10 Essential questions to help you choose a scheme of work for Physical Education

  1. Why am I considering purchasing a scheme of work? If the answer to this question is lack of subject knowledge, then it is useful to determine what is meant by subject knowledge: Knowledge of the National Curriculum Programme of Study for PE; knowledge of child development and appropriate stage related activities; knowledge of how to teach PE (pedagogical content knowledge); knowledge of assessment related to standards/knowledge of assessment for learning; subject matter content e.g. knowledge of gymnastics (as a vehicle for developing national curriculum PE standards). A scheme of work will not provide all of the previous listed components and it is often better seeking CPD input from a different source(s).
  2. Is the scheme aligned to the purpose, 4 aims and standards outlined in the DfE (2013) National Curriculum PE Programme of Study? This is a statutory requirement for all state maintained schools. Many commercial companies do not understand the new expected (mastery) standards as the units of work that make up the scheme are focused on content rather than learners, their learning and learning standards. A scheme, therefore might be great for football, for netball, for gymnastics, for dance subject matter content etc., but if it does not align to the new standards then it is ‘not worth the paper it is written on’.
  3. Does the scheme scaffold units of work of sufficient length? Traditionally activities have been planned based on six half-term blocks of work. This is a limited approach, especially if lesson plans are included that focus on an approach that details one-skill per week. This is not a mastery approach (you wouldn’t focus on probability in maths for 40 minutes and then move on to something else). It doesn’t allow for assessment for learning practices and it doesn’t allow for a mastery approach. The six areas of activity are no longer a requirement and schemes that promote this remove flexibility and opportunity for teachers and learners to design bespoke PE programmes and learning sequences.
  4. Is the scheme of work adaptable? Teachers observe learners performing planned tasks. It is key that teachers are skilled at observing children moving, and analysing movement, otherwise, it becomes impossible to intervene effectively to make improvements. There are many teachers who are unskilled in this area, and I know where I would spend professional learning monies if I were still working in a school context. The alternative is teachers who use a prescribed unit of work that details lessons on a weekly basis and then teach them in a spoon-fed or ‘Postman Pat’ delivery style. Assessment in the form of observation to inform teaching and learning is absent in this example due to a focus on content and coverage.
  5. Does the scheme focus on holistic learning in PE not just skill? Too many schemes focus on only physical skills (psychomotor) and omit the cognitive and affective domains. Children learn and grow in all three domains and this learning is outlined in the PE programmes of study. If a scheme only focuses on skill, then it should be avoided.
  6. Does the scheme allow for horizontal as well as vertical coherence? When teachers focus on the learning standards to be achieved rather than focus on the activity and the content to be covered the issue of coherence becomes transparent. Many schemes order units of activity that include throwing and catching (e.g. netball type activities) in the autumn term and children do not get opportunity to practice throwing and catching again until 7 months later in the summer term in rounders type activities (horizontal coherence). This is not an approach that promotes coherence or continuity and therefore limits mastery learning. This situation is exacerbated when different activities are included year on year (vertical coherence) and no regard is shown for learning coherence.
  7. Does the scheme promote assessment without levels and avoid labelling? Any scheme that:
      • promotes labelling using old national curriculum level descriptors;
      • reinvents levels in any other guise (grades, numbers, rainbow colours, steps);
      • develops a series of surface learning statements such as “I can balance on one leg for 3 seconds”…Is not fit for purpose and the authors do not understand the reason why levels were removed in the first place.
  8. Is the scheme recognised by the national subject association for physical education? The Association for Physical Education (afPE) is the only national subject association recognised by the DfE. The subject association has a Professional Development Board (PDB) which receives product submissions from organisations. If organisations have received afPE endorsement, then they can state this and display the afPE logo. This is different to organisations that have joined afPE as a business associate.
  9. Is the Scheme of Work value for money? Considering all of the above, now compare prices and compare products from different commercial companies (if you haven’t already decided to develop your own overtime as an effective approach to CPD).
  10. What is the shelf-life of the Scheme of Work and is it future-proofed? Whether we like it or not we are working in a public service and as a result must follow government policy and legislation. Policy can therefore change every time the government changes or the term of office comes to an end. Some schemes of work include video resources of skill development etc., and these can often be used in conjunction with future government (physical) education policy and legislation, as what is expected at various stages of childhood growth and development do not change.

