Teachers’ and social educators’ role in promoting movement for the least physically active pupils

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A Danish school reform requires all pupils to have 45 minutes of daily physical activity. The aim is to enhance pupils’ health and learning and encourage the least physically active, because of an increasing disparity between the least and most physically active pupils. Studies show that 65% of Danish schools meet this requirement (Oxford Research, 2018), but it remains unclear whether the least physically active pupils are becoming more active. The specific organisation of daily movement for pupils is mainly the responsibility of teachers and social educators, as few schools have a strategic movement policy. Active participation and involvement by the teachers and social educators influence children’s movement in school (Nabe-Nielsen et al., 2005); however, teachers’ support for physical activity is greater for pupils who are already motivated than for those who are less motivated (Lander et al., 2017). This leads to the following research question: What possibilities and constraints are there for teachers and social educators to promote daily physical activity for the least physically active pupils? My overall methodological design is a multiple case study (Flyvbjerg, 2006) involving three schools in Aalborg, Denmark, which were selected based on the criterion of maximum variation. This paper is based on semi-structured qualitative interviews with 30 Year 3 pupils and 15 teachers and social educators in 2018 and participant observation of six classes in Years 3 during 4 weeks at each school in 2018. The empirical framework will be analysed using systematic combining (Dubois & Gadde, 2002), based on the sociologist Norbert Elias’ conceptualisation of figurations and social habitus (2000). Results and conclusions: The research is still ongoing, and the analysis is therefore preliminary. The pupils find that the teachers and social educators only support physical activity to a limited extent during the school day and in Physcial Education classes; conversely, participation by the adults motivates them to move more. The teaching staff find that the least physically active pupils are difficult to motivate, but how they deal with these pupils also depends on their own social habitus in relation to physical activity. From a figurative perspective, a future recommendation is for a greater focus on the attitudes of teaching staff to health-promoting measures in physical activity aimed at the least physically active pupils. The study is being funded by Aalborg Municipality and University College of Northern Denmark.
Translated title of the contributionLærere og pædagogers rolle for at fremme bevægelse for de mindst fysisk aktive elever i folkeskolen
Original languageEnglish
Publication date28 Aug 2019
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019
EventHEPA Europe 2019 - SDU, Odense, Denmark
Duration: 28 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


ConferenceHEPA Europe 2019


  • children and youth

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