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Optimising Practice in Physical Education


Researchers in this theme deliver research and consultancy on teaching methods and behaviours that optimise learning in physical education. The group provide evidence-based suggestions to enhance the delivery of key aspects of physical education, such as, the development of fundamental movement skills and physical activity levels.  Strategies for the optimisation of teaching aspects of curriculum-based PE and methods for recognising and monitoring best practice are also examined. Our research is multi-disciplinary with expertise in pedagogical practice at primary and secondary levels; evaluating the impact of ITT programmes; inclusion; reflective practice; teaching behaviours and the role of schools in children's health.

Children’s experiences of health and wellbeing

Sport and physical activity has long been considered to be a powerful factor in promoting childhood health and well-being. Our researchers are interested in how and when physical activity, sport and physical education experiences can promote such well-being changes and how we can better promote health and well-being through physical activity.

Two key strands can be seen in our research activity. First, we examine the factors that influence a child’s experience of physical activity (whether through formal coaching, teaching or play). In particular we examine how sociocultural factors (class, power dynamics, culture) shape the experience and impact of being physical active. In this line of research, we are particularly keen on exploring research methods (e.g., drawing, photography) that allow us to more fully access the child’s voice and subjective experiences. Second, our research examines the potential short and long-term health benefits of physical activity in children. In this strand, we have explored the efficacy of schemes such as the daily mile on physical activity participation, attitudes to physical activity and physical fitness. We have also evaluated exercise schemes designed to promote activity within obese populations.

Interested in finding out more about this research area or getting involved in our research projects? Please email Suzanne Everley (

Key Publications

Everley, S. (In press) ‘Physical Literacy and the development of Girls’ Leadership: An Evaluation of the FA’s Active Literacy Through Storytelling Programme’ Education 3-13.

Everley, S. (2019 ) ‘Using visual research tools when working tools with children in a primary school setting’, Chapter 5, pp55-70,  in Researching Difference in Sport and Physical Activity,  Medcalfe, R. and Mackintosh, C. (Eds) Routledge.

Everley, S. (2020) The Child Protection in Sport Unit - Supporting National Governing Bodies in Hearing the Voices of Children: An Evaluation of Current Practice. Child Abuse Review, 29 (2). 114-129. ISSN 0952-9136

Everley, S. (2019) ‘Understanding Gendered Physical Activity of Children: Challenging binaried representation in school based research’  Education 3-13, 48:2,  226-238.

Everley, S. and Everley, K. (2018) Primary School Children’s Experiences of Physical Activity: The place of social and cultural capital in participation and implications for schools’  Early Childhood Development and Care  189:2, 2032-2042

Everley, S and Macfadyen, T (2015) ‘I like playing on my trampoline; it makes me feel alive’ : Valuing Physical Activity: Perceptions and Meanings for Children and Implications for Primary Schools’ Education 3-13,  45:2. 1-25. DOI10.1080/03004279.2015.1069367

Sims, J., Scarborough, P. and Foster, C. (2015) ‘The effectiveness of interventions on sustained childhood physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies’ PLoS ONE e0132935

Publications in Conference Proceedings:

Everley, S. and Potter, J. (2016) ‘’Do 'Sporting' Agendas Limit Primary School Aged Girls' Physical Activity?’ Special Issue: Abstracts of the 13th International Congress on Obesity, 17:2  1-248

Everley, S. and Potter, J. (2016) ‘Primary School Aged Boys And Physical Activity In School Environments: Subjective Experiences And The Place Of 'Sport' In Social Identity’, Special Issue: Abstracts of the 13th International Congress on Obesity, 17:2. 1-248

Potter, J and Everley, S (2015) ‘Participation in Physical Activity and PE In UK Primary Schools’ in Obesity Facts, The European Journal of Obesity 8:1  1-272

Conference presentations

Everley, S.C and Everley, K (2017) ‘Children’s experiences of physical activity: implications for primary schools’, Presented to the British Educational Research Association’s Annual Conference, University of Sussex, Nominated for an Award for Best Paper within the PE and Sport Pedagogy SIG.

Gault, M.L., Potter, J., Lauder M. (2018). Effects of the daily mile on measure of physical fitness in 9-10 year olds.European College of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference. Dublin, Ireland.

Lauder, M., Potter, J., Gault, M.L. (2018). The intra-reliability of a physical fitness test battery in 9-10 year olds. European College of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference. Dublin, Ireland.

Potter, Gault, M.L., Lauder M. (2018). The impact of running a mile-a-day in school on attitudes to physical activity. European Congress on Obesity.

Key Staff