Competition set to become compulsory

11th November 1994 at 00:00
PHYSICAL EDUCATION The new physical education Order could prove the most contentious, with the increased emphasis on games and on performance at the expense of planning and evaluating.

Competitive games are compulsory at all key stages, despite misgivings from "a majority" of KS4 teachers who responded to the draft proposals which were published in May. "Some were concerned about the degree of prescription; others were concerned about the element of compulsion for young people who may be discouraged by having to pursue a game," says the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority's report on the consultation that followed the draft proposals.

"The responses were carefully considered. The authority's view is that the proposals provide sufficient choice for schools (in view of the wide range of individual and team games that can be offered) and for pupils (who can pursue a different activity in addition to games)."

This provision is intended to ensure continuity and progression from 5 to 16 for all pupils in this key area, says SCAA, adding: "The requirement reflects current practice in that the great majority of pupils pursue games as an essential part of the physical education programme at KS4."

The words "including competitive games" have been deleted from the KS1 introductory statement that children should study games, gymnastic activities and dance, as they received "widespread comment", but the word "competitive" has been retained in the text of the "games" area of activity.

The vast majority of teachers approved of the reduction of areas from five to three at KS1. Outdoor and adventurous activities have been deleted and athletics and games conflated. Teachers, inspectors and the Physical Education Association said the curriculum was too broad at KS2 to be taught within the times recommended in the final Dearing report. SCAA has taken up the suggestion of the Office for Standards in Education that the problem might be overcome if weightings were given to different activities. So the requirements now say that: "During each year of the key stage pupils should be taught games, gymnastic activities and dance. At points during the key stage pupils should be taught athletics activities, outdoor and adventurous activities and swimming. "

Although the national associations "strongly recommended" a minimum of two hours per week allocated to physical education, SCAA says the amount "is for schools to consider".

Dance has been slimmed, especially at KS2, and pupils must be taught to perform set dances from "different traditions of the British Isles".

Key changes from the draft proposals: * the introductory paragraphs to the programmes of study have been deleted; * greater emphasis has been placed on the practical side of the subject and less on planning and evaluating; * inventing games has been excluded from KS 1 to 3.

At key stage 1: * dance has been slimmed to exclude "working with a range and variety of contrasting stimuli" and "making dances". Pupils are now asked to perform some movements or patterns, including some from existing dance traditions.

At key stage 2: * pupils will be taught games, gym and dance each year and athletics, outdoor and adventurous activities and swimming at points during the key stage; * dance has been slimmed, and altered to strengthen the links with music. Reference to "traditional dances of the British Isles" clarifies the requirement to study dances from different times and cultures.

At key stage 3: * The requirement for health-related exercise has been strengthened to ensure that children understand the role of exercise in establishing and maintaining health; * Dance has been simplified by removing the requirement to use methods of composition and the requirement to perform set dances has been clarified by adding "from different traditions from the British Isles and elsewhere".

At key stage 4: * the words "pupils be able to record the process of composition" have been deleted from the dance requirement to simplify it.

Key changes from the current Order: * the four sections in the current programme of study have been cut to three: common and general requirements and key stage programmes of study with the majority of content contained in the latter; * the general requirements have been slimmed to the essentials of the subject with references to teaching methodology deleted and references to health-related exercise placed in the introductory requirements to each key stage; * at KS1 areas of activity have been reduced from five to three (games, gym and dance) with swimming remaining as a fourth if schools choose to teach it.

* at KS2 all areas of activity have been pruned, though less so for games. Swimming, which has always been mandatory, has been slimmed substantially with some content moved to KS3; * the overall reduction at KS3 has been achieved by splitting the areas of activity into half units, except games, which must be pursued as a full unit in each year. Breadth and balance have been preserved by requiring pupils to take four areas; depth is achieved by including games and a full unit for one other area. Swimming has been included to increase choice; * At KS4, swimming has been added as an option to provide continuity; one of the two chosen activities must be a game.

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