Staff Profiles


Dr Kristy Howells


School: School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 923295

Profile summary

I am a Reader of Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy within the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Social Sciences, in the School of Psychology and Life Sciences 

I truly believe that Physical Education can change a child’s life and I would like to ensure that it stays a key and vital part of every child’s education.  I have been lecturing and researching at CCCU since 2006 on our initial teacher education programmes of Early Years and Primary Education.  I specialize in Physical Development, Early Years and Physical Education.  I supervise colleagues and practitioners who are researching Physical Education and Physical Activity at Masters and Doctorate level.  

Most recently I published a book on Mastering Primary Physical Education, with colleagues from my team -

I believe that research informs practice and practice informs research and it is important to work collaboratively with practitioners and teachers.  I have shared my collaborative research in International Journal Environmental Research and Publich Health Journal and the International Journal of Nutrition looking at teachers and children's understanding of fluid intake, in the Association of Physcial Education Professional Journal Physical Education Matters: looking at the benefits of swimming for young children, as well as how children with ADHD can access PE. I have published in special edition journals Education 3 – 18 International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education focusing on how physical activity interventions can support children’s self-esteem and wellbeing levels.

I have worked recently on the OECD International Analysis and review of Physical Education (2018) including: mental health; self-esteem; intellectual and social outcomes.  As well as with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood contributing to a variety of reports on Emerging Dietary Patterns and the impact on child health. The Future of Supermarkets and also Mental Health through Movement.  

Research and knowledge exchange

My doctorate worked focused on children's physical activity levels that occurred within the primar school setting and the contrbution Physical Education lessons make to children's overall measured physical activity levels within the school day.  It investigated children’s perceived level of physical activity and compared this with children’s physical activity measured by accelerometers.  The majority of previous physical activity research has focused on secondary aged children and adults, with little on physical activity levels achieved by primary aged children within school time, or on the comparison between infants (6 – 7 year olds) and juniors (9 – 10 year olds). 

Data were collected within a case study setting in one school, over one school year.  20 children, 10 infants and 10 juniors wore Actigraph accelerometers to record physical activity intensity levels throughout the school day.  A repeated measures 3 factor ANOVA was used to analyse the effects of factors including the following: type of day (PE days / Non PE days); year group (infants / juniors); parts of the day (curriculum time / morning break / lunchtime / afternoon break) and gender (male / female).  P values of <0.05 were taken as the value for statistical significance ± one standard deviation. 

The findings revealed that children were more physically active on school days that included Physical Education lessons.  Boys were more physically active at a moderate to vigorous level than girls.  Junior boys were able to accumulate 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity within the school day on a day that included Physical Education lessons and in doing so reached the World Health Organisation's (WHO, 2010) recommendations for children’s physical activity within the school day.  Children’s perceived physical activity levels matched their accelerometer recordings, in particular for junior boys during break time and for girls during Physical Education lessons.  

My thesis is accessible here -

Teaching and subject expertise

I have previous experience of teaching in all school settings from Early Years to Secondary. 

I have taught across all programmes that include Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy.  My specialist areas are children's Physical Education, Physical Activity, School Sport and Movement.  I feel that I inspire the next generation of primary school teachers and early years practitioners (I have taught over 8000 students since coming the CCCU)  to enjoy Physical Education and to be role models by encouraging, in particular, girls to be fit, healthy and happy.  To provide greater efforts I have encouraged them in ensuring school sport appeals to all children and to get my trainee teachers to question the stereotyping of school sport and to promote mixed teams as well as sports for all.  I also have encouraged the knowledge and understanding of children's fluid intake and how to develop this within school settings and the community.

I previously supervised the following students during their Masters by Research studies and undertaken internal examining of Masters:

Laura Power - What is impact of wellbeing on the physical activities of occupational therapy for a child with dyspraxia? (first supervisor).

Philip Lewis - An investigation into the place meaning of recreational climbers at an indoor rock climbing venue. (first supervisor).

Sasha Pay - Negotiating Sexuality within a Female University Football Team (senior supervisor).

Neil Castle - The effective use of competition as a pedagogical tool to develop confidence and competence (first supervisor).

Emily Milne - How can we prepare children for competition? (first supervisor).

Josh Williamson - 4 and 5 year olds understanding of fluid intake (first supervisor)

I have also supervised doctorate students to completion:

Helene Cohen - Emotions and School Inspection: An exploration of the way primary and preparatory school teachers in the state and independent sector experience Ofsted and ISI. (first supervisor).

