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A-level sport widens field

Budding Mike Athertons and Will Carlings could start here: cricket, and rugby, along with football, netball and trampolining have been added to the newly approved A-level syllabuses in physical education and sports studies set by the Associated Examining Board.

The board, one of the biggest in the country, pioneered the two A-levels 10 years ago and has now brought together an academic core syllabus for both which will count for 70 per cent of the marks.

For PE, practical work is required whereas sports studies students must submit a 3,000-word dissertation. The new sports options join the established ones, including badminton and swimming.

These subjects are not only popular, but a way into degree courses as all universities accept them, said George Turnbull, spokesman for the AEB. One of the first to take the exam went to Oxford University.

But only 2 per cent of successful students in a 1989 survey went on to a sports career: "It is not a coaching syllabus; it is an A-level," Mr Turnbull added.

The new courses have been approved by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and will begin in September. By then, some 14,000 youngsters will have taken one of the two A-levels, a huge rise on the pioneering year of 1988 when 230 took sports studies and 35 did PE.

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