Comply or Fail: Primary School PE Subject Leaders and the PE and Sport Premium for Primary Schools

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Following a major funding restructuring of physical education and school sport (PESS) introduced by the 2010 coalition government, the School Sport Partnership (SSP) structure was removed and replaced by the School Games, as what was termed at the time a money saving, austerity measure. The government later introduced the primary school PE and sport premium funding which aimed to bypass a layer of bureaucracy as part of a wider austerity agenda. This study examined the implications of the restructuring of funding to primary PE subject leaders (PESL). Using a qualitative methodology, semi-structured interviews were completed with five PESLs working in primary schools within the South West region of England. Utilising a pragmatic ontological lens, it explored the link between the neoliberal ideology underpinning the policy and the implications for the practice of PESLs. Findings indicated that PESLs had to dedicate increased amounts of time to managing the primary PE and sport premium funding, adding to an already large workload. The policy introduction led to an increase in managerial, administrative and bureaucratic tasks, indicative of the rise of New Public Management (NPM) in wider educational and public sector contexts. It revealed a gap between the rhetoric of the government and the reality of implementing the policy. The PESLs felt that they had increased accountability and responsibility but with minimal influence over targets, and little centralised support. It was perceived that the increased workload, a lack of specialist expertise, a lack of centralised support and increased management of external providers from an unregulated market led to an increase in the exogenous privatisation of primary PESS where quality was inconsistent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport Policy and Politics: The Inequality Gap
Subtitle of host publicationThe Sport and Politics Study Group Annual Conference
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2017


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