Incompatible? Compulsory mixed-sex Physical Education Initial Teacher Training (PEITT) and the inclusion of Muslim women: a case-study on seeking solutions

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The paper addresses the tensions between Islamic requirements and state provision in physical education initial teacher training (PEITT). Physical education has a firm place in teacher training in England because of its status as a National Curriculum foundation subject which guarantees entitlement for all children. The recruitment and retention of ethnic minority teachers has been a National concern for many years and yet it remains an under-researched area. Rising numbers of young Muslims, the majority of whom are of South Asian heritage, led to initiatives for attracting more trainees from this group into higher education. In England, the century old provision of single-sex specialist physical education secondary training (for 11 – 18 year- olds) finally disappeared by the mid 1980s. Primary PEITT (for 5 – 11 year-olds) has traditionally been organised in mixed-sex groups. Therefore the current higher education training system for intending teachers provides only compulsory mixed-sex provision in PEITT at every level. The authors argue that the current situation excludes Muslim women who wish to enter the teaching profession and adhere to Islamic requirements. They recount a case study in one University that tracks policy development to make single-sex physical education available to Muslim women on a traditionally mixed-sex primary course.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-200
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006