14 February 2012
According to a report published today by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, there has been steady improvement in secondary school pupils’ attainment in physical education.
The report, Physical education in secondary schools, highlights that in 2011, 73% of pupils taking GCSE physical education achieved grades A*-C. This is an improvement from 2010 when 70% of pupils achieved the same grades. In the rest of the UK, only 71% of pupils taking the same course achieved these results
Ann Keane, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales, says, “It is heartening to see pupils in Wales working hard and doing better than ever in this subject. Physical education is an integral part of school life and contributes to pupils’ overall wellbeing.
Over the years one of the main challenges has been to improve the participation levels of girls. Initiatives such as the Sports Wales 5x60 programme have helped to achieve this goal through introducing more activities such as aerobics, street dance, pilates, zumba and boxercise.
However, despite this increase, nearly two-thirds of those taking GCSE physical education are boys. Schools need to develop new ways of engaging with female pupils. They also need to focus on developing pupils’ wider skills, such as communication, numeracy, thinking and leadership.”
Inspectors found that teaching is good or better in about three-quarters of lessons they observed. In the best lessons, teachers plan lessons thoughtfully to challenge and engage all pupils.
Porthcawl Comprehensive School in South Wales is a leading exponent of this approach. As part of their adventurous activities programme, the school offers Year 7 pupils (11 year olds) a surf life-saving course with support from the local club. Pupils enjoy learning about beach safety, local hazards and basic navigation, which helps to promote their problem-solving and numeracy skills.
However, the report also highlights that in a minority of lessons, teachers do not plan well enough to ensure that pupils of all abilities make progress and some pupils are not kept physically active and do not have enough opportunities to learn independently or be leaders.
Inspectors also considered the availability and suitability of facilities. They found that the majority of schools have appropriate changing rooms, playing fields and equipment. Nevertheless, the facilities in a significant minority of schools have important shortcomings such as limited indoor space, poorly-equipped gymnasia and badly-drained playing fields.
The report outlines a number of recommendations for physical education departments; ensuring pupils stay physically active in lessons, developing their communication, numeracy and thinking skills, and strengthening departmental self-evaluation and improvement planning. Local authorities also need to improve the support and advice they offer to physical education practitioners.
A range of case studies are included in the report from secondary schools across Wales.
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Notes to editors
- Inspectors visited 19 secondary schools; this sample takes into account of a range of geographical location, socio economic background, size of school and linguistic contexts
- Additional evidence includes inspection reports on secondary schools from the 2004-2010 inspection cycle, GCSE results at the end of key stage 4, and key stage 3 National Curriculum teacher assessments.
- Case studies in the report are from:
- Cwmcarn High School, Caerphilly
- Radyr Comprehensive School, Cardiff
- Maesteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend
- Porthcawl Comprehensive School, Bridgend
- Cwrt Sart Community Comprehensive School, Neath Port Talbot
- Darland High School, Wrexham
- Estyn is the office of Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales. We are independent of, but funded by, the National Assembly for Wales (under Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 1998). The purpose of Estyn is to inspect quality and standards in education and training in Wales, advise Ministers and senior policy makers and disseminate best practice on education and training.
- For further information please visit our website www.estyn.gov.uk