Gender, Culture and the Generation Gap: Student and Teacher Perceptions of Aspects of National Curriculum Physical Education

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper focuses upon the physical education experiences of girls in Key Stages 3 and 4, drawing upon data from a qualitative study based in three contrasting secondary comprehensive schools in England. We suggest that stereotypical assumptions about the physical activity interests of particular ethnic groups and about girls in general represent an oversimplification of complex issues. We discuss the intersection of race and gender within the experiences of a subsample of pupils and conclude that several issues commonly raised from the perspective of pupil culture are, equally, gender issues relevant to some girls from all ethnic groups. We suggest that diversity within particular cultural groups tends to be underestimated and that a physical education curriculum which purports to support inclusion should address this important issue. Finally, we suggest that inconsistencies and conflicts between teacher and student views, while reflecting the significant changes in attitudes towards gender issues which have characterised educational practice since the 1970s, currently limit opportunities for girls from all ethnic groups in some schools.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalSport Education and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001