The physical education and sport premium: social justice, autonomy and school sport policy in England

David Meir*, Thomas Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Since the global economic recession, public services in the UK have badly affected by austerity measures. However, whilst public services, including health, defence and the police faced significant cuts to their budgets, Primary Physical Education in England has actually received additional ring-fenced funding through the Physical Education and Sport Premium since 2013. This funding is provided directly to schools, and though the Department for Education provides guidance on how the Premium might be spent, schools effectively have autonomy to spend it in ways that they believe will best meet the needs of their learners and wider stakeholders. Utilising a mixed method approach involving analysing published material on school websites and semi-structured interviews with primary school and local authority staff, the aim of this article is to critically analyse how primary schools across a borough in the North West of England are spending the Premium. Our analysis is underpinned by principles of social justice, which we interpret as a marker for concerns to do with fairness, equality, exclusion, discrimination, power
differentials and privilege. We argue that, in large part due to the autonomy of implementation, the Physical Education and Sport Premium has failed to realise its inherent social justice agenda, in that, investment in PE and school sport is unjust and too heavily dependent on the value placed upon it by individual schools. It is our contention therefore, that equal opportunities will remain unobtainable if the central tenets of the reproduction of privilege are allowed to remain uncontested.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Early online date10 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2019


  • (In)equality
  • Physical education and sport premium
  • Social justice
  • Sport policy
  • Primary education


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