these can be recorded, analyzed and responded to decide how gender inclusion can officially be brought to an end in the UK education sector.


Finally the use of technology might have reduced some of the barriers and issues involved in studying and observing young children with the increase in the availability of audio-visual technologies. The PE behaviors and attitudes once observed in isolation can perhaps give a better review of the outcome of the NCPE almost a decade later. Such an approach can allow the children to interact with pictures, visual and voices even in the absence of a “human” presence and are observed in solace. The use of such visual or multi-sensory methodologies has also been stressed upon by Lancaster (2003) who has suggested the use of film and video media by modern research on gender inclusion as a means of letting them have autonomy over what they learn in PE education. According to Carr (2001) learning stories and narratives of critical reflection can also allow the youngsters a fair chance at communicating their personal preferences and views on gender inclusions. Indeed this approach can change our mental conditioning and traditional constructions about PE. The use of internet and digital technologies and the immense possibilities of interaction offered by the same can allow the young children to review and discuss images and “words” with adult human teachers and to reflect upon the learning gender inclusion themes more rapidly.


Based on the observations above, the author while neither rejecting or accepting any positivity arising from the NCPE, believes that it is our societal attitudes that need to be observed and changed for any studies after 2011 The technique of studying children in order to facilitate their PE learning experiences has changed a lot in the past many years through the NIKE and Ofsted survey. But times have changed a decade later and the child in such studies now is a willing and conscious participant and a very much capable individual with his or her own views. A decade later after the NCPE we might see that in any study about gender inclusion we might see how technologies have changed the face of interaction and observation and basically how the “disinterested” observer approach is no longer a productive approach in assessing juvenile behaviour due to the possibility of inaccuracies and misconceptions it might promote. There is a need to ask the children directly what they feel and experience before any perceived changed in the NCPE are further contemplated.


Action Plan To Promote gender inclusion in UK secondary school systems


The plan suggests that since the current state of the problem of Gender Exclusion is a burden on the secondary education system. Following the NCPE plan the government should plan to take actions to the following effects.


  • Taking steps to encourage the parents to promote healthier attitudes.
  • Increase the monitoring of the current PE Scholl facilities and their accessibility to both male and female youngsters
  • Controlling the advertising of sexist imagery of PE advertising to change societal beliefs
  • Promoting physical activity in schools as part of the curriculum equally for both parts of the population
  • Encouraging parents of both genders to intervene in the prevention of the sedentary lifestyles of their wards and to make it a matter of health and not gender as to what sport their child uses
  • Providing for compulsory reviews and checks of children by the Area Health Facilities in the monitoring of their recommended daily PE activities
  • Under the Nape’s basic criteria to encourage programmers to improve and boost positive self-esteem amongst female youngsters as well as the improvement in the current goals of local planning authorities for PE in terms of the maintenance and monitoring of the local school facilities,
  • Sharing information and the collection and analysis of all relevant data in order to report upon the work progress and analysis that works in terms of current PE practices in the educational facilities
  • The Author suggests the use of tools of advertisement and social marketing as the means to changing the young UK populations gendered perception of imagery and sexual constructs.
  • Changing communal goals and policies towards allowing young female children to take up football etc.
  • Using means of early intervention and prevention to help children have a healthy behaviour with the opposite sex and to encourage play
  • Working with local NGO’s, government bodies and partnerships to ensure that the need of dealing with the issue of tackling Gender Exclusion
  • Dealing with religious objections for mixed sex PE and to allow segregation for such children only.


Action Plan

In line with the above the Action plan proposed below by the author aims to further collaborate in research and surveys with a wide range of gender exclusion and education professionals and to utilize their expert opinions .The advice of NGO’s and external agencies to ascertain the final guidelines prior to the implementation of the plan would also be very effective.


Checklist for available factors before final implementation

  1. a) Skilled Gender Exclusion professional attendants
  2. b) High availability of PE monitoring facilities
  3. c) Financial implication/cost of services
  4. d) Policy guideline
  5. e) Referral system
  6. f) Accountability
  7. g) Professional dieticians
  8. h) Availability of counseling for young male and female
  9. i) Gender Exclusion issues coming from culture
  10. j) Community based interventions
  11. k) Referral system
  12. l) Legislation and policy


 Main considerations in terms of policy implementation:

o   Feasibility

o   Sustainability

o   Acceptability

o   Attainability

o   Managerial capacity/expertise

o   Resource implications (this is a matter for the government at the local level however)


Goals and Strategies: The Stewardship Model.

  • The programme will after final consultations focus on female children who live in deprived areas with low standards of living as they are the most affected by gender exclusion
  • The aim will be engage both genders in healthy activities even if they are not the same
  • Establishing local mixed sex school sports teams
  • Provision of community garden/allotment schemes for school children mixed sex PE
  • Encouraging mixed cycling and sports in Schools
  • Setting up of free mixed sex exercise groups, organized long walks
  • Training young practitioners to advise and to work effectively with parents and families in working with mix sex PE initiatives.




Reflective report


The fundamental reason for choosing this topic was that having searched literature I found that very few works had been conducted with regards to young persons and sports in terms of gender exclusion. I personally feel attached to this subject due to my penchant and curiosity for how PE can be used to develop healthier gender relations. I was brought up with this passion towards PE and coupled with my compassion and concern for the gender-based exclusions in our educational system, the whole problem has now encouraged me to do a complete study in the subject in order to contribute to the existing knowledge about this subject by adding a new point of view.


One limitation to my study, which became obvious to me during my research, was the lack of time. Initially I wanted to follow a hybrid approach in data collection, which would include interviews and questionnaires. However later on due to time and money constraints I felt that collecting data through only one of these methods (surveys) while analyzing and tabulating would be more feasible. I still feel that this area needs a more detailed government funded study as suggested in the main paper. Such a study should directly address the children and not make assumptions about their capabilities based on their gender. I also found it very challenging to gain access to the relevant information required as. This project was challenging for me and I had to read a lot before hoping to gain the necessary acumen in the arena of strategic planning, for the benefits of the young excluded female students.



Essentially I feel that this dissertation allowed me to utilize and emphasize upon strategic thinking and creativity in terms of methods. In terms of my research strategy I have always believed that slightly enhanced internet research to will get me to the places I want to go, especially when I have been able to gain insights from online management reports and journals for my own personal education before I commence upon a path for research.

 In reflection I will say that intrinsic motivation is more rewarding for me in any academic endeavor as I get an inner satisfaction from work .I believe my work will contribute to the current studies about combating gender exclusion in Britain.





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[1] The Gender Equality Duty and Schools: Guidance for Public Authorities in England (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2007).


[2] See also the Gender Equality Scheme for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) & the Single Equality Scheme and Delivery Plan