If you have a child who is good at sport and loves it, GCSE PE is a fantastic thing to study. But they really do need to be good at a number of sports.

My son is considered to be one of the top sportsmen in his year at school. He is a real all-rounder when it comes to sport, so GCSE PE is perfect for him. It isn’t all practical sports lessons. The majority of lessons (I think 60% of them) are theory lessons. GCSE practical lessons are, of course, in addition to the usual PE and games lessons that everyone does in years 10 and 11 (‘muggle PE’ as I like to call it).

From the theory lessons, my son has learned some really good stuff about performance, nutrition and how the body works – including recovery from injury. It has helped him to understand what goes into his own performance and how to make that better. I have seen an improvement in his diet because he really understands now what he should be eating to fuel his body. It’s remarkable how something learned at school has so much more impact than a parent nagging!

GCSE PE is a really good fit with GCSE biology and I can see the benefits in it not just for someone who would like a career in sport, but also for someone considering a medical degree.

Kids have to be assessed in three practical sports – a team sport, an individual sport and another sport (so either team or individual). My son has chosen football, rugby and athletics. If they choose athletics, kids have to focus on two events (having toyed with the idea of doing 200m for his second event, my son decided to go with triple jump).

While the examined (theory) aspects of the course carry a higher proportion of the marks, the practical assessments are worth a good proportion of the marks. My son has been told that, due to his outstanding performance in long jump, he should pick up 100% in athletics.

Long jump, Son, Athlete, Silent Sunday, Sunday Snap, Doing GCSE PE

But how do the examiners know how well your child is doing in their particular sport? This is the difficult bit.

Because it has to be videoed.

Have you got room on your phone? Can you hold your phone steady for the duration of a football or rugby match?

Because a two year GCSE course only covers one athletics season (ie summer of year 10), my son’s athletics filming was done a long time ago. And that was easy. We videoed every jump he did at competition between May and June (and he did a fair few competitions in that time).

The GCSE course covers two autumns ie two football and rugby seasons, so we waited until year 11 to video those. We weren’t to know that my son would be injured for half of the rugby season. So we had just five games to get the perfect footage. Perfect GCSE PE footage focuses both on the player and the game as a whole – so your child needs to be clearly visible, but it shouldn’t be zoomed in so far that you can’t see what happens next after they pass a ball or win a tackle.

On my son’s first game back, he said I should film from the halfway line, to stand the best chance of picking up all the action. But my eldest decided he would do the filming. I was very impressed by the way he walked up and down the edge of the pitch, catching all of the action. But occasionally he let the camera drop. And he thought it made good sense for the battery and phone memory to turn the camera off when there was a pause in the game eg after a try, when a player was preparing to take a kick. It turns out it didn’t make good sense. And we ended up with a lot of bits of footage, some of them very short.

But at least my son played really well in the game, so that was going to look good for the examiner. Especially his try. Oh, my eldest didn’t lower the camera far enough when his brother scored, so one minute he was running like the wind and the next there was just green pitch and grey sky. My son’s try didn’t exist.

We had four games left to get it right. Should we try a tripod next time? Could we borrow a better camera from anyone?

My son was injured for the next game. He couldn’t run at all. It looked like he could be out for two or three weeks. There were just three games left to get it right…

I don’t know what will happen if we don’t manage to get any footage. I am praying that my son will be recovered enough to play the last two or three games. We haven’t even thought about filming his football yet, because at least that season carries on after Christmas.

If you have a child who is doing GCSE PE, I would strongly recommend getting at least some footage in the bag in year 10. Because as we’ve discovered, you never know what is around the corner.

*After drafting this, all GCSE PE parents had an email from school informing them that filming only needs to be done for sport that can’t be done at school eg skiing or ballet or sport done at a high level eg rugby for a Premiership Academy team or county cricket. This takes a small amount of the pressure off, but my son still needs to be fit enough to play and be assessed in school.

rugby ball, rugby, Doing GCSE PE

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Oh gosh, it hasn’t changed much since I did it! I remember all that hassle from GCSE PE as well, having to evidence my swimming because county and regional medals apparently weren’t enough to show I could swim. It’s part of the reason I didn’t bother with it at A-Level. It always felt I was being punished for being good at a sport that wasn’t taught at school.

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    • That must have been very frustrating! It must have been even harder in those days when people didn’t have a video camera in their pocket at all times. I do still think it’s a really good subject for anyone who enjoys sport and is good at it. My son may do it for A Level.

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  2. It makes sense that they need to cover more than one sport, but it sounds a lot, when lots of children will start to specialise if they’re really good at one sport and not all children are good at or like the sports that are team sports. N can swim well, but by secondary school he won’t be doing lessons apart from the odd school one, and I’m sure they won’t do much swimming at school (not enough to video). And obviously tennis at the moment which hopefully he’ll carry on. He does multisports and is quite good at dodgeball, but I doubt at secondary he’ll get in any teams for anything or want to do other sports that are team ones. But he’s already saying he’d like to do coaching in future, so PE GCSE would have been a good option for him. But not if he’s got to show he takes part in team sports and more than one. (Unless he takes up squash or badminton and can then show doubles tennis as his team one!)

    It reminds me of my music GCSE when we had to record us playing in a group and solo. As a clarinettist you can’t hear you in an orchestra unless you’ve got solos which is pretty non existent in school or even music school orchestras. So I did a clarinet trio – turned out you only needed to record 5 minutes, and ours was a 3 movement 20 minute piece so had to get chopped off. It’s a bit ridiculous when you can have played in audition based orchestras and music schools for years, but have to somehow get recordings.

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    • It is definitely only a subject for kids who both like sport and are good at it. It just wouldn’t be possible to do it without the range of sports. Getting the videos is definitely a challenge, but I’m sure it will all be worth it and I think the curriculum is a really good one.
      GCSE music sounds very similar! My eldest actually did it, but he is the first to admit he was terrible at it, so we let him sacrifice it and get a really bad mark. It wasn’t worth putting the work in.

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