I strongly advise teachers with responsibility for physical education or examination subjects to take a look and explore the data using these tools.
Physical Education Key Points
Using the interactive analytics there are two key takeaways for physical education from my perspective.
Strong Physical Education Performance
Physical education is a consistently strong performer with outcomes of 100% of students achieving G/1 or above, and in 2019 circa 76% achieving a C/4 and above and 21% achieving a A/7 and above. With results as strong as these you would think that physical education would be championed as a highly valuable subject within schools (not to mention the wider health and wellbeing benefits).
However, this is not the case with Research from the Youth Sport Trust showing that 38% of English secondary schools have cut timetabled PE for 14- to 16-year-olds. One of the main reasons for this is the increased pressure to produce exam results. Much of the time pupils would usually spend in PE lessons is now spent receiving extra tutoring on topics other than PE. Despite this reduced time in core physical education, examination PE has continued to produce and improve upon its outcomes. But this is a worrying trend, so too is the dramatic decline in PE subject uptake at GCSE.
Physical Education GCSE Number of Candidates
Since 2016 physical education GCSE uptake by pupil has steadily declined. And over a ten year period between 2008 and 2019 physical education candidate numbers have plummeted from over 130K to just over 75K. These are worrying statistics and more needs to be done to understand the reason for the decline and moreover make steps to reverse the current trend.
Overall the report highlights positive outcomes for GCSE results marking the successful navigation of GCSE reforms with little significant impact on overall performance.
I would argue that the picture for physical education is more worrying because despite returning secure and strong GCSE outcomes for pupils, physical education GCSE uptake continues to decline and its value within schools continues to be considered as a ‘relative value’ in comparison to other core subjects.
More needs to be done to elevate the value of physical education within schools and seemingly with pupils, especially prior to them choosing their GCSE subjects and throughout their education more widely.
For the full GCSE results report please visit this link