Physical Education

Senior school > Curriculum > Physical Education

Academic PE remains a popular choice with well over 100 students studying PE at Gresham’s across the 3 courses we deliver and this number continues to grow.

The department strives to create an environment which inspires, challenges and raises academic aspirations through a combination of academic study and physical performance.


Board: OCR (J587 Physical Education)

Studying GCSE (9-1) Physical Education will open your eyes to the amazing world of sports performance. Not only will you have the chance to perform in three different sports through the non-exam assessment component, you will also develop wide ranging knowledge into the how and why of physical activity and sport.

The combination of physical performance and academic challenge provides an exciting opportunity for pupils. You can perform, and then through the academic study learn how to improve your performance through the application of theory.

You will learn the ways in which we learn skills, why some people outperform others, mentally and physically. You will also delve into the ethical considerations behind the use of drugs and also gain an understanding of the consequences of inactivity and poor diet.

Key features
• Simple, straight forward assessment structure.
• Opportunity to perform in three different sports from a list of team and individual activities. This can be achieved through your participation in the School’s Games’ programme.
• Study topics such as anatomy, sport’s physiology, psychology and sociology and principles of training.
• Provides an excellent introduction to future study in this and many other areas.

• 40% Non-Exam Assessment (NEA). Three practical performances and one performance analysis task.
• 60% Exam. Two examination papers (2 x 1 hour) taken at the end of the two year course.
• A wide range of question types including: multiple choice, single mark, short answer and extended response.
• The opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the theory and performance skills in both NEA and through the examinations.


Entry requirements: Minimum grade 6 in GCSE PE, GCSE Biology or 6:6 in Combined Science, and the potential to play at First Team level in at least one sport.

Obviously physical education provides a natural progression onto one of the many sports-related degree courses. However, the real benefit is that it enables you to grasp a wide range of skills- from scientific research through to public speaking. It helps develop an organised well rounded pupil who can cope with the demands of university life. This wide variety of skill 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 include: coaching, teaching, health, leisure and fitness, sports technology development, sports administration, sports management and media. It is also valuable for medically-related professions such as nursing and physiotherapy.

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. Experience has shown that physical education can be combined with a wide range of other subjects.

The course is a natural extension from the GCSE with many similarities in the theoretical components covered. It has a good balance of practical and theory lessons with a slight emphasis on the theory. However, those pupils with a keen interest in sporty will be able to relate their practical experiences to the theoretical concepts. More specifically, the theory is based on modular units incorporating:

  • Anatomy and Exercise physiology
  • Sport and Technology
  • Acquisition of Skill
  • Sport and Society
  • Contemporary Studies
  • Psychology of Sport
  • Biomechanics


The A level is examined at the end of the two years of study with three theory papers. The A level carries a 70%:30% theory to practical weighting. The A level assesses the candidate in just one physical activity over the duration of the course as opposed to three at GCSE PE level.

From the practical perspective you would be expected to be representing the school at 1st team level in at least one sport and if you were competing at a higher representative level this would be very advantageous.


Exam board: Pearson

The Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Sport is intended to be an Applied qualification for post-16 learners wanting to continue their education through applied learning, and who aim to progress to higher education and ultimately to employment, possibly in the sports sector. The qualification is equivalent in size to two A Levels and has been designed as a two-year programme when studied alongside further Level 3 qualifications.

The content of this qualification has been developed in consultation with academics to ensure that it supports progression to higher education. Employers and professional bodies have also been involved and consulted to confirm that the content is appropriate and consistent with current practice for learners who may choose to enter employment directly in the sport sector.

The mandatory content allows students to concentrate on the development of their practical skills and the broad knowledge required for entrance into higher education programmes in sport.

Learners will study six mandatory units:

  • Unit 1: Anatomy and Physiology
  • Unit 2: Fitness Training and Programming for Health, Sport and Well-being
  • Unit 3: Professional Development in the Sports Industry
  • Unit 4: Sports Leadership
  • Unit 22: Investigating Business in the Sport and Active Leisure Industry
  • Unit 23: Skill Acquisition in Sport.

Learners choose three units from a range of optional units that have been designed to support progression to a variety of sport courses in higher education and to link with relevant occupational areas. This allows learners either to choose a specific specialist area in which they wish to develop their skill, or continue on a broad programme.

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A level
IB Diploma