"No change in a new era?" The impact of the Education Reform Act (1988) on the provision of physical education and sport in state schools.
University of Southampton, Department of Physical Education,
This thesis reports on research that explored the impact of the Education Reform Act (ERA) (1988) on the provision of Physical Education (PE) and sport in state schools within one Local Education Authority (LEA) in England. Specifically, it highlights the complexity of the development and 'implementation' of the National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE) and addresses the issues of power and control in the policy process.
Chapter 1 outlines the policies within the ERA and the issues arising from them for the provision of PE and sport in schools. Chapters 2 and 3 detail the theoretical and methodological bases of the research respectively. The former centres on policy analysis in education and specifically, the conceptualisation of policy 'as a process'. The latter presents research 'as a process' and addresses the role of a qualitative and ethnographic approach, the integration of theoretical, methodological and empirical issues, and the utilisation of both quantitative and qualitative methods in facilitating the enquiry and understanding of the NCPE as both 'policy' and 'practice'.
Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 address the policy process at different 'levels' in the education system, describing and analysing the role that central government and the NCPE working group (chapter 4), the LEA (chapter 5), schools and the PE departments and teachers within them (chapters 6 & 7) played in determining the 'effects' of the ERA on the future provision of PE and sport in schools and specifically, what constituted a NCPE in 'policy' and 'practice'. These chapters provide a comprehensive account of the emergence of the NCPE and its interaction with, in particular, the introduction of Local Management of Schools. A variety of data illustrates that in many respects, the introduction of a NCPE signalled 'no change' in PE.
In chapter 8 a revised theoretical framework, centring on the interaction of frames (Lundgren,1977i Bernstein, 1990) is presented as a basis for the development of further studies of education policy. In conclusion attention is drawn to methodological issues raised by the research and the need for further research to explore the implications of the observed absence of change in PE if a NCPE is to provide a 'broad and balanced' PE curriculum for all children.
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