Co-creating a preparatory policy engagement programme for quality physical education – Dr. Jenna r. lorusso.

Physical education, when provided in a quality form, can develop healthy, active, and engaged citizens who form the basis of sustainable development (UNESCO, 2021).

However, the potential of quality physical education is not currently being fully realized in many schools and universities around the world (MacPhail & Lawson, 2020). Several factors are implicated, with sub-optimal policies and policy configurations identified as critical factors given that policies influence virtually all aspects of physical education realities (e.g., curriculum content, teacher standards, instructional practices, student outcomes; UNESCO, 2014). The critical need for all physical education stakeholders (e.g., teachers, teacher educators, professional development providers, professional association directors) to prioritize attention to and action on physical education policy to improve quality provision has been articulated in a suite of recent international policy documents by numerous international organizations (UNESCO, 2021). Despite this, many physical education stakeholders receive little, or no, preparation on how to engage with policy, be it related to development, advocacy, or enactment (Scanlon et al., 2022). Furthermore, there is little research on what such preparation should entail. The consequences of this lack of policy preparation, and ultimately policy neglect, are serious. Experts have warned that, given threats to the status of physical education in many countries, continued failure to engage adequately with policy may put the future of physical education, and its contributions to students’ wellbeing, at risk (Lorusso & Richards, 2018).

Addressing the significant and urgent need to build physical education stakeholders’ capacity to engage in policy efforts such that the quality of physical education is enhanced, and important student outcomes achieved is the focus of Dr. Jenna Lorusso’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellowship, conducted in partnership with Associate Vice President Doctoral College and PESS Professor Ann MacPhail. Specifically, the objectives of this research include: (a) identifying key facilitators, barriers, and content in the development of policy capacity; (b) translating complicated policy processes into practical policy lessons; and (c) developing a preparatory policy engagement programme for quality physical education (PEP-4-QPE) that is evidence-based, internationally applicable, and openly available as an Open Educational Resource. To do so, this research is engaging international physical education stakeholders in co-design, co-creation, and co-assessment citizen science via the methods of a modified e-Delphi approach, participatory research, and case study. The intention is that the practical nature of these findings can be used to inform the development of further evidence-based policy preparation initiatives in initial teacher education, continuing professional development, and graduate education within physical education, education, and other public sector arenas.

This project is funded by the European Union.


Lorusso, J. R., & Richards, K. A. R. (2018). Expert perspectives on the future of physical education in higher education. Quest, 70(1), 114-136.

MacPhail, A. & Lawson, H. A. (2020). Grand challenges as catalysts for the collaborative redesign of physical education, teacher education, and research and development. In A. MacPhail & H. A. Lawson (Eds.) School physical education and teacher education: Collaborative redesign for the 21st Century. Routledge.

Scanlon, D., Alfrey, L., Lorusso, J. R., Aldous, D., MacPhail, A., Baker, K, Clark, C., & Jafar, M. (November 2022). Policy and policy work in Health and/Physical Education: Conceptualisations and practices. Paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education.

UNESCO. (2021). Making the case for inclusive quality physical education policy development: A policy brief.

UNESCO. (2014). World-wide survey of school physical education.

If you liked this blog, you might also be interested in:

Lorusso, J. R., Scanlon, D., MacPhail, A., Hargreaves, S., Storey, M., & Dabbagh, L. (2022). Shifting policy perspectives: Revelatory incident narratives from physical education stakeholders. Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education, 13(3), 284-297.

Morrison, H. J., & Lorusso, J. R. (2023). Developing Teacher Candidates’ Professional Advocacy Skills Through Persuasive Storytelling. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 94(1), 6-11.

Scanlon, D., MacPhail, A., & Calderón, A. (2022). A figurational viewpoint of the complexity of policy enactment: An opportunity for agonistic dialogue?. The Curriculum Journal.

Scanlon, D., MacPhail, A., & Calderón, A. (2022). A figurational analysis of teachers and students as policy actors in policy enactment:‘Integrated Learning Experiences’ in examinable physical education curriculum. European Physical Education Review.

Dr. Jenna R. Lorusso is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Research Fellow in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick.   

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