Graham Hart triesto decide between two high-performing PE coursebooks
Drugs, sponsorship, hooliganism, injury, diet and health, coaching, performance - all are part of what is generally termed "physical education" these days. And both these new books encompass the subject in its very broadest sense. They are, without question, ideal as coursebooks for GCSE PE. To choose between them?
PE for You sells an early dummy. While blurb claims it is suitable for 11 to 18-year-olds, it clearly has the 14 to 16 goal in its sights. The colourful and clear presentation of topics that just happen to match the GCSE syllabus makes this plain. In support of its simple text are numerous additional features: key word lists, quick quizzes, coursework suggestions and revision notes. A full glossary and index also contribute to making this an excellent and versatile performer.
Bigger, heavier and more for the marathon than the sprint, Sport and PE scores heavily in its section on the human body. When it comes to the written examination, this will be a real crowd pleaser. Considerable effort has been spent on the editing. The text displays a winning combination: relevant, easy to read and lively. Many of the illustrations add real value too - more than merely decorative. Of the two course books, Sport and PE will be a cheaper signing, looking good value at pound;10.99.
Both titles have teacher's resource packs. The pound;29.99 version for Sport and PE is available now, while the PE for You pound;40 model will be available next month. Both comprise photocopiable masters, teacher's notes and other materials.
If you can only acquire one of these books, then your choice may have to be made on grounds of level. While PE for You appears, at first glance, the more manageable and classroom friendly of the two, it also packs in a lot of information within its 256 pages. The fact that it promotes itself as suitable background for A-level suggests it might be better for the higher ability student. Sport and PE, in contrast, is much longer but slightly less dense - possibly better equipped for the lower and middle ability range.
Easing their charges through the GCSE examination - especially with books like these - is often less of a struggle for teachers than getting young people to take an interest in sport beyond the age of 16. On leaving the GCSE behind, "sport for all" usually becomes sport merely for averagely fit and able young men. The gyms of this nation are full of 40-year-olds wishing they hadn't missed 20 years of exercise.
Sport and PE clearly has this kind of issue in mind; you can tell by the front cover, which features a genuine cross-section of participants. Throughout its 300-plus pages the mix is total and apparently uncontrived. Achievers and hopefuls, professional and amateurs, able and disabled are all shown to be a part of sport. And although you shouldn't judge any book by its cover, PE for You sets it stall out with four pictures of high achievers. There is a nagging doubt that the authors are entranced by the concept of performance rather than participation. But this minor grumble should not be a reason for ignoring the other merits of this title.