Excerpt from the book:

Frapwell, A. (2015). A Practical Guide to Assessing without Levels: Supporting and Safeguarding High Quality Achievement in Physical Education. Leeds: Coachwise.


Planning a Unit of Work Embedding

Assessment (Using the SOLO Approach)

At a planning meeting in Kosovo, while discussing planning resources to support teachers, on the table in front of me were more than 15 different templates for a medium-term plan. These ranged from several A4 documents of three or four pages to a nine-page epic. The nine-pager wasn’t actually a medium-term plan or unit of work; rather, it was a series of seven individual lesson plans that built learning on one skill per week. Interestingly, some meeting attendees were quite precious about a particular template, usually because it was theirs, and often because of the work that had gone into the detail. By using an approach that England Rugby World Cup 2003 winning coach Clive Woodward calls ‘white rooming’, we developed guidance to help teachers. This way of working involves imagining a room, and everything is removed from it – the furniture, furnishings and carpets – and it is then painted white. The room can only be painted another colour or items can only be brought back into it if they are fit for purpose. In our context, we asked key questions to determine fit for purpose:

  • What is a medium-term plan?
  • Who is it for?
  • What is its purpose?

‘Form’, as my now deceased father always used to inform me, ‘should always follow function’, and so it did.

What is a Medium-term Plan?

When analysed carefully, planning for learning involves a myriad of considerations about teaching and learning, pupils, their needs, their prior learning, equipment and facilities available, curriculum, content, context, objectives, activities and success criteria, but put quite simply it is the process of deciding what you will teach and how you will teach it. Short-term planning is usually accepted to be one or two lessons, and a medium-term plan is generally accepted to be one or more units of work that consist of learning planned over a number of hours or weeks. In England, this is traditionally a half or a full term consisting of 6–12 weeks.

In 1999, the QCA published a physical education scheme of work for KS1 and 2 and a scheme of work for KS3 and 4. These schemes of work, or long-term plans, consisted of a number of units of year-group-focused medium-term plans for primary, and link, development, intermediate and advanced units for secondary. Many of these units were planned for 12–18 hours. Other countries differ according to their contexts, but medium-term will generally range from 6–24 hours. Even though many definitions describe a medium-term plan as a sequence of learning planned, it is more realistic and appropriate that the plan details the learning expected, and lists possible content and contexts for this to be achieved. Formative assessment practice then informs the teacher about how to order or sequence the learning activities and experiences in order to best meet the outcomes/success criteria. A medium-term plan or unit of work is not a series of pre-planned lessons. Each successive medium-term unit or units planned should be constructed to align to and ‘progress’ learning towards the floor standards.

Who is It For?

A medium-term plan should be written for learners by the teacher. I am genuinely enthused by teachers who approach this positively and attempt to understand the process, rather than ask to be spoon-fed an approach to teaching and learning that has been written by someone else, or worse still, who purchase commercially produced plans and then make no attempt to adapt them to their learners.

The justification for not planning is almost entirely one of time. Teaching and learning will be most effective, however, when teachers themselves have given thought to the learning intentions, content and context, and resulting success criteria. To teach a unit ‘off plan’, a plan that someone else has developed, is akin to buying a property before it is constructed – it is difficult to understand aspects of the design or imagine what it might look like. The process of constructing the plan helps focus a teacher’s thoughts and ideas for their teaching in order to effectively progress each individual pupil’s learning within a group. The planning process is, therefore, by its very nature, a professional learning exercise. Consequently, a medium-term plan is a document written by a teacher for him or herself. As long as what is planned is constructively aligned and gives sufficient information for the teacher to create a picture of learning intended, then this is appropriate. There is no right or wrong way to do this. There are, however, less burdensome ways of doing it. If a unit of work has been provided by the school or department, it should be flexible enough for the teacher to think through the process, make adaptations and take ownership.

What is Its Purpose?

The purpose of ‘planning’ a medium-term plan comprises several aspects:

  • To outline the learning intended in order to build on and/or support prior learning.
  • To provide opportunity for teachers to clarify their thoughts and think deeply about teaching and learning.
  • To allow time for the teacher to ‘assess’ any equipment, resources, financial, safety or professional learning

implications of teaching the unit to reach the expected learning for all pupils.

