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Five opinions on PE in five paragraphs

Good day, PE and Sport teachers. For this week's blog post, I would like to take five commonly discussed topics amongst PE teachers and give my opinion on them.

You can listen to an audio version of this post here:

Five opinions on PE in five paragraphs (audio version)
  1. The “best” GCSE PE course.
  2. The “best” A-level PE course.
  3. The “best” technical PE/sport course.
  4. State versus independent-sector PE teaching.
  5. Working as an examiner or moderator.


Opinion 1: The “best” GCSE PE course

In my personal opinion, the AQA GCSE PE is the best in class. AQA have done really well to provide clear exam command term usage whilst keeping their qualification rigorous. The OCR course may well come second but I personally find the exams too accessible. Whilst this may seem positive for achieving good raw marks, my perspective is that PE exams need to be as rigorous as any other subject’s exams and I believe OCR falls short. I do not value the Edexcel course as highly as the other two main players.


Opinion 2: The “best” A-level PE course

I really, really like the OCR A-level PE course. With the exception of some of the areas of exercise physiology and a little of sport and society, the content is a genuine learning experience and I find it intriguing and worthwhile to both teach and learn. I also really like OCR’s oral coursework, the EAPI, and this can be embraced in any centre. I also respect the AQA A-level course but it falls just short of the OCR one in a few areas. I also quite like the Edexcel A-level PE course but, as there are so few students taking it, there are issues of grade boundaries shifting year on year as well as the availability of fewer resources to purchase or acquire.


Opinion 3: The “Best” technical PE/Sport course

This is a tough one because, bluntly, I do not love either of the Cambridge National courses at level 1 / 2 nor the new BTEC Tech award. Furthermore, the new NCFE Level 1/2 course was launched with lots of issues in the specification. Thankfully, these have been largely addressed. I find all three KS4 offerings to be lacking in intrigue and deep experiences of studying our subject. However, at KS5, the story is different. I have a lot of respect for both the BTEC Sport and the BTEC Sport and Exercise Science courses. Both have a range of broad units available and teachers can tailor a BTEC Level 3 in many different ways. The Cambridge Technical course at KS5 is also a good option and is currently growing.


Opinion 4: State v independent sector PE teaching

I have only ever taught in the state sector so I can’t make a personal comparison of the experience of being a PE teacher in an independent school. On the face of it, teaching in a well-resourced independent school seems a great choice for a PE teacher but I do think there are less obvious challenges in independent schools that should be considered. There is pressure and demand in all schools but there seems to be a particular flavour of demand in independent schools. My children have attended both state schools and independent schools and my personal take is that there are deeply enriching experiences for PE teachers in both. Could I argue that there is more experiential diversity in state teaching? Maybe, but I'm not sure I could back this up.  My personal view is that teaching in state is “better”, whatever that means, but this may just be my own bias and personal history and is certainly going to be contextual. By the way, I really don't mean any offence to the independent sector. Every time I visit an independent school I have the same thought: It is great that we have great schools (of whatever nature)... How can we scale this experience to all?


Opinion 5: Working as an examiner or moderator

I wholeheartedly believe that examiner and moderator work is excellent for PE teachers. If you are umming and ahhing over it, do it. I have examined on multiple qualifications and moderated with OCR at A-level. All of my experiences have been good. The aim of doing this work should not be the pay. You’ll make a little, of course, but the real benefit is for self-realisation and career progression. Examining and moderating is all about learning. Because I lean towards theory teaching, I am personally more inclined towards examining work but this will vary from person to person.



So, there you have it… Five very rapid opinions in five very rapid paragraphs. Please accept that these are simply opinions and that my opinions do change over time. I hope there is something useful for you to contemplate here and, if you have an opinion of your own, please post it as a blog comment. I always reply.

Have a lovely day.


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