Physical Education at Key Stage 4

There are 3 pathways for you to choose from at GCSE: GCSE PE, Cambridge National Sport Science (see information below) or GCSE Dance

Core Physical Education

Pupils will be allocated a suitable pathway of activities, mostly taking part in one main activity, combined with other activities throughout the 3 year period. GCSE PE students will also take part in these lessons that will form the basis of the (40%) practical component of their GCSE course. Core PE lessons are entirely practical – pupils are assessed on their performance in each activity following the GCSE PE guidelines and criteria. Our aim is to help students develop their physical, mental and social skills within the activities they take part in, while creating a range of experiences to help them foster healthy attitudes and behaviours towards physical activity for life.

GCSE Physical Education (Full Course)

GCSE PE pupils have an additional four or five lessons of PE per fortnight on top of their core lessons. The course takes place over three years and consists of practical and theoretical components in the following format:

  • Practical Component – 40%

Pupils are assessed in a range of activities across the three years of KS4. Pupils and teachers will work together to establish each pupil’s three strongest practical assessments (30% of the practical component) One must be a team activity, one an individual activity and the third assessment can be from either:

Team activity list

Individual activity list

Association football, Badminton, Basketball, Camogie, Cricket, Dance, Gaelic football, Handball, Hockey, Hurling, Lacrosse, Netball, Rowing, Rugby League, Rugby Union , Squash, Table tennis, Tennis, Volleyball Amateur boxing, Athletics, Badminton, Canoeing/kayaking (slalom), Canoeing/kayaking (sprint), Cycling , Dance, Diving, Golf, Gymnastics (artistic), Equestrian, Rock climbing, Sculling, Skiing, Snowboarding, Squash, Swimming, Table tennis, Tennis, Trampolining


For practical assessments, candidates will be assessed on a variety of criteria:

– Acquiring and developing skills and techniques;
– Evaluating and adapting their own performance;
– Demonstrating an understanding and practical application of the rules/laws and conventions of the physical activity;
– Demonstrating an understanding of health and safety issues and their practical application.

Pupils who choose GCSE PE are expected to demonstrate a genuine interest in and commitment to extra-curricular sporting activities in and outside of school. Candidates can also be assessed in sporting activities not offered within school via video evidence (this needs to be gathered at home and in line with strict exam board guidance).

Not only will candidates develop and improve their skills, fitness and understanding within the sporting activities covered, they will also acquire vital life skills such as communication, cooperation, leadership and teamwork.

In addition, students must complete one analysis and evaluation (written coursework) of a practical performance (10% of the practical component).

  • Examinations – (60%)   Both papers are taken in the summer examinations period at the end of year 11 (May).


Paper 1: The human body and movement in physical activity and sport Paper 2: Socio-cultural influences and well-being in physical activity and sport
Applied anatomy and physiology
Movement analysis
Physical training
Use of data
Sports psychology
Socio-cultural influences
Health, fitness and well-being
Use of data
1 hour 15 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes
78 marks 78 marks
30% of GCSE 30% of GCSE

A mixture of multiple choice/objective test questions, short answer questions and extended
answer questions.


Click on the images below to learn more about some elements of the course!


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Sports Psychology

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Weight Training

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150 Years of the FA

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Have a go at this interactive quiz to see how much you know about GCSE PE already!

Cambridge National Sport Science

4 units – Injury, Fitness, Physiology, Nutrition

Mainly coursework based…..Hard work = the grade you deserve!  Leads directly onto A-level PE

Equivalent to a GCSE qualification

75% Coursework

25% Exam

At Key Stage 4 PE there is now the opportunity to study the Cambridge National Sport Science Level 2 Certificate. It is equivalent to a GCSE qualification but differs in that it is primarily assessed via coursework that you will add to during each lesson. That means that this course is not so heavily weighted on final exams, but is more focused on the amount and quality of work that you can complete over the 3 year course. It involves some practical elements too and leads directly on to A-Level PE here at The Polesworth School or other post-16 courses at other institutions. Please see below for more information about each of the 4 units of the course:

Unit 1 Injury – 1 hour exam

You will know how to prepare participants to take part in physical activity in a way which minimises the risk of injuries occurring, how to react to common injuries that can occur during sport and how to recognise the symptoms of some common medical conditions, providing a good foundation to undertake formal first aid training and qualifications.

Unit 2 Fitness – Coursework and Practical

You will know the principles and methods of training and the application of these in the design of training programmes along with practical skills in fitness testing.

Unit 3 Physiology – Coursework

You will understand key aspects of the structure and function of the musculo-skeletal and cardio-respiratory systems and investigate some of the changes which occur to them in response to short and long-term physical activity.

Unit 4 Nutrition – Coursework

You will consider the composition of a healthy, balanced diet. They will also consider the necessity of certain nutrients in particular quantities and the effects of a poor diet. They will reflect upon the role that diet plays in different sports and activities, and use the knowledge gained to produce an appropriate, effective diet plan for a performer.

The knowledge that candidates gain on either GCSE PE or Cambridge National Sport Science will be invaluable for those choosing to follow a Physical Education related career. Here are just a few careers paths you could follow:

Physiotherapist; Referee/Umpire; Sports Manager; Sports Medic; Fitness instructor; Personal Trainer, Dietician/Nutritionist; Coach; Teacher; Lecturer; Choreographer; Sports Administrator; Sports Psychologist; Professional Sportsperson; Sports Journalist; Biomechanist; Sports Photographer; Marketing (Leisure or Sport); Healthcare professional; Massage Therapist

Click this link to find out some of the current jobs available within sport and physical activity:

Also, employers from different sectors (business, medicine, law, science, media) see a PE qualification as important to have because of the skills learnt through PE; teamwork, communication, respect, desire to succeed are all sought after skills that are developed through GCSE PE. Candidates will also gain invaluable knowledge and understanding that will enable them to lead a healthy life.

GCSE PE is open to all pupils in the T pathway. Cambridge National Sport Science is open to all students on the P and S pathways. Please come to see us at the curriculum evening and speak to any member of the PE department if you want to know more about GCSE PE or Cambridge National Sport Science.

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