  • To plan effective assessment strategies (see Section 5).
  • To monitor effective teaching in terms of pupil engagement and progress in achieving the unit outcomes.


Andrew Frapwell is the Association for Physical Education (afPE) National Lead for Assessment.

‘The big one’ is coming! Assessment and evidence-based practice

 The big one!

The phrase ‘the big one’ is often used to refer to the next big thing, or a big disaster. It has been used to describe a Blackpool Pleasure Beach roller coaster and as a Comic Relief slogan for Red Nose day. It has also been used to describe earthquakes and a crash involving 5 or more cars in NASCAR racing.

An obsession with labelling differential performance in schools, superficial teaching to a level, statement or test has resulted in a plateau in standards illustrated pertinently with worryingly low scores on 6+ mark GCSE questions that require candidates to demonstrate a depth of understanding. Legislation in 2013 revoked the use of levels amidst research evidence that revealed increased stress levels and ‘learned helplessness’ for learners at all stages. Unfortunately despite such evidence, the large majority of the profession has reinvented their own levels subscribing to practice that can only be described as: “Assessing without levels – using levels!” 

Will the our ‘next’ assessment practice be ‘the big one’ in terms of a disaster or an exhilarating journey to success?

Evidence-based practice

In recent years, research from Education Studies has provided us with the ‘science’ that can help to give us direction in our teaching. Research has highlighted ways of doing things that work. Hattie’s meta-analysis of 500,000+ research studies over a 15 year period relating to pupil achievement highlights how we can make a difference. Research into assessment practice informs us there are key features that should make up our assessment practice yet these are being disregarded by too many secondary schools in their concern for converting every bit of progress a learner makes into a number or a grade. This misdirected practice is particularly concerning in core physical education where 9-1 grade descriptors are made up by teachers and employed to label differential performance. Misdirected because these labels are being used to create imaginary flight paths towards GCSE target grades from year 7. Misdirected because no such descriptors exist. Concerning because schools are ignoring evidence based guidance including from Ofqual.

The elephant in the room – understanding assessment layers

The analogy of a sprinter relating to assessment layers is used to highlight the different layers of assessment we employ in the school system.

  1. The setting of a goal that has as its outcome the winning of an Olympic Gold medal at 100m is analogous to setting a goal in High-stakes assessments. Typically in a school system these are standardised tests or regulated examinations used to calculate Progress 8 scores for the purposes of accountability. “High stakes” means that important decisions about pupils, teachers and schools, are based on the scores achieved on a high-stakes test / examination. Scores may also affect publicity, league tables, next steps, funding etc.
  2. A performance goal to run under 10 seconds is analogous to summative assessment often in the form of a ‘test’. In practising to run under 10 seconds a sprinter might periodically race over 100m or run a time trial. In schools this method of practising or ‘testing’ is often overused and over-emphasised and all teaching and learning becomes about performance on ‘the test’. The term ‘teaching to the test’ is often used to label this limited approach. “You don’t fatten a pig for market by constantly weighing it”
  3. The process or learning goals are all of the formative things required to improve performance in order to run under 10 seconds in order to win an Olympic Gold medal in the 100m. This might include: developing technical skills; improving strength, flexibility and mobility; balanced nutrition; work-life-training balance; methods of training; regular training; enjoying cooperating and competing; developing tournament tactics; rest and recovery etc. If we select improving strength from the list as an example, then we would expect any strength gains to potentially contribute to a faster time. The measure used to indicate improved strength, however is incompatible with the measure used to time the sprint or whether this will result in a gold medal. The use of common numerical scores for formative assessment, summative assessment and high stakes testing (each layer of assessment), is something therefore that cannot coexist.

