Assembling the privatisation of physical education and the 'inexpert' teacher

Darren Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, I examine the practice of outsourcing physical education (PE) lessons to external sports organisations. I draw from ethnographic research conducted with two primary schools in New Zealand to illuminate how outsourcing interconnects with the privatisation of education. Using Foucault's notion of government, I demonstrate how schools’ employment of four outside providers worked to govern teachers towards certain ends. In addition, I drew on the analytical framework of the assemblage to examine how the dual notions of the inexpert classroom teacher and the expert outside provider converged with the discourse of ‘PE as sport’, neoliberalism, Kiwisport, National Standards, professional development and multi-sector partnerships to form a privatisation assemblage. I argue that the privatisation assemblage worked to restrict and constrain teachers’ possible thoughts and actions, making teachers’ ‘choice’ to outsource PE one that they understood as both pragmatic, in terms of time investment, and educationally valuable, in so far as they perceived themselves as lacking the requisite expertise. I also argue that outsourcing and the privatisation of PE is problematic as it did not necessarily work in the best interests of teachers or students. I suggest further research is necessary to interrogate and make visible how the disparate elements of the privatisation assemblage are made to hold together, as well as how the fragile connections between these elements may be placed under pressure. The notion that outside providers are expert PE teachers and classroom teachers are inexpert is a critical aspect of the assemblage that should be challenged and resisted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number1
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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