Physical Education – Promoting Sport Participation in School and Beyond

Globalisation and the commodification of sport as a product and as a business begs the question – is sport in contemporary society as significant as it has been for previous generations? A functional response sees claims that of course, “sport builds character”, “playing sport is good for our health”, or “sport builds team skills”. Many people take a narrow ideological stance claiming that PE should engage children in sporting activities, which in turn will make them fit and healthy. While this is problematic on a number of fronts – for example the limited amount of time allocated to PE in the school curriculum – PE is far more sophisticated than merely a site for physical activity accumulation. While claimed benefits to personal character formation and broader sociological assumptions about sport’s contributions are emotively appealing and often promoted through media and popular culture, becoming part of our culture vocabulary, the statements rarely hold up to critical scrutiny.

Sport does however play a significant role in contemporary society. Its influence exists in three areas: 1) Elite sport; 2) Community sport; and 3) School sport (including physical education). I have argued elsewhere that sport is a movement context capable of providing an educational justification for physical education in schools as it is capable of meeting two broad purposes of school – initiation into important bodies of knowledge and the guiding of individuals development as a functioning contributing member of society. The significance of an educational justification in schools has never been more important given global trends towards declining physical activity levels and at the same time concerns about the status of physical education and suggestions of the marginalisation of PE in curriculum time in many parts of the world and scepticism about the subjects’ future with provision of PE in many countries far from assured (Marshall & Hardman, 2000; Hardman, 2005; 2008; Marshall & Hardman, 2008; Hardman et al., 2013).

Sport has been variously suggested as integral to the meaning of PE, a major orientating discourse (Tinning et al. 2001) providing a justification and a legitimating curriculum feature for PE (Williams 1985 cited in Bailey & Kirk 2009, p. 3). Moreover, different sporting activities can contribute to the learning process, and enable participation in a broader spectrum of sport (Bailey 2005). This is significant for the development of the child and participation in physical activity through orientated learning beyond the school years. This learning process, however, is not an imbedded ‘automatic’ or a ‘taken for granted’ outcome that can be attributed to sporting experiences within PE, or the school setting more broadly (such as lunchtime sports competitions and school sport programs). PE, however, has often been used in ways that are inconsistent with an education framing. For example, Tinning et al. cite the use of PE in primary schools “as either a cathartic or “kick-start” for the day’s academic work, rather than as a worthwhile educational experience in itself”’ (1993, p. 9). Indeed a common perception for many people is that school PE provides the capacity to ‘blow away the cobwebs’, a ‘brain break’ or ‘energiser’ to allow the ‘real work’ occurring in other subjects to begin. I argue PE’s educative purpose is a matter of curriculum design and pedagogical emphasis.

Remaining true to Arnold’s (1979) definition of learning in physical education, sport teaching and learning I argue PE curriculum design and pedagogy can create a context for:

  • Learning in sport – sport skill acquisition enabling an individual to be able to move and make tactical decisions efficiently and effectively in game situations
  • Learning about sport – recognising that sport is structured in certain ways to bring about certain things and
  • Learning through sport – understanding the embodied experience of sport.

The vision for sport teaching and learning I promote is the functional use of sport knowledge for active and engaged citizenship (Pill, 2009, 2011, 2015). Known as sport literacy, four distinct understandings of knowledge are considered in the construction of sport within PE:

  • Sport is an applied, practised and situated set of skills
  • Sport creates embodied meaning, and meaning that can be communicated, interpreted, understood, imaged and used creatively
  • Sport creates a ‘text’, which can be read for understanding
  • Understanding sport requires a learning process

(Pill, 2009, 2011, 2015).

My explanation of sport literacy presents sport as a physical, cultural, personal, social and cognitive experience for the demonstration of the acquisition and use of knowledge. It has two themes for the PE curriculum:

  1. Sport in PE can enhance students access to practices and ideas that can enable them to make positive contributions to society; and
  2. Sport helps students to understand the self and the society in which they live.

There are examples of sport in PE constructed to promote participation in and beyond school that I argue are explicit in their intent to develop what I have described as the understanding of knowledge behind sport literacy and its two themes for strengths-based and educatively justifiable PE. The Sport Education curriculum model (Siedentop 1994; Siedentop et al. 2004, 2011) is one such example. The Sport for Peace curriculum model (Ennis, Solon, Loftus, Mensch & McCauley, 1999) and Positive Youth Development through sport model emphasising the five “C’s” of positive development – competence, confidence, character, connections and compassion/caring, are others.


