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Unlocking PE

Physical education staff who are currently delivering Higher and Intermediate 2 PE are still awaiting the outcome of the Scottish Qualifications Authority's consultation period that finished at the end of November. There are some rising concerns about the amount of time that is passing without any indication of an outcome.

A particular focus of the consultation for us was our concern about two appendices to the new Arrangements documents. Appendix 3 lists the "areas of analysis of performance" and specifies required "key concept" knowledge for each of the four areas listed. While we acknowledge that only minor revisions have been made to the "key concepts," we consider they need some further amendments. We hope action has been taken on this as a result of the consultation.

Our greater anxiety concerns appendix 4. The previous status of appendix 4 was "advice" and, in its original form, it was contained within "support materials". Appendix 4 to the new Arrangements now represents a "national prescription" for PE. The "key features" it contains for each of the four "areas of analysis" now extends to 11 pages of "course content".

The 11 pages of this appendix are first broken down into 16 "key concepts" and then, in turn, these "key concepts" are extended to 39 "key features".

Every "key concept" leading into the "key features" is introduced with the following statement: "Candidates should examine in detail the course content outlined in the features below."

In our view, this course design flies in the face of Scottish Executive recommendations for greater flexibility in the senior school curriculum. It is a prescriptive approach which represents a significant change to examination arrangements to which we are opposed.

What timescale is the SQA working to while we continue to try to deliver new courses? When will we hear the outcome of the supposed consultation? Is the tail wagging the dog?

Learning and Teaching Scotland has already issued support materials and there has even been a commercial book published. We question how these items have appeared in the public domain prior to the conclusion of SQA's consultation period. Is this a fait accompli? Is the Scottish PE profession being duped?

Beyond these major worries, we also have concerns about the SQA's quality control procedures. Exemplification materials relating to the new Higher NAB item for the "analysing and developing performance" unit were made available on the SQA's secure website in December. This resource, which exam centres downloaded, was at odds with the published Arrangements documents, as "outcomes" and "performance criteria" did not accurately correspond. There is considerable confusion in the PE profession in Scotland.

When can we reasonably expect to hear the outcome of the consultation that took place - or are our concerns going to be quietly, but conveniently, swept under the carpet?

Catherine Robertson Ronnie Hamilton Cynthia Tuckerman Alan WhittingtonJenny Grassick Principal teachers of PE

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