Physical education in secondary schools - February 2012


More pupils attained a grade A*-C in physical education at GCSE in 2011 than in 2010. Initiatives such as the Physical Education and School Sports action plan and the 5x60 initiative have helped to widen the range of activities available to pupils, and the increase girls’ participation in physical activity.

In the schools we surveyed, standards of teaching were good or better in around three quarters of the lessons we observed. However, in a minority of lessons, teachers don’t plan well enough to ensure that pupils of all abilities make progress. Not all pupils have the ability to learn independently, or to be leaders.


Physical education departments should:

  • make sure that lessons provide suitable opportunities for pupils to keep physically active and engage in sustained physical activity; and
  • offer learning activities that will enable pupils of all abilities to make progress and, in particular, provide suitable challenge for more able key stage 3 pupils.

Local authorities should:

  • improve support and advice for physical education practitioners and promote best practice;
  • use the 5x60 initiative to promote more effective links with local clubs and organisations to promote healthy lifestyles and lifelong participation in sport and physical recreation; and
  • secure greater accuracy and consistency in judging National Curriculum levels at key stage 3.

The Welsh Government should:

  • consider how best to sustain the good practice and impact of the PESS and 5x60 initiatives.

For a full list of recommendations, please download the report.

Best practice

Case studies within the report include best practice from Radyr Comprehensive School, Darland High School, Cwmcarn High School, Maesteg Comprehensive School, Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School, and Porthcawl Comprehensive School.

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