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Studies on a Higher playing field

Higher Still Physical Education. Teacher and student CD-Roms for Mac and PC. Free copy to all schools and FE centres. Higher Still Development Unit. tel 0131 314 4620.

The initial impression of the student CD-Rom is that it has everything for those striving to achieve a pass in Higher grade or Intermediate 2 physical education. Importantly, it is in a format that is extremely easy to use, indeed one that students will enjoy using.

There is a huge amount of information organised into five sections: one for investigation of performance and one for each area of analysis of performance. As students select topics, they come across the CD-Rom's best feature: every key concept is illustrated by an interactive process that involves the student in tutorials, workbook tasks and observation of related video footage. It is a superb way to learn.

The video clips themselves are of high quality and send important messages to staff and students alike; on gender issues as well as the range of activities involved in physical education courses.

A significant issue for physical education teachers is how best to employ this impressive resource. Two obvious teaching and learning strategies spring to mind. First, as a follow-up - or as an introduction - to analysis of performance tasks delivered in a practical setting with the class teacher. (However, many colleagues agree that the content of the student workshops emphasises how difficult analysis of performance is for the majority of Higher students.) Second, the investigaion of performance section can provide many students with much of the support they require in completing a very demanding unit, thereby easing the burden on teachers.

The CD-Rom for teachers is a superb resource for every PE department. There are three sections: one on the course management of Higher Still, which is an important reference, one on learning and teaching and one on effective learning and teaching in action. The highlights of the program are found in the last two.

The learning and teaching section is based on the successful Effective Learning and Teaching in Scottish Secondary Schools: Physical Education publication (SOEID, 1995). This is a good resource in hard copy but is outstanding in the CD-Rom format. A package of text, pictures, videos and staff development tasks in a range of activities exemplifies what PE teachers should aspire to.

In the effective learning and teaching in action section, 16 practical examples illustrate four learning and teaching performance indicators. There is an impressive interactive strategy. Everyone should be well prepared when the school inspectors next visit.

There is no doubt that some teachers will find both these sections inspirational. Others, though, may well look on enviously and critically at what could be described as an ideal view of both pupils and facilities.

Stuart Forsyth is principal teacher of physical education at Stranraer Academy, presently on secondment at the Scottish School of Sport Studies, University of Strathclyde

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