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Table 2 Sample quotes for themes, main categories, subcategories, and positive/negative quotes identified for Headteachers’ perceptions and prioritisation regarding implementation of physically active lessons

From: ‘It’s not because we don’t believe in it...’: Headteachers’ perceptions of implementing physically active lessons in school

ThemesMain categoriesSubcategoriesSample quotesPositive (+) /negative (−) quotes for implementation
Perception of needBenefitsIncreased learning (n:18)“I believe physically active lessons is a fine way to get engagement from the children who do not learn so much from just sitting quietly in the classroom and listening to the teacher.”+
Reduction of sedentary time (n:7)“In the lower secondary school, the ordinary lessons are based on the pupils sitting still at their desks, even the breaks are not active since they are mostly socialising with others using digital gadgets … This makes me think that it is important that they do other activities, involving physical activity.”+
Identified needsNew knowledge (n:2)“We wanted to participate in order to further develop our own model, we were afraid of missing out on new knowledge in the area.”+
For the six-year-olds (n:5)“When the six-year-olds came into school, they should just play, and then it has become more and more teaching subjects and less and less time for play, and we have discussed this and agreed on that we really want to do something about it.”+
Perception of compatibilitySchool policyNational curriculum (n:10)“Physically active lessons are relevant to our school because we have worked a lot with understanding the national curriculum …. and it adds up to a lot of children activities.”+
Municipality quality plan (n:6)“You know, last year at this time, we were in the process of implementing the new quality plan for the municipality, but it says nothing about physical activity but reading, writing, maths and digital competencies, so we thought it didn’t fit.”-
Local school priority areasHealthy lifestyle (n:11)“We are positive to physically active lessons because we have the focus area healthy lifestyle and invest a lot of time in both physical and mental health.”+
Variated teaching (n:12)“We are focusing on introducing varied and more practically supported teaching and it is positive to bring in more physical activity, and the teachers are always looking for good tools they can use in teaching.”+
Have facilitated physical activity (n:12)“I see many links between what you presented in Active School programme and what’s called Active TL-programme (a pupil-driven commercial PA program) So my thinking was, here we are reasonably well covered.”
Better suited for primary school children (n:2)“We want more physical activity in school but jumping the multiplication table and play-based activities, it seems a bit too childish in the secondary school.”
Perception of school capacityChange experienceCulture for change (n:14)“Fifteen years ago, this school was very traditional, but we have worked systematically with development work, and now we perceive ourselves as a learning organisation”+
Struggling with change work (n:12)“The teachers work the way they always have done, therefore it is challenging to initiate change work, and teachers are rarely excited about new proposals. But I believe it is not typical for us, it is the way it is.”
Change overloadCompeting priorities (n:24)“As school, we get so many offers on important things we can participate in, and as headteacher, you have to prioritise. The reason why we did not go for it (physically active lessons) wasn’t because we don’t believe in it, but because the teachers have enough and we don’t have capacity for everything new.”
Teachers are tired of change (n:14)“An employee survey we recently conducted showed that the teachers are tired of change.”
LeadershipCapacity to support implementation (n:11)“Should we have implemented physically active lessons, then it must be done collectively, but in this case neither I nor the management have had capacity to do the necessary work.”
Management decides (n:16)“I was the one who decided not to participate in the project; I discussed it with the management team, but not the teachers.”
Collective decision (n:13)We made the decision not to participate together with the teachers, and everyone agreed that the time was not appropriate. Physical activity is an area I’m passionate about, so that decision was to compromise my own values.”+
Teachers’ autonomy (n:4)“It is not appropriate for us to enter the project in the short term, but I know there are some teachers who use this as a didactic tool already.
Incentive for changeFunding(n:3)“An important contributing factor to our acceptance of the School in Motion project (national research project for increased PA in lower secondary school) was that it came with extra funds … I think that’s what it takes.”
Stronger knowledge-base (n:3)“I considered starting with physically active lessons, but the biggest challenge is to get the teachers exited, I think it would have been easier to get buy-in if there had been documented learning outcomes of the method.”
  1. n: Refers to how many headteachers gave similar comments