Assessment approaches – a comparison

Standards-referenced or a labelling assessment approach (levels/grades)

Deep learning or standards-based assessment approach – growth mindset

  1. Tests, homework, projects, activities – each piece of work is ‘graded’.
  2. Progression focus is on the next task or topic planned to be covered or the next separate unit activity.
  3. Learning objectives planned and ‘achieved’ separately in each lesson.
  4. Assessment tasks linked to superficial hierarchical statements describing skills, and are often taught as one isolated skill per week.
  5. Percentage system e.g. 6/10 converted to 60% and the overall percentage range converted to a pre-determined grade.
  6. Mix of achievement & effort/behaviour assessments to determine overall grade – penalties and credit applied by teachers.
  7. Everything is graded regardless of purpose.
  8. Grades/scores are given. No matter when they are collected and an average is calculated.
  1. Based on progress in learning standards overtime, as well as performance standards – informs future planning and teaching.
  2. Progression focused on greater depth in learning.
  3. Learning objectives planned and achieved over several lessons and across contexts.
  4. Assessment tasks allow all learners access to deep learning.
  5. Criterion-referenced standards – all pupils expected to achieve overtime.
  6. Achievement measures separate from learning behaviour measures – no penalties or credit applied by teachers.
  7. Selected assessments (strategically planned and using a variety of methods) used for judgement against standards (emerging, expected, working at greater depth).
  8. Most recent evidence is used when judging standards.

The big one – assessment course

Friday 8th December 2017 is a key date in taking the first steps towards reforming assessment practice that works for you and your pupils. Reduce your administration, reinvigorate your teaching and raise standards in physical education using a standards-based approach referencing national curriculum standards.

Duration: 09:00hrs for a 09:30hrs start and a 16:00hrs finish.

Inclusive of: Two-course luncheon, unlimited refreshments, colour bound booklet and a 2GB USB containing 80+ documents.

Venue: The course is hosted at the Stables Business Centre, Walnut Tree House, Astwood Lane, Wychbold, Worcestershire WR9 0BU. Click here for map.


The cost of attendance is £190+vat for PE teachers, however if you bring a member of your Senior Leadership Team (SLT) or someone senior responsible for assessment policy then they attend for FREE.

About the Tutor:

Andrew Frapwell is an award winning national tutor. He is the Association for Physical Education’s National Lead for Assessment, an Ofqual registered subject expert for PE and is the author of “A Practical Guide to Assessing without Levels”.

Contact Andrew at: andrew@afTLC.com to register for a place on the course or on: 07803 603450 for more information.

How do we use PE & Sport Premium to achieve beyond age related expectations?


On 31st October 2017 all state primary schools received 7/12 of their PE & Sport funding allocation, which this year amounts to £16,000 per school and an additional payment of £10 per pupil for schools with 17 or more eligible pupils. The Department for Education (DfE) require schools to use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport they offer. The use of premium monies must develop or add to the PE and sport activities already offered and must build capacity and capability within the school to ensure that improvements made will continue to benefit or impact on pupils in future years.

The current problem with sustainability and impact

Ofsted assess how primary schools use the primary PE and sport premium by measuring its impact on pupil outcomes. Too many schools, however do not know the impact on pupil outcomes of the monies they spend. School case studies posted on websites rarely move beyond a focus that describes the use of the monies, lists additional activities that have been organised, or states the number of additional pupils who now participate in school clubs for example. The case studies do not focus on improved outcomes.

What should schools do?

DfE list several examples of how schools should spend their monies (more…)

How do we use the National Curriculum Physical Education Programme of Study for (NCPE PoS) as a reference point to design a physical education programme that supports inclusive mastery learning?

The NCPE PoS (2013) specifies not only the range of contexts and to some degree the content, but it also specifies the criteria for assessment. It is a minimum entitlement. In planning an appropriate PE programme for all learners, teachers will set objectives, select content, learning tasks and activities, and then select teaching methods and resources, all of which should promote deep or mastery learning.


One thing is certain; teachers must take ownership for designing the curriculum as the NCPE is not specified in six activity areas or range of content as previously. The old frameworks are inappropriate, not least because they outlined content, but also because the PoS content was largely ignored and schools taught to the levels. All too typically activities or content were arranged in half-term blocks, and a ‘one-skill per week’ approach was embraced, which was not and is still not in any way conducive to learners engaging in deep learning of skills or concepts. If we are to raise learner’s knowledge and understanding of key skills, essential knowledge and concepts, and vital behaviours, then we need to have a clear idea of what these skills, concepts and behaviours are and look like, and then develop coherent and continuous learning opportunity that allows children to progress by embedding learning at each key stage.


So, where do we start?

The NCPE PoS provides a reference point for our planning. The new PE PoS outlines ‘that which is to be taught’ with ‘that which is to be assessed’. This is different to previously where the PE PoS and the attainment target were a separate entity. The attainment target or the standard expected at each key stage is currently written integral to the PE PoS.  The standard expected therefore, becomes the point that we plan backwards from. We start with the end in mind. We are clear about our intended destination.


