Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy


Taylor and Francis


School of Education




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2020


Barwood, D., Spears, L. T., O’Hara, E., & Penney, D. (2021). Deconstructing health and physical education teacher education: a mapping and analysis of programme structure and content in Australia. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 26(4), 417-432.


Background: In Australia, Initial Teacher Education Institutions (ITEIs) provide undergraduate Health and Physical (HPE) programmes that meet a number of regulatory requirements, including those of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). In addition, ITEIs must also ensure programme alignment with state/territory-based jurisdictional requirements. While historically varied philosophies and practices have shaped HPE teacher education nationally, ITEIs are thus operating in an increasingly regulated environment.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report research that has critically examined the structure and content of ITEI undergraduate programmes in Australia that prepare teachers for HPE in secondary schools. Analysis at programme and unit levels was undertaken to explore programme variance, ITEI priorities and consideration of the implications that programme structure and content has for graduate secondary HPE teachers and their employers. The paper seeks to contribute to wider debates about the role of teacher education in shaping HPE curriculum futures and the challenges faced by ITEIs to navigate increasing government regulation.

Methods: An audit and document analysis of 15 Australian ITEIs identified programme structures and specific units of study for the preparation of secondary HPE teachers. These programme structures were compared to those of an ITEI in Western Australia (WA), similarly preparing secondary teachers of HPE, and undertaking internal programme renewal. The WA ITEI’s programme nomenclature and elements therefore provided the reference point for analysis of variation across programmes nationally.

Findings: Findings show that graduate secondary HPE teachers in Australia are variously prepared, with ITEI programme structures ranging in nomenclature, breadth of content, positioning of units and the amount and placement of school-based practicums. ITEIs variously meet state, territory and federal accountability and accreditation requirements in preparing secondary HPE teachers. Programme variations may mean that graduate secondary HPE teachers have differing perspectives on HPE curriculum and pedagogy. Schools employing graduate teachers cannot assume all graduate teachers have a common outlook on or backgrounds in HPE, while meeting the graduate standards.

Conclusions: The significant variation between programme structure and content at the 15 ITEIs preparing teachers for HPE in secondary schools indicates that in a heavily regulated sector, ITEIs in Australia remain critical players in shaping HPE practices across Australian schools. Further research is needed to appropriately ascertain the impact of ITEI programme variation on HPE teachers’ values and professional practice.



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.