Assessment in Invasion Games: Part One – An Introduction

Nathan Horne

Team sports have traditionally made up a large part of any physical education program. Sports like basketball, football (soccer, American, Australian, Gaelic), handball, rugby and hockey are favourites in gymnasiums and on fields worldwide. All of these sports fall under the category of Invasion Games, where players try to maintain possession of an object, keeping it away from their opponents to move into a scoring position.

Students typically love playing these sports, or versions of them, and teachers find them easy to set up and run within their lessons. It is also generally easy to see who the “strongest” (scores all the points) and “weakest” (doesn’t touch the ball) players are within this context. The problem is that often this is as physical education teachers we constantly make observations about who the “strongest” players are and who is finding it difficult, but theses observations are more often that not just assumptions.

Flinders University Associate Professor, and my good friend, Shane Pill has suggested that  “assessment of games and sport in physical education has often not been authentic.” and that “assumptions should be authenticated with authentic evidence of student learning.”  Every time that we make an assumption that Student X is the “best player” so they must have the best tactical knowledge and understanding of the game we are reinforcing this inauthentic assessment.

In their book, Doherty & Brennan argue that physical education has traditionally been a relatively “data-poor” environment because of an absence of effective strategies to capture what learning has taken place. Brown & Hopper also suggest that as physical educators, too often we attempt to measure pyschomotor competence in games units through skill tests, and we create contexts that mitigate against student success no matter how much effort they exert. By using simple skill test reliant assessments & observation rubrics implemented at the end of a unit we are failing to authentically assess student performance.

The nature of Invasion Games, like basketball, football and hockey, is such that participants are engaged in a constantly changing environment, continually requiring planning and effective problem solving. How do you account for this constantly chaotic environment? How do you implement an assessment when every single time you observe it is going to look different?

I believe the key lies in looking for very specific indicators of success within a given game which will always be present, no matter how chaotic the game looks.

From Research to Practice: An assessment journey

This post is the first in a series of blog posts available at detailing how I aimed to use proven physical education research to change the way I assessed student learning in invasion games. In the six part series I explain in detail the research, assessment tools, learning activities and finally look at the data that I collected to help me get a more authentic picture of student learning during my invasion games unit.

At the upcoming APPEC Conference in Hong Kong, I will be presenting a workshop on Assessment in Invasion Games where I will be sharing the assessment tools and giving participants a chance to use them in action.

What does it mean for Pedagogy to think like a Game-Developer?

Physical education teachers and sport coaches are challenged with making sport – something that is challenging to master and takes a long time to learn to a degree of competency yet alone mastery, an enjoyable experience so that children, youth and adults are motivated to participate in games and sport as part of their physical activity accumulation. This is the same participatory challenge face by designers of digital games. I therefore argue that digital game designers and physical education teachers and sport coaches as movement and game designers face the same participatory challenge. The continued rise in digital game participation while at the same time we see decreasing participation in active living recreation options leads me to ask – can sport coaches and PE teachers learn from the design principles adopted by digital game developers?

Read more

APPEC Keynotes Featured on 21CL Radio

Previous APPEC keynote Andy Vasily recently recorded a Podcast with Ted & Carolyn Temertzoglou you can check it out now:

We recommend you subscribe to Andys podcast for more weekly interviews with inspirational educators.

We’re back…. Register now video

If you attended APPEC 2015 you’ll want all your friends and colleagues at APPEC2016. Save the video below far and wide and, together lets make APPEC 2016 amazing!

Registration Open

APPEC 2016 will take place on 12 & 13 November 2016 at Hong Kong International School. In addition to the main two-day conference, there’s also an exciting range of separately priced pre-conference events taking place on 11 November at various locations around Hong Kong.  Here are some highlights of the event:

  1. Two day tickets AND one day tickets available for the first time this year!
  2. Separately priced selection of pre-conference events available
  3. Pre-Conference includes exciting leadership and one and two day “Leave No Trace” courses at Hong Kong Outward Bound as well as other pre-conferences including various fitness certifications coming soon.
  4. Discounts available for group registration
  5. The conference and pre-conference has been extended to include those involved in student wellness and athletic director’s.