What next?

The next consideration should be the learners themselves and their starting points, followed by the development of key learning intentions and associated success criteria. This learning should be sequenced, ‘scaffolded’ and combined so that learning is progressive, continuous and coherent. The duration and order of activities should be carefully considered so that learning can be mastered. Finally, we need to effectively articulate tasks to all learners in ways that key intentions are understood and mastered.


Effective curriculum design focuses on learning and the learner rather than planning learning unthinkingly around content delivered in half-term blocks, ‘because we’ve always done it that way’. An effective curriculum design approach is one that is continuously evolving around learners needs. It is about curriculum, assessment, teaching and learning.  This interrelationship can promote engagement and understanding, rather than just knowledge and recall. Understanding, simply defined, is knowledge that is operant. Curriculum design that promotes deep learning, that promotes mastery, that promotes understanding, is essential in realising NCPE PoS aims. Knowledge of physical activity, knowledge of healthy active lifestyles, is not the same as knowledge that is operant, or engaging in regular physical activity as part of a healthy active lifestyle.


The national curriculum provides an exciting opportunity for schools to think deeply about how they organise their Physical Education programmes.


Curriculum design for mastery learning courses, hosted by afTLC Ltd to support you in raising standards are scheduled for:

Friday 5th October 2018, Wychbold, Worcestershire

Issues with ‘I can’ statements

Are we there yet?: Standards based assessment for mastery learning in physical education – issues with ‘I can’ statements.  

When working with primary schools or running primary assessment courses since level descriptors were removed from the system, I have become increasingly concerned at the number of schools continuing to use or starting to use ‘I can’ statements.  Not only does this approach increase teacher workload, potentially prevent a growth mind set for children, and create what is essentially a checklist, but it also totally ignores the complexity and interconnected nature of learning.

The system approach to assessment and curriculum has transformed, yet teacher practice has not yet moved away from its previous practice.  In order to address this state of affairs I wish to confront poor or limiting practice.  When my three children were younger and we travelled for any length of time in the car, they would continuously ask “Are we there yet?” Years later, they see the journey as part of the excursion or holiday and very much part of the process. It is a focus on the journey or assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process that leads to greater progress and higher standards, not a sole focus on the destination. Are we there yet with assessment practice in PE?  ‘I can’ state… Nooooooo!

Curriculum transformation

Part of the rationale for curriculum transformation was to improve our performance from the standards plateau that as a country we found ourselves experiencing, and reduce the burden of administration for teachers, especially around assessment practice.  The reformed National Curriculum has been developed around a mastery or standards-based approach which has meant refocusing on less content but in greater depth, and moving learners on only when they have mastered a skill or a concept. Part of the rationale for the removal of levels from the system measure was for teachers not to feel so pressurised to constantly race through a level, but to spend time deepening and embedding learning.  Viewed in this way, learning and progress become more than just a linear or ladder approach, progress becomes 4 dimensional.  The new standards developed (for physical education and other ‘foundation’ subjects) are key stage standards.  The national expectation set is that all learners should ‘Master’ these new standards.  In planning to meet these new key stage ‘threshold’ or floor standards, teachers are expected to work back from the standard and ‘scaffold’ or plan progressive learning overtime – two years in key stage 1 and four years in key stage 2.

Part of the issue in physical education was that the transformation away from ‘content and coverage’ (6 activity areas) to learners and their (mastery) learning, was that primary PE teachers required more extensive subject knowledge than their training or experience had provided. Many did not (and still do not) feel confident to plan learning progressively and respond to learners’ needs, as opposed to following rigid set lesson by lesson plans, where assessment for learning becomes redundant. PE and Sport Premium funding is being used to address this knowledge deficit gap, but until it does the issue remains – how can we plan for mastery in PE, then teach for mastery, before we then assess for mastery, when we don’t have a grasp of what mastery looks like?

