The impact of a special school placement on self-perceptions of confidence and competence among prospective PE teachers

Anthony Maher, D Morley, J Fimusanami, P Ogilvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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School-based placements are often used as a way of preparing prospective teachers for the demands of their future role. However, little is known about the impact of such situated learning experiences on prospective physical education (PE) teachers’ confidence and competence. To the best of our knowledge, this article is the first of its kind to explore prospective teachers’ views of, and experiences within, special schools in order to identify the experiential mechanisms that shape self-perceptions of competence and confidence when teaching pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in PE. Thirty-two final year undergraduate students participated in focus group interviews and were selected on the basis that they: (1) were studying a Special Educational Needs and Disability in PE undergraduate module; (2) aspired to be a PE teacher; and (3) had attended six half-days of placement in a special school. All focus group transcripts were subjected to open, axial and selective coding in order to identify themes and sub-themes. The themes that were constructed from the analysis were: impact of placement role on confidence and competence; impact of knowing pupils’ needs and capabilities; conceptualising confidence and perceptions of its development; and conceptualising competence and perceptions of its development. We use these themes to discuss the usefulness of special school-based placements for preparing aspiring teachers for their role as inclusive educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-490
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Physical Education
  • Special Schools
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • Teacher Education
  • School Placements.
  • special educational needs and disabilities
  • special schools
  • teacher education
  • school placements
  • Physical education


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