Why not talk to your HOD or PD director today about the professional benefits of attending this exciting conference that focuses on learning!

Calling all International Schools!

Calling all International Schools! A 2016 Shipping Promotion YOU CAN’T MISS!!!

Gopher Sport is excited to announce an exciting and exclusive shipping promotion for 2016. Your school will be able to order all of your Pre-K, Middle School and High School Physical Education and Sports Equipment for a fraction of the shipping costs resulting in HUGE savings. Here’s the scoop!

  • All orders over $5000 will be eligible for a FLAT $500 fee!
  • Shipment terms are Delivered to Port, at the following cities:
    • Dubai
    • Abu Dhabi
    • Doha
    • Beijing
    • Shanghai
    • Bangkok
    • Singapore
    • Hong Kong Island
    • Kuwait city
    • Rotterdam
  • As always, the customer will be responsible for all taxes, import fees, clearance fees, etc associated with the order
  • Our logistics team is happy to provide contact information for custom import/clearance offices at the delivery ports and will work with you to make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork
  • Gopher MUST receive your Purchase Order by May 1, 2016
  • We will be consolidating orders into ocean containers throughout May
  • On June 1, 2016 the containers will leave our distribution center in Owatonna, MN
  • Orders will arrive at the nearest international port in August ready for the new school year!

In order to take advantage of this amazing shipping offer your schools orders must be over $5000. Remember that Gopher Sport provides a large variety of products so you should be able to order from us for multiple departments. Here is a quick overview!

  • Gopher – – K-12 PE and Recreational Sports Equipment
  • Gopher Performance – – Middle School, High School and College functional training and fitness equipment
  • Play with a Purpose – – Early Childhood Development games, play grounds, and educational resources
  • Moving Minds – – Classroom Seating, Desks and Tables

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this promotion or any of our products please feel free to reach out to me directly. You’ll find my contact information below. I look forward to working with you in 2016!



Kevin Brooke


APPEC School Tour Important Notes for Attendees

This is to confirm your registration for the School & Elite Sports Tour on Friday 13 November 2015.

The tour bus will be departing from the two conference hotels as per the conference schedule.

A few notes for your information:


This will leave on time. If you miss the bus, you can still join the tour but will need to catch up by Taxi at your own expense. If this is the case call Graeme on 9739-4776 to find out where to join the tour.

If you were to take a Taxi to the first school on the tour, these are directions for your driver

(In English)
King George V School,
2 Tin Kwong Rd
Ho Man Tin
Hong Kong

(In Cantonese)


The dress code for the day is casual, but we advise that you take a layered approach as the weather can change a lot at this time of year. Current weather forecast is for 22C to 25C throughout the day.

You will have the opportunity to Bounce at the end of the day on trampolines so depending on your energy level, you may wish to bring some lighter clothes for that activity.

Food and Drink

There will be coffee in the morning followed by the Elite Athlete lunch at HKSI, which will cover all key diet types. After the session at Bounce, drinks and snacks will follow.
We suggest you bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated. There will be opportunities to refill your bottle as the day progresses.

Post Trip

At the end of the Bounce Session the bus will take you back to to the conference hotels.

We hope you are as excited about the trip as we are and look forward to seeing you on the Schools and Elite Sports Tour.

Junk Trip Update

Information for Junk Trip Attendees:

We will be departing from Tai Tam Pier, conveniently located right next to the conference venue, and will then cruise around the Island finishing at Central Pier in Victoria Harbour.

A few notes for your information:

Boarding the Junks

At the end of the first day of the conference (Saturday), you will be asked to assemble at 18:00 at Middle School 5/F Garden – which is the social location – where we will do a quick roll-call. We will then make our way down together to the dock. If you are not at the dock when the Junk is scheduled to leave at around 18:20 the boat will not wait.

There are now two junks and we will be allocating Keynote Speakers and Sponsors to specific junks but otherwise the junks will be boarded by order of arrival at the dock. If you want to be with someone in particular then make sure you stick together. But also consider this as the perfect opportunity to meet new people!


The dress code for the event is casual, but we advise that you take a layered approach as the weather does get cooler in the evening and especially on the open water. Current weather forecast is for 22C to 25C throughout the day.

Food and Drink

There will be beer, wine and soft drinks as well as light snacks onboard the Junk.