Teacher workload

So how does teacher practice manifest itself when there is a lack of subject knowledge within the system? With a plethora of meaningless checklists to somehow prove that assessment is taking place is the frank answer. Teachers and more frequently commercial companies, have attempted to deconstruct the standards into statements or targets that are hierarchical.  This series of checklists for each taught activity in PE, are too often written as ‘I can’ statements. The issue with such statements are that they are superficial and disconnected from each other.  This ‘tick box’ culture is something that led Ofsted (2007) in its report on ‘Reforming and developing the school workforce’ to pose the question in the ‘Time for Standards’ section: Ticking boxes or improving learning?” A ‘tracking’ resource I reviewed recently, listed a range of activities and a hierarchical range of ‘I can’ statements for each activity.  When the number of formal decisions a class teacher would have to make during the year is calculated (assuming 30 in the class, 12 x 6 hour units of work and an average of 9 statements per activity, with a Likert 1-5 point scale for each statement) it amounts to 16,200!

Constructing a curriculum offer that meets learners’ needs should be something that is informed and driven by assessment information for learning against standards – and this is certainly not the practice of following a commercial scheme of work for PE in a Lemming-like fashion word for word. Learning outcomes and success criteria are very much part of the process of planning.  These are our short and medium-term targets, so why create an additional statemented administrative layer with excel spreadsheets or similar?

You need to…

Another issue with ‘I can’ is that often children can’t. In physical education where performance is growth related, some children in a class will be nearly 12 months younger and therefore less developed than other children. This situation is exacerbated when assessment points are too frequent.  Some children can and some children can’t.  The issue in primary (and often secondary) PE, is that it doesn’t matter whether children can or can’t, if it is the end of a half-term block then the activity and learning focus will change anyway! This creates a disconnect between ‘that which has been taught’ and ‘that which has been learnt’. In other words gaps in learning (or statements left unchecked) are not addressed because a different activity is taught with different statements. If practice is actually focused on mastery learning, and activities are seen as the vehicle for learning, then the duration of learning blocks should be considered and the use of assessment information to set targets for learners should be integral to this process.  “You need to” becomes a far better approach than using ‘I can’ because it promotes an ‘improving’ rather than a ‘proving’ approach for both children and teachers who engage in thinking about learning and how to improve.  ‘What do you need to do to improve your balance?’, versus ‘Can you balance on one leg for 3 seconds?’!  The targets, in this example, about how to balance, become personalised and progressive to children understanding what balance is, what moving versus static balance is, how strength and flexibility are important in achieving balance, and the interrelated attributes of agility and coordination – this is the learning journey. The interconnected complexity of learning becomes transparent and the contrast between a growth mind set and a closed mind set is obvious. Which is easier? Yes you’ve already guessed – tick a box!

Learning Complexity

As a principal lecturer for PE initial teacher training at the University of Worcester in the 1990’s, we used to use competency statements.  Tutors would tick off statements when trainee teachers demonstrated that they had met the competency.  The problem was, a trainee could have all statements checked, but still be a poor teacher.  The next year the Teacher Training Agency introduced standards, and this meant trainees had to provide reflective documentation that demonstrated they understood the interconnected nature of learning and teaching.  Statements were invalid, unreliable and insufficient for the purposes of assessment.  Any good teacher will understand that performance is made up of a number of interconnected aspects, including (but not limited to) the application of skill, thinking and decision-making, psychological factors and physical attributes including fitness.

We must move away from the checklist mentality of learning and think about learning as progressive and where learning targets are constantly revisited.  It is the process (journey) targets that are important for it is a focus on the processes that deliver the results, rather than the results themselves that drive learning and progress. CPD is required that develops teacher expertise in this respect, so that in 2020 if the PE and Sport Premium is discontinued we will have built knowledge capacity and capability for sustainability within the system and ticking boxes will be a thing of the past.  Are we there yet? Hopefully reading and responding to this ‘call to action’ leads us on track. We’re getting there!

We run our Standards-Based Assessment For Mastery Learning course regularly through the school year. We are based at The Stables Business Centre, Worcestershire, but also run courses in Liverpool, Manchester and London. Contact andrew@afTLC.com or call 07803 603450 for details of courses. Andrew is the Association for Physical Education’s national lead on curriculum and assessment.

The course costs £190+VAT and includes two-course luncheon and unlimited tea and coffee.  It also includes a colour bound course booklet and a 2GB memory stick with background documents and the PowerPoint used and course certification.

ALSO – Receive a 50% discount off A Practical Guide to Assessing Without Levelsworth £12.50 or a reduction from your course fee.


