Lecturer says teacher gender not important

Dr Gary Stidder
Dr Gary Stidder

PE teachers can teach school pupils of the opposite sex just as well as they do pupils of their own sex, according to new research by Eastbourne lecturer Gary Stidder.

His research showed that teaching ability was the most important factor regardless of whether the teacher is a Sir or Ms.

Dr Stidder, principal lecturer at the University of Brighton’s School of Sport and Service Management in Eastbourne, who conducted the research, said the findings “fly in the face” of the common perception.

He said, “This has dispelled the myth that the biological sex of a PE teacher is a significant factor to be considered in the teaching and learning of physical education in secondary schools.

“It makes little or no difference to the learning of secondary school pupils nor is there any evidence to suggest that it jeopardizes the professional development or career prospects of new recruits to the profession despite a history of sex-segregated practice in the past.”

His study focused on the school-based training experiences of trainee physical education teachers in opposite-sex secondary schools in Kent and East Sussex.

Dr Stidder, whose research has been published in the journal Sport, Education and Society, interviewed mentors, senior teachers, pupils and three University of Brighton trainee teachers over a 75-day training period.

The trainee PE teachers believed that professional integrity, competence and generally just being good at their job, were more important than issues associated with their biological sex.

“It is suggested the findings from this study could stimulate professional debate with regards to training policies in secondary school physical education.”

Trainee PE teacher Matthew Middleton was placed at Moira House Girls School in Eastbourne and insisted gender made no difference.

“There’s no reason why men should not teach PE in girls’ schools,” said Mr Middleton.