External activities

International Expert for Physical Education and Children’s Physical Activity - OECD, ICSSPE and UNESCO and FIEP

Howells K., and Sääkslahti, A. (2019) (eds) Physical Activity Recommendations For Early Childhood. An international analysis of 10 different countries’ current national physical activity policies and practices for those under the age of 5. In Federation Internationale D’education Phisique (FIEP, 2019) Physical Education in Early Childhood Education and Care: Researches – Best Practice Situation. 

Invited to contribute to OECD Future of Education 2030 Position Paper, named on the list of contributors – published January 2018

Acted as the England representative within the OECD: The Future of Education and Skills: Education 2030 – Physical Education Project.  Named on list of contributors and published 2019 – OECD Future of Education 2030.  Making Physical Education Dynamic and Inclusive for 2030.  International Curriculum Analysis -

Invited to attend and participate in the Think Tank as the Early Years expert for Physical Activity and Physical Education by the International Council of Physical Education and Sport and UNESCO, Germany, November 2017.

Active Engagement in Subject Associations

All Party Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood (2019 onwards)

BUCS physical activity research group (2019 onwards)

The Daily Mile Foundation Expert Research Steering Group (2018 onwards)

Contributed to the CIMSPA – Early Years Practitioner guidelines.

Early Years Physical Activity SIG AIESEP active UK member and Secretary (2016 onwards).

World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) (2015 onwards).

Association for Physical Education (AfPE) South East Executive Group member (2014 onwards).

Honoured Speaker

Invited honoured speaker to present 3 key note speeches at the 5th China Early Childhood Education Conference & Early Childhood Education, to 15,000 participants.

International Principal Investigator for UK

Morgado L.D.S., De Martelaer K., D’Hondt E., Barnett L.M., Costa A.M., Howells K., Sääkslahti A., Jidovtseff B. (2020). Pictorial Scale of Perceived Water Competence: Manual Testing. 1st Edition. Early Years SIG AIESEP.

Morgado, L.D.S, De Martelaer, K., Costa, A. M., Sääkslahti, A., Howells, K., Barnett, L., D'Hondt, E., Jidovtseff, B. (2019). Pictorial scale of perceived water competences. The building of a new tool adapted to the children. Presentation at the Healthy and active Children Meeting. September 2019, Verona, Italy.

Sporting Achievements:

Masters World Silver Medal Team Pursuit 2019.

National Indoor Rowing Bronze Medallist Lightweight 500m 2019.

Talented Athlete for Ashford Leisure Trust Talented Athlete Programme, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020.

Publications and research outputs

Peer reviewed journal articles

  • Howells, K. and Coppinger T. (2020) Teachers' Perceptions and Understanding of Children's Fluid Intake. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, 4050.
  • Dray K., and Howells, K., (2019) Exploring the Use of E-Portfolios in Higher Education Coaching Programs. International Sport Coaching Journal ISCJ Special Issue: Global Perspectives in Coach Education for the Coach Developer 6 (3) pp.359-365
  • Williamson, J. and Howells, K., (2019) Young Children’s Understanding of Fluid Intake. International Journal of Nutrition 4 (4) pp.1-8 DOI: 10.14302/issn.2379-7835.ijn-19-3006.
  • Coppinger T., and Howells K. (2019) International Comparison of Children’s Knowledge, Barriers and Reported Fluid Intake Across the School Day. International Journal of Nurtition. DOI: 10.14302/issn.2379-7835.ijn-19-904
  • Bailey, R., Howells, K. and Glibo, I. (2018) Physical activity and mental health of school-aged children and adolescents: A rapid review.  International Journal of Physical Education (accepted March 2018)
  • Meehan C., and Howells K. (2018) In search of the feeling of ‘belonging’ in Higher Education: Undergraduate students transition into Higher Education.  Journal of Further and Higher Education.  Accepted April 2018.
  • Howells K. and Bowen J. (2016) Physical Activity and Self-Esteem- Jonny’s Story. Education 3 -13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education (Special Edition) DOI:10.1080/03004279.2016.1171572.


Howells, K., Lawrence, J. and Roden, J. (2020) Mentoring Teachers in the Primary School. London: Routledge. 

Howells, K., Carney A., Castle N., and Little R. (2018) Mastering Primary Physical Education. London: Bloomsbury. 

Book chapters

  • Howells, K. (2021) Chapter 8 Physical Education and Health Education in Macdonald R. and Gibson, P. (eds) Inspiring Primary Learners: Insights and Inspiration Across the Curriculum London: Routledge. 
  • Howells K., Chapter 14 - Planning physical education in the national curriculum in Sewell, K. (ed) (2021) Planning the Primary National Curriculum.  A Complete Guide for Trainees and Teachers. London: Sage (3rd  edition) p.266 – 280.

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Last edited: 19/11/2020 13:32:00