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Durham e-Theses
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Bridging the gap: A qualitative study of pupils PE
experiences and practices across the primary to
secondary school transition

ARMSTRONG, JOE (2021) Bridging the gap: A qualitative study of pupils PE
experiences and practices across the primary to
secondary school transition.
Masters thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


The transition between primary and secondary school represents a significant step in the educational
journey pupils’ take, marking a period in which friendships can be altered, specialist subject teachers
are introduced and new standards are set; all of which are issues that can be exacerbated within PE.
This thesis explores pupils’ experiences of the primary to secondary transition in PE, seeking to identify
transitional issues affecting their engagement with the subject. Perspectives of teaching staff and
external coaches are also investigated to recognise existing transitional practice in schools and
potential areas of disconnect with pupils. An online survey was used to explore pupils’ transitional
experiences in PE, followed by four online interviews with secondary PE teachers and School Sport
Partnership coaches. Data collected informs a series of practical recommendations designed to
improve pupils’ transitional experiences within PE. Whilst previous studies exploring transitional
issues have been well-documented, few have sought to offer recommendations focused specifically
on improving the transition in PE and pupil’s engagement with it.
The work of Galton, Gray and Ruddock (1999), outlining five bridges of transition, provided a
framework to examine the transition, whilst Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field and capital are used
to explore the experiences of pupils’ and staff. Thematic analysis of data collected allowed for findings
to be separated into three areas: the importance of relationships in PE across the transition, physical
considerations of competency, capability and fitness, as well as existing good transitional practice in
schools. Findings suggest that, whilst there are a multitude of different factors influencing pupils’ PE
engagement, it is the aforementioned areas that are pupils’ primary concern around the transition in
PE that recommendations should seek to address. Acknowledging the wide-ranging nature of
recommendations made to address multiple bridges of transition, future research should aim to
investigate the effectiveness of these in practice.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sport and Exercise Sciences, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jul 2021 09:48

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