Physical education since 1945

Games were made compulsory in state schools in 1944 even though they had been a very important aspect of private schooling for years (Holt, 1989). PE around the 1960s consisted mainly of team games. These games were often taught by non-specialists, this was especially the case for the boys’ games programme. At this point out of school games or extra curricular school sport was a major part of the physical education programme (Anthony, 1980). An assessment for the selections of school teams was often a job undertaken by the PE staff.

The pupils selected for these teams would be the best players in the school as seen by the PE staff. This was an opportunity where the PE teachers could make a name for themselves and gain prestige from their peers by picking winning teams. Often the prestige of the school came before attempting to give all pupils a game (Carroll, 1994). As can be seen so far PE had already made some big changes. It had transformed itself from the rough games and character building of Arnold’s Rugby School to militaristic drill taken by sergeants to aesthetic gymnastics and movement to the scientisation of the male taught Olympic gymnastics.

Once again though PE has returned through this chronological order to the team games that were prevalent back in the 1800s, however, here it was to promote the status of the PE teachers and help them to create a name for themselves within the schools. In 1965 a Sports Council was set up to advise the government on future policy on sport and PE. This was a unique step and came from the advice of the Wolfenden committee, which reported in 1960 on ‘sport and the community’ (Holt, 1989). Sir John Wolfenden chaired this committee and David Munrow was one of its members and also the Director of PE at Birmingham University.

This committee was formed to examine the general position of sport in Britain and to recommend any action that they think should be taken (Anthony, 1980). Between the late 1970s and early 1980s PE was lacking in educational significance. PE teachers were regarded as having a low status that they were good for talk about the weekend’s sporting events but they did not teach a very educational subject (McGowan, 1993). Musgrove and Taylor (1969) suggested that practical subjects had always been regarded as low status. PE had been linked with subjects such as Music, Drama and Art in the section of the curriculum known as the ‘expressive arts’.

This convenient label was based on the fact that creativity was an aspect of these subjects. There were various educational ideologies around during this time. Some of which suggested that the main thrust of the curriculum was recreational with the emphasis on games and education for leisure. There was an awful lot of emphasis on playing the game and not a lot of specific teaching going on at that time. PE had become categorized as a subject with a lack of formal assessment. Assessments up to the mid 1970s had often relied on fleeting evidence and a reliance on general impressions, with a lack of specific criteria and specific observation.

Therefore as a result assessment was never seen as an important issue in PE, any thought given to the purposes, issues and problems surrounding PE non-existent. Assessments were in the form of school reports, generally for the pupils and parents to ascertain the levels of their achievements so far. These reports were often vague, hurried and did not have much consideration given to them by teachers (Carroll, 1994). A move towards certification in PE would provide a sound curriculum and forms of assessment and examination (Carroll, 1994).

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