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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 94, Issue 6, pp 448–452 | Cite as

Teachers’ Perspective on Barriers to Implementing Physical Activity Curriculum Guidelines for School Children in Toronto

  • John J. M. Dwyer
  • Barbara Hansen
  • Kenneth R. Allison
  • Ellie Goldenberg
  • Maru Barrera
  • Barbara Hansen
  • Marie A. Boutilier
Article

Abstract

Background

Teachers in Ontario are expected to implement the physical activity guidelines in the health and physical education (HPE) curriculum document that was introduced in 1998. This study examined Toronto teachers’ perspective on barriers to implementing these guidelines.

Methods

Forty-five teachers from five Toronto elementary schools in which generalist classroom teachers provide physical education classes participated in focus groups. An experienced moderator facilitated each session. Themes were inductively generated from the data.

Results

Participants reported that children were not engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity daily and for the expected duration. Participants identified three categories of barriers to implementing the curriculum guidelines: lower priority for HPE, lack of performance measures for physical activity, and lack of sufficient infrastructure. First, they reported that the new curriculum expectations for other subjects were demanding, which left little time to focus on physical education. They felt that resource support for the HPE curriculum was not sufficient and that physical education specialists were necessary but unavailable to implement the curriculum. Second, participants felt accountable to both government and parents for high student performance on standardized tests in subjects deemed to be of higher priority. Third, participants reported inadequate facilities and equipment, use of portables for classrooms, cancelling physical education to have events in the gymnasium, and unavailability of teachers to supervise off-school physical activity.

Conclusion

The study suggests that participating teachers perceive physical education to be a low priority in the educational system, making it difficult for them to meet the HPE curriculum expectations.

Résumé

Contexte

Les enseignants de l’Ontario sont tenus d’appliquer les lignes directrices sur l’activité physique contenues dans le document de programme sur la santé et l’éducation physique diffusé en 1998. Nous avons étudié le point de vue des enseignants de Toronto sur les obstacles à l’application de ces lignes directrices.

Méthode

Quarante-cinq enseignants de cinq écoles primaires de Toronto où les cours d’éducation physique sont donnés par des enseignants non spécialisés ont participé à des groupes d’entretien en profondeur. Chaque séance était facilitée par un animateur chevronné. Les thèmes des entretiens ont été inductivement tirés des données.

Résultats

Selon les participants, les enfants ne pratiquent pas chaque jour et pendant la durée prévue une activité physique modérée ou vigoureuse. Il y aurait trois types d’obstacles à l’application des lignes directrices au programme: la faible priorité accordée à la santé et à l’éducation physique, l’absence de mesures de rendement pour l’activité physique et le manque d’infrastructures. Premièrement, les participants ont déclaré que les attentes du nouveau programme dans les autres matières sont élevées, ce qui laisse peu de temps pour se concentrer sur l’éducation physique. À leur avis, les ressources à l’appui du programme de santé et d’éducation physique sont insuffisantes, et il faudrait des spécialistes en éducation physique (non disponibles à l’heure actuelle) pour appliquer le programme. Deuxièmement, les participants se sentent responsables, tant auprès du gouvernement que des parents, d’obtenir de bons résultats pour leurs élèves aux examens normalisés dans les matières jugées prioritaires. Troisièmement, les participants ont mentionné l’insuffisance des installations et du matériel, les classes préfabriquées, l’annulation de l’éducation physique lorsqu’on tient des assemblées dans le gymnase et l’absence d’enseignants pour superviser l’activité physique avant ou après l’école.

Conclusion

L’étude porte à croire que les enseignants participants perçoivent l’éducation physique comme étant non prioritaire dans le système éducatif, ce qui leur complique la tâche de répondre aux attentes du programme en matière de santé et d’éducation physique.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. M. Dwyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Barbara Hansen
    • 5
  • Kenneth R. Allison
    • 3
  • Ellie Goldenberg
    • 3
  • Maru Barrera
    • 4
  • Barbara Hansen
    • 5
  • Marie A. Boutilier
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, College of Social and Applied Human SciencesUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Program Policy and Planning Division, Public Health and Community Services DepartmentPublic Health Research, Education and Development ProgramHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  5. 5.City of Toronto Public HealthTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Centre for Research in Women’s HealthUniversity of TorontoToronto

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