Uninformed use of 9-1 flight paths for assessment

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – uninformed use of 9-1 flight paths for assessment

Secondary Schools that are using 9-1 GCSE summative grades to somehow demonstrate progress against curriculum standards through key stages 3 and 4 are deluded.

This is just a copycat approach to the previous system of National Curriculum Attainment targets and level descriptors. Flight paths were a phenomena developed when levels were central to the system and FFT estimates. This system was flawed and the reason why legislation removed levels from the system. Companies were tasked to develop a more equitable system measure. Progress 8 is not based on the use of levels so to return to flight paths based on 9-1 labelling is like trying to plug an analogue TV into a digital feed and expecting it to work!

“There is overwhelming evidence that levels needed to go and the Commission strongly endorses the decision to remove them. However, the system has been so conditioned by levels that there is considerable challenge in moving away from them. We have been concerned by evidence that some schools are trying to recreate levels based on the new national curriculum. Unless this is addressed, we run the risk of failing to put in place the conditions for a higher-attaining, higher-equity system.”

(Government Commission on Assessing without Levels 2015).

The use of 9-1 cannot be used to somehow track progress from year 7 because the reformed GCSE’s are designed to be a 2 year course starting in year 10.  In physical education for example core PE is 100% practical. The GCSE PE qualification which started in September 2016 is 60% assessed by exam and 40% NEA. The two don’t equate – analogue and digital again! To indicate that a year 7 pupil is currently performing at a 1 or a 2 when they have not started on the GCSE specification therefore is a waste of teacher admin time and increases meaningless workload especially at a period when workload is an issue.

In fact Ofqual, have developed grade descriptors for the reformed GCSEs to assist teachers when using the specification to plan learning by providing an indication of the likely level of performance at grades 2, 5 and 8. The purpose of these grade descriptors is to give an indication of average performance at the mid-points of grades 2, 5 and 8. Even Ofqual categorically state that “The descriptors are not designed to be used for awarding purposes, unlike the ‘grade descriptions’ that apply to legacy GCSEs graded A* to G.”  It appears that when guidance is offered to a highly qualified and experienced profession it is ignored!

What is very easy to do, however is to map key language from the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Physical Education as a reference point to the average performance descriptors for GCSE. We can make an informed professional judgement as to whether pupils are on track or otherwise to meet the physical education curriculum thresholds and where our assessment has identified any gaps do our utmost to support learners to close them. This ensures that the essential knowledge and key skills – the foundations for better grades when the specification for GCSE PE is finally followed – are mastered. This is different to professional practice that demonstrates an obsession to convert every bit of progress a learner makes into a number or a grade for internal records and reporting to parents and different to providing a 9-1 level in key stage 3 when the GCSE course is not even being engaged with.

One of the criticisms of levelling was that it labelled differential performance and did not encourage a growth mindset. There is a huge rhetoric reality gap between stating ‘we want to encourage a growth mindset’ and then using an approach that doesn’t encourage it! Learning isn’t linear and therefore a measure and practice that attempts to recognise progress in learning as linear and hierarchical is not fit for purpose and in many cases is demoralising for pupils!  This point is exacerbated when schools spend thousands of pounds on commercial tracking systems (please note this is not an assessment system), which then drives their assessment practice. A case of the tail wagging the assessment and learning dog! Assessment approaches are often driven by the commercial tracking resource to produce ‘proving’ data and not ‘improving’ assessment information.  Best practice methods as part of effective assessment systems are often disconnected from tracking systems that require precious time inputting data, that could be better used for planning, teaching and learning.

The Government Commission on Assessment recommended expressing outcomes in curriculum terms and the CIF (OFSTED 2015) even uses the term ‘Assessment information in the place of ‘data’ and then Sean Harford (National Director, Education – responsible for leading inspection policy and guidance) and John Mackintosh (John McIntosh CBE, Chairman of the Government commission on assessment and a former headmaster of the London Oratory School) appear on two videos sharing a message with schools saying that Ofsted inspectors do not want to see data spreadsheets developed from the use of numbers – rather they wish to see how schools use assessment information.

