Promoting physical activity in secondary schools: growing expectations, 'same old' issues?

There are growing expectations on schools to promote health and physical activity and helping schools to effectively do so is considered a priority. This paper reports on selected findings from a research project that was concerned with supporting secondary schools in the effective promotion of physical activity and establishing their needs in this regard. Specifically, the paper explores secondary school teachers’ experiences of and perspectives on promoting physical activity. The study involved an online survey with secondary schools across the United Kingdom, plus interviews with teachers from eight schools from different regions in England. The findings highlighted a number of issues concerning the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles generally, many of which seem to be long-standing. For example, issues associated with the status and place of health, the amount and nature of the training and support provided or accessed by teachers in the area, and schools’ effectiveness in promoting and engaging all pupils in healthy, active lifestyles were identified. These findings led to questions regarding the extent to which teachers are adequately and appropriately equipped to effectively promote physical activity and to recommendations to improve the support for and practice of schools in this area.