Facilitating positive experiences of physical education and school sport for Muslim girls: Haifaa Jawad, Tansin Benn and Symeon Dagkas
Introduction In the UK, in 2007, schools in an English, Midlands local education authority reported that increasing numbers of Muslim parents were withdrawing their daughters from physical education (PE). Reasons were related to parental concerns about schools’ lack of ability to meet religious and cultural needs; for example, modesty in dress codes and sex-separation (Benn et al., 2011b; Flintoff, 2010). Headteachers approached the city’s Advisory Support Services (BASS) requesting firmer guidelines to address the issues, hence the commissioning of the BASS study. The study investigated Muslim girls’ participation in physical education and school sport from multiple perspectives and provided evidence-based guidance to inform future policy and practice. Here aspects of the study relating to emergent issues, dilemmas and solutions towards more inclusive pedagogical practices are shared. The tensions headteachers faced in their schools were between meeting the statutory requirements to deliver the English national curriculum entitlement for physical education, while safeguarding religious freedom by meeting the religious requirements of Muslim pupils.