Heretofore, arguments surrounding contemporary definitions of PE frequently advocate a contested mix of health, sport and social justice priorities. The future of PE undoubtedly needs to see change over the next ten years but it is of which agenda that is disputed. The view of Kirk (2010) is that PE has three possible futures; the first is more of the same and slow decline, the second involves radical change and become relevant to societal needs and lastly, it will become extinct. (Kirk, 2010) He also argues that there is nothing necessary wrong with PE as a subject but with schools in general as they are too industrialised, like a factory.
In 2000, Penney and Chandler stressed that there is not only one possible future for physical education. It is for all within the profession to address and debate what the futures should be and to ensure that policy and curriculum developments then reflect the visions established, and facilitate their realisation. (p.85)
In contrast, Penney and Jess (2004) question if PE is supposed to tackle the varying issues such as providing improvements in physical activity levels in children and adults, in obesity rates, in rankings in international sporting arenas and in drug and alcohol-related health and crime statistics? Instead, they argue for a focus on ‘one possible future; concerned first and foremost with provision for active lives. (p. 270)
Penney (2008) contends that Health and Physical Education (HPE) professionals need to be proactive in establishing and pursuing their authority to speak contemporary education discourses and furthermore, that doing so is critical for the future of the learning area. In order to restore and transform the HPE policy space, professionals need to have the energy and insight to ‘drive’ policy development in particular directions. (p. 45) Introducing a responsibility to lifelong learning, encouraging pupils to become lifelong learners, providing them with opportunities to develop ‘life skills’, are key agendas for education internationally.
There are three new interventions we have seen in physical education over the last three decades; Teaching Games for Understand (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982) and Personal and Social Responsibility (Hellison, 1995). These identified agendas have particularly distinguished themselves as operational ideas which have generated high levels of professional engagement following initial theorising.
This broader perspective of nature of change informs Scottish core PE as it allows recognition of the evidence supporting the increased profile of PE – health vis. sport with familiar themes emerging throughout about emphasising the contribution of PE to fostering lifelong learning gains (Penney & Jess, 2004, Penney, 2008), personalised learning (Penney, 2008) and inclusion (Penney & Jess, 2004).
The Scottish Government’s target is that by 2014, every primary school pupil will receive at least two hours per week of PE and S1 to S4