What is Physical Education A level about?
Are you ...
- passionate about sport?
- driven to find out how you can improve your performance?
- interested in how our bodies push themselves to their physical peak?
- keen to understand what gives Olympic champions the psychological edge over their competitors?
- intrigued by why nearly one billion people would watch a single sporting event?
If the answer is yes, then Physical Education is the subject for you. The course is extremely diverse, it allows you to explore and enhance your own sporting ability, but also bridges the academic divide between the arts and sciences.
What does the course consist of?
The course follows the AQA examining board PE specification and is focused on relating theory to sport and its impact on performance. There are four distinct sections of the syllabus:
- Applied Physiology in which you will explore many topics including specialised training, nutrition, sports injuries, biomechanics, as well as looking in detail at how the respiratory, cardiovascular systems and energy systems function and respond to exercise.
- Sports Psychology in which you will discover how the brain is behind our performance and how you can use psychological techniques to gain that extra yard
- The Sociological Background and Impact of Sport. Here you will not only learn about the origins of sport but also the huge impact that sport has on society, and why it is a multi billion pound industry. There are many fascinating topic areas including, the role of sports organisations, drugs in sport, hooliganism, and sport's relationship with business and the media.
- Performing and Analysing your Own Sports Performance. This is the practical element where you will perform and evaluate your performance as a player, coach or official.
More specifically, the course is divided into four units – two for each year:
- Unit 1 – 60% exam-based assessment. Short questions, based on the Physiological, Psychological and Sociological areas with one extended question in section B
- Unit 2 – 40% externally moderated. Here you will perform, and evaluate your performance, in two sports in any of the following areas: player, coach or official. In this unit the assessment is mainly based upon the core skills of the chosen sport
- Unit 3 – 60% exam-based assessment. There are three extended questions which challenge your ability to demonstrate depth of knowledge, as well as a choice of shorter questions in similar topic areas to that of Unit 1 in AS.
- Unit 4 – 40% externally moderated assessment. Half of the marks are allocated for you performance in one sport within a competitive environment; the other half is coursework based on the application of theory to help evaluate and improve your performance
Whom does the subject suit?
PE suits students who have a passion for sport; students who will enjoy a fast paced and diverse course that covers many subject areas – yet is always underpinned by the student's application to sport.
Students that have taken PE have combined it with a wide array of other subjects from Art through to Physics. Some are keen to study the subject further at University, whilst many take the subject because they realise it is important to study something you enjoy.
There are no qualifying criteria to take the subject, but if you compete at a high level in at least one sport this will be very advantageous. GSCE Sports Studies/PE and A level Biology may help in this course, but are certainly not a requirement.
How is PE taught at d'Overbroeck's
We find the best way to teach the syllabus content is through student input, through people's experiences, ideas and debates. We can all relate to the body and to sporting performance, and so class input becomes an integral part of the groups understanding.
There's also a strong element of practical application to help understand more complex theory. Using sport to learn makes it more enjoyable as well as more memorable.
There are many ways in which we achieve this – from simple group exercises to complex sports testing at a University sports laboratory. This enables us to bring the science of the subject to life. The key fact, though, is that you are learning about something that you enjoy and this helps you to understand the principals better.
Who will teach me?
You will be taught by Johny Richards and Fran Centamore
Johny graduated from the University of Hull in Sports Science, PE and Management, and is an AQA PE examiner. He is passionate about many sports, and still competes to national level in swimming as well as playing local level football and cricket.
Fran graduated from Gloucester University with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and a PGCE in PE. Fran plays hockey for Cheltenham ladies, captaining the 2nd XI as well as coaching county youth squads.
What can I read to get an idea of the subject?
Sport is all around us – so buying a good broadsheet newspaper and having a read will often give you an insight into many of the sport related areas within the course. For an idea of more specific PE A level texts that we use, take a look at:
- AQA PE for AS, Thompson, Wiggins-James and James (Hodder)
- AQA A2 Physical Education, Atherton, Burrows and Young (Philip Allan)
However, the best advice is to purchase the PE Review Magazine. This can be bought online and is a leading A level Physical Education based publication with lots of insightful information.
What might the subject lead onto?
The obvious suggestion is to say that it will lead onto a one of many of the sports-related degree courses available. However, the real benefit of the PE A level is that it enables you to grasp a wide range of skills – from scientific research through to debate. It also developes an organised well rounded student that can cope with the demands of University life. This wide variety of skill sets will stand you in good stead for most University courses.
The same applies to the workplace. Sport is now such a huge industry that there are endless employment opportunities. A few examples: coaching, teaching, biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, officiating, sports technology development, sports administration, sports management and media.
No, about 50% of our students have usually taken GCSE PE, but many of our students who are successful at A-level have not. There is only an overlap in part of one section (Physiology) of the syllabus. If you haven’t enjoyed GCSE PE it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy A-level as there are many different elements to it: Physiology, Psychology, Sociology and Practical Performance
If you have taken GCSE PE it may be worth considering the grade, the same could be said for Biology. Grades lower than a B may flag up concern depending on circumstances.
What skills should I have?
There is no specific skill set required in the theory, because you move from Biological/Physical science to Social science within the same subject. So you may need to be able to form your own thoughts and arguments, but equally be able to know facts. For this reason it suits students with diverse interests/skills.
From a practical viewpoint, you should be a good club level player, preferably bordering on County standard. If you are not you will need to be academically bright to account for lower practical marks if you want to achieve A grades.
You need to be committed to your sport, willing to improve your own ability and explore how to analyse your performance. To be a good sportsperson and to undertake A-levels naturally requires motivation, but also organisational skills so you can manage your time effectively.
What else should I consider before choosing?
Are you passionate about sport, do you like watching, playing, watching and reading about competitive sport? If you do this will help you relate to the course content and understand it better.
Anything else I should consider?
You do not need to have great writing skills. There are some longer based questions in the A2 exam, but the majority of marks are picked up for the quantity of answers you can recite not necessarily the quality of your writing.