Post Junk Trip

At the end of the Junk Trip you can either make your own way back to your hotel by taxi, bus, tram or MTR or perhaps party-on to enjoy HK nightlife. We are sure you will meet others on the Junk Trip who will be up for this.

We hope you are as excited about the trip as we are and look forward to seeing you on the Junk.

Final Note to Attendees

Note: All registered attendees should have received the message below with personalised registration links. Please look for this email, it is possible it arrived in SPAM.

We are just a few days away from the inaugural APPEC 2015 Conference and we are all looking forward to welcoming you to HKIS campus.

Here is important information to help ensure your conference goes smoothly.

Getting to Hong Kong International School

Conference Buses

These will leave from the conference hotels each day and you can find this information on the conference schedule.

Conference delegates who live in Hong Kong, or overseas delegates who are making alternative accommodation arrangements, are welcome to travel on the conference buses.

Bus / Taxi / Car

You can also get to the conference by Taxi or Public Bus. If you are a visitor to Hong Kong then your hotel concierge will be able to assist you with this.

If you are coming by car limited parking will be available on a first come first served basis.

Full details of how to get to HKIS are here at this link.

Very Important. The main conference is being held at the Tai Tam Campus and the best way to come in is through the High School entrance.

Accessing the Campus & Liability Waiver

You must provide details of some form of Photo ID that you can bring to the conference with you. This could be a national ID card, Staff ID card or driving licence for instance.

Remember to bring the same Photo ID document with you to the conference as HKIS is a secure campus.

You must also sign our liability waiver whether or not you intend to take part in any physical activity.

Online Schedule

The online workshop schedule is available here:

The schedule is available on mobile devices. Printed schedules will not be provided and conference participants are expected to access the schedule via their mobile devices.


If you are doing a JumpStart you will be guided to the JumpStart area by student ambassadors from the High School registration area. Please make sure you arrive early to ensure a smooth start to the day! Check the schedule if you need to check start times again. A bag drop zone will be provided for you to leave your day bag.

You can still sign up for some of the JumpStarts by accessing your registration link below.

Changing Your Registration

If you wish to make any changes to your registration you need to login to the registration system with your confirmation number and email address. One or two places are still available for some of the pre-conference events and tickets are still available for the Junk Trip on Saturday evening.

Dietary Requirements

There will be options for vegans and vegetarians; you can ask the catering staff if you have questions. All food is peanut free.

Water Bottle

Water is available across the campus but please remember to bring your own water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated.


Hong Kong can be chilly at this time of year depending on the weather (and the air conditioning!) so we recommend you adopt a layered clothing approach.

If you have registered for a JumpStart activity then make sure you have suitable gear with you. Showers will be available afterwards but you need to bring your own towel and toiletries. Bag storage will be provided while you are working out.

It is also worth noting that some of the workshop sessions have active component so you should also have gear that you can comfortably work out in depending on the sessions you are attending. Movement is encouraged but not compulsory!

If you are going on the Junk Trip on the Saturday evening then have something warm you can wear in case the temperature drops.

Living in HK or Getting to Conference Early?

Join us at a free party and session at Hong Kongs newest trampoline park: BounceHK! Transport provided

Signing up for sessions

There is no pre-registration for any sessions (aside from pre-conferences). You can “star” sessions on the Sched, which we encourage you to do. However, this is not required and does not guarantee your place. If there are workshops you are keen to attend we suggest you arrive early for that session.


No print outs from confirmation emails are required for your registration. When you arrive you will be directed to a registration desk based on surname.

PlayerLayer Gear

All registrants will receive a bag, hat and shirt. We will do our best to provide you the size you provided on the registration form but can’t guarantee sizes. This will be distributed at the Registration Desk.

Group Photo

We have arranged something quite special for the conference Group Photo and this will be taken on Saturday afternoon at around 16:20 after the final keynote for the day and before the social event. It would be fantastic if you could wear your PlayerLayer shirt for this to maximise the visual impact.

Appreciate it if you can ensure you have your PlayerLayer shirt available for this epic event!

Departing Hong Kong – Transport to Airport

There will be a bus direct to the airport from the conference after the closing ceremony on Sunday. You should checkout of your hotel and bring your bag to the conference on Sunday morning where a bag drop area will be available.

Any Questions?

Contact us on if you have any questions and we’ll get right back to you.


21st Century Learning Team