European Physical Education Review
School of Education
© The Author(s) 2020. Internationally, patterns of participation in sport are changing, with so-called ‘informal’ participation displacing club-based and other formally structured involvement in sport. This paper reports research that is investigating changing forms of participation from an educational perspective. It directs attention to what physical education can learn from informal sport and how physical education can align pedagogically with contemporary participation trends, to help grow and sustain young people’s engagement in sport beyond schools. The paper presents findings from two sequential elements of an ongoing research project. The first is a systematic review of literature pertaining to informal participation that examined the skills, knowledge and understanding central to participation that occurs outside of traditional sport structures. Findings from this review highlight that social skills, cultural understandings, and knowledge relating to environment, alongside movement skills, are important in enabling participants to become engaged in, and maintain their involvement in, informal participation. The second element of the research involved documentary analysis to examine the alignment of contemporary curricula, and specifically, the Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education (AC HPE), with the learning identified as important for informal participation. Findings illustrate clear opportunities for the AC HPE to bring to the fore knowledge, skills and understandings that may extend young people’s engagement with informal participation through their lives. The discussion addresses key issues for policy makers, teachers and teacher educators to consider in the light of this research, if they are to leverage the opportunities for teaching and learning that informal sport presents.
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