Reinstate Taekwondo onto the GCSE, AS and A Level Physical Education Activity List
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From 2016, our children will no longer be able to include the Olympic Sport of Taekwondo in their practical and theoretical assessments for their school GCSE, AS and A Level examinations in Physical Education (applies to England). The reason seems to be that the Department For Education (DfE) and the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations (Ofqual) feel that it is too niche and specialist and that teachers may feel uncomfortable with the assessment of such sports.
On the 26th of January 2015 Ofqual announced that from 2016 the assessment of PE would become 60% theory and 40% practical (previously it was 60% practical assessment and 40% theory assessment). Concerns about the future of sport in schools with regards to this are being voiced. However, what seems to have slipped through with little obvious coverage to date, is the considerable narrowing in the sporting activities that students will be able to use for their practical and theoretical assessments. The considerations for inclusion/non-inclusion were:
1. The range and demands of skills and techniques in the activity;
2. The application of tactics/strategies/composition in the activity;
3. The ability to develop skills over a significant period of time;
4. Suitable conditions in which to perform.
You would imagine this would cause no problems for Olympic sports such as Taekwondo. But then we get to their final consideration, which seems to be the specified reason for the exclusion of Taekwondo:
5. The level of performance can be realistically assessed by PE practitioners (Teachers and Moderators).
To quote the DfE Document outlining the proposed activities:
“The awarding organizations have removed activities that are so specialist or niche that specific expertise in that activity is required in order to assess them, for example martial arts. In a number of activities used in the current specifications, experience suggests that teachers and moderators are often unfamiliar and at times uncomfortable with the assessment of them, relying too heavily on outside expertise to inform assessment decisions which in turn challenges standardization and moderation processes.”
Whilst the DfE and Ofqual may feel that teachers and moderators are more comfortable and familiar with the sports of Equestrian, Lacrosse, rowing and skulling which remain on the list, we would suggest that these are not particularly familiar and accessible sports of the typical 14-18 year old throughout the country.
We are not suggesting that such sports should not feature on the list, and Taekwondo is not the only casualty on what can now only be described as a very restricted list of sporting activities. Provided that a sport has a competitive or formal condition in which students can be assessed, any sport that meets the First 4 Conditions above should be considered suitable, and measures should be taken to ensure that the level of performance CAN be realistically assessed by PE Practitioners (Teachers and moderators).
Simply removing sports that the DfE and Ofqual feel uncomfortable with, in favour of what could be considered a strong bias towards more ‘traditional’ British sports, is wrong and suggests a failing of the educational system, and its ability to understand and communicate with sporting bodies and young people, rather than a failing of the sports or children themselves.
We would challenge Ofqual’s belief that Taekwondo is a niche sport and too specialist. After all, the Olympic Taekwondo event received full BBC coverage and Jade Jones winning her Gold Medal was voted 'the best moment of the entire 2012 London Olympic Games' by the British public. However, there are greater issues underlying the removal of Taekwondo as an acceptable sport for GCSE, AS and A Level examination.
We would urge other sports that have been left off the list to do the same, but for Taekwondo we are asking for:
- Reinstatement of the Sport of Taekwondo onto the GCSE, AS and A Level Physical Education Activity List;
- Liaison with British Taekwondo as the Governing Body for World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Taekwondo within the United Kingdom, and the British Taekwondo Council (BTC), in order to facilitate the development of robust, realistic and clearly understood assessment criteria;
- For the long term future of British sport and the health of our children, to re-evaluate the need for such a confining list of activities, and instead look to how PE Teachers and Moderators can develop and apply the principles of assessing Physical Education to any competitive or formally assessable sport
The considerable reduction in acceptable sporting activities, along with the changes in the practical/theory assessment weighting, could have potentially profound consequences for the future of sport and the future health of our children. There are already suggestions that many schools may choose to no longer offer PE as a GSCE option due to the changes in the theory/practical weighting, and the significant restrictions in the sports that can be assessed will no doubt have an impact on the number of students selecting PE as an option.
The promised Olympic Legacy of London 2012 seems to have passed our political and educational policy makers by, and cuts in funding for school sport will do little to help with the promise of fostering a healthy and active nation.
We urge you to help with one small change that we hope will lead to bigger change for sport within our schools.
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