Fit to face exams and beyond

14th October 2005 at 01:00
ESSENTIAL GCSE PE FOR EDEXCEL. By Sue Hartigan. Hodder Arnold pound;14.99.

MEETING SEN IN THE CURRICULUM: PESports. By Crispin Andrews. David Fulton Publishers pound;25.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION FOR LIFELONG FITNESS (2nd edition). Human Kinetics Pounds 26.50.

Mike Levy reviews guides for GCSE, special needs and life after school

Essential GCSE PE for Edexcel aims to provide students with the information they need to pass the written exam and is divided into three sections: exercise and training; safety aspects and risk assessment in physical activities and sport; and applied anatomy and physiology. There is a useful chapter to test your understanding, a helpful glossary and an index.

Each chapter is well illustrated with diagrams and photos, and the layout is appropriately energetic. Students are given lots to think about with a clear set of learning goals and questions and activities on each page. The chapter on the principles of training provides an in-depth overview. With lots of good action photos, little space is wasted. The illustrations cover a wide variety of sports and activities so few students should feel left out.

The author provides a careful progression so that students really get a sense of building their knowledge and skills. Hartigan (a long-standing PE teacher and principal examiner) has also varied the material, including fun activities such as a revision crossword, but on the whole the tone is serious, focused and fit for purpose.

In Meeting SEN in the Curriculum: PESports, Crispin Andrews combines special needs expertise with the specifics of PE and sports education. His background as an educational sports journalist (including contributions to The TES) ensures that the subject is clearly presented. He has also drawn on the experience and knowledge of three special needs specialists to produce a teachers' guide that is comprehensive and authoritative. The accompanying CD contains templates and checklists that can be adapted for your own use. There is also a useful set of resources for pupils, such as a self-evaluation checklist, rules for sports and so on.

The opening chapters set out how and where you can start to write a special needs policy for your department. In what may often be seen as a daunting task, the author provides case studies and examples. There is a useful overview of different needs and how to help meet them. The book's core is a chapter on creating an inclusive environment for PE and sports, with a detailed section on what such an environment might look like.

A real strength of the book is the background information and context combined with practical ideas, such as ensuring that changing-room pegs are at the right height and that colour-blind students are not confused by the markings on the gym floor. A powerful section on including the excluded looks at practical programmes that have been tried and tested (and often really enjoyed by pupils). This very timely book provides a comprehensive survey of the issues and a well-directed overview of best practice in the UK.

Although Physical Education for Lifelong Fitness was written for PE and sports teachers taking part in the Physical Best programme in the US, its encyclopedic breadth will be of use to British teachers. This large-format book packs a lot of information, advice and good practice into its 334 pages. Different authors cover the foundations and components of health-related fitness and physical activity, curriculum and teaching methods as well as a chunky section on assessing physical fitness in a health context. The book has a rather academic view (indeed, the references at the end are a great starting point for research). It deals with barriers to physical activity for children with disabilities and looks at why (it seems) young people are becoming generally less active and more unfit.

The book is very "can do" in its approach: practical advice ranges from how to motivate students for an active life to what kind of shape-up programmes work best - and what exactly do we mean when we say: "PE should be fun"? It is good on basic training principles and on healthy diets and how to achieve them.

It's more of a useful handbook than a good read, with tips for things like skinfold testing, bench press techniques and how to tailor programmes to specific needs. The six appendices offer template worksheets, exercises for pre-puberty, and a useful illustrated section giving alternatives to "questionable exercises" such as yoga plough. The book warns you of the dangers and in each case provides a safer alternative.

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