Becoming a Primary Physical Educator
: Sourcing professional knowledge and confidence

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Despite a number of reforms to education, concern over teachers’ knowledge and confidence to teach physical education persists. This thesis examines the process of becoming a primary physical educator at the initial stage of a teacher’s career. The aim of which is to consider the ways beginning teachers source their professional knowledge and the implications this has on their confidence to teach. The study argues for a clear articulation of the subject’s knowledge-base and proposes a framework for the development of knowledge in primary physical education initial teacher education. Participants were drawn from a range of providers in England and were in the final year of their programme. The research adopted a mixed method approach using an online survey to obtain quantitative data and interviews to elicit constructs about beliefs from four case-study participants. The study identified that beginning teachers had perceived high levels of confidence across the subject’s knowledge-base, but areas of most and least confidence were varied and personal to the individual. The sourcing of knowledge was mainly drawn from school and university settings, but in many cases personal interests and prior experiences formed a central role in sourcing content knowledge when no opportunity was presented. Despite the varying routes that exist to become a primary physical educator, this research argues that all beginning teachers require a breadth of knowledge during initial teacher preparation, with university and school partnerships offering explicit roles in developing professional knowledge to a secure level. It further argues that it is through a focus on individual teacher transformation, not merely reflection that will ensure inherent challenges faced by primary physical education will be addressed.
Date of Award21 Oct 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester


  • primary physical education
  • initial teacher education
  • teacher knowledge

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