In terms of Mastery learning the profession has somewhat misunderstood the use of the term. Mastery is the expected inclusive standard. Many schools use the terms “emergent” “expected” and “exceeding”. Mastery is the expected standard for all, not something that is only achievable for a select few.  Everything we know about childhood growth and development and the performance of other high performing jurisdictions indicate that we can expect mastery for all against the new standards unless children are SEN or disabled. Yes, work back from the new curriculum thresholds but there is no defined linear route to them, therefore we should not attempt to capture this new progress using a reinvention of meaningless labelling.

Fischer Family Trust (FFT) started in 2001 with 55 Local Authorities. In 2004 all LAs were involved using FFT data. Type D Estimates (95% accurate in Eng & Maths within one estimated grade) didn’t emerge until there was sufficient ‘data’ in the system some 7 years after descriptive statistics were introduced. In ‘foundation’ subjects like PE this was as low as only 70% accurate within one estimated grade. SATS are tests in the core subjects – is it any wonder that in other subjects estimates were 30% inaccurate? Any statistician will tell you that using data that is 30% inaccurate is a total waste of time…. Yet here we go again – plus c’est la même chose – despite the legislative changes, with a re-creation of a previously data obsessed administrative rich standards plateauing system which the removal of levels had attempted to avoid!

Sign up for our Standards-Based Assessment for Mastery Learning in Physical Education running on Wednesday 28th June 2017

Paediatric First Aid Update

Following on from the Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation on Paediatric First Aid requirements for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) staff, the Level 3 Paediatric First Aid qualifications have been updated.

There have been some changes to Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria of the two units.  We are developing our scheme of work to ensure that the assessments meet the updated assessment criteria.

One of the key changes is that CPR now includes “correct placement of AED pads” and “follows AED instructions.”  We are developing our training units and clothing our manikins!

The new specification and qualification documents will be used for all our courses from 1 January 2017.

An updated paediatric first aid manual and course PowerPoint slides will be available to all course attendees.

The DfE guidance for EYFS requirements for Paediatric First Aid is still as yet, unpublished.  As soon as it is published we will make you aware.  The government response to the EYFS consolation can be found on the .GOV website.

Please contact our office 01905 886325 or isabelle@afTLC.com if you have any questions, would like to discuss any of the changes highlighted here or are interested in booking a course.

Use of the PE and sport premium for staff training

Use of the PE and sport premium for staff training – SLUK Level 5 Primary PE Specialism / Level 6 Subject Leadership

View the course details >

The results of a two year research programme was published last year into the use of PE and Sport Premium monies.

Schools welcomed the introduction of the PE and sport premium, reporting that the funds made available across 2013/14 and 2014/15 had increased the school focus on curricular and extra-curricular provision and had provided new opportunities to increase the quality of PE and sport provision in primary schools.

The premium has enabled schools to enhance both the quality and range of PE teaching and sports provision. As a result of this investment, schools reported a range of positive impacts on pupils including increased pupil engagement and participation in PE and sports as well as impacts on social and inter-personal skills, behaviour, and PE skills and fitness.

Schools also perceived positive impacts on the skills and confidence of teachers to deliver PE.

The findings of this study have also highlighted challenges for the future of PE and sport in primary schools. To sustain the impact of the premium, schools have used it to invest in training for existing staff.

However, a question remains over how to maintain this investment in CPD for new teachers entering the profession, once premium funding ends. Schools also raised issues related to sourcing good quality provision in their local area, and may need further support to robustly assess the quality of the provision available. The survey also found that monitoring and evaluation of the premium was not consistent and schools may require further advice and guidance to support them to first assess impacts and then put in place strategies for continuing quality improvement.

(The PE and sport premium: an investigation in primary schools Research report: November 2015)

How to use the PE and sport premium

Schools must use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport they offer.

This means that you should use the premium to:

  • develop or add to the PE and sport activities that your school already offers
  • make improvements now that will benefit pupils joining the school in future years

For example, you can use your funding to:

  • hire qualified sports coaches to work with teachers
  • provide existing staff with training or resources to help them teach PE and sport more effectively (e.g. Sports Leaders UK Level 5 Primary PE Specialism Certificate / Level 6 Subject Leadership Award).  The Level 5/6 qualifications have previously received endorsement from Edward Timpson MP when Minister for Children and Families at an Association for Physical Education Conference: “The Level 5/6 qualifications are already giving generalist teachers the chance to specialise on the job… That’s great news.”
  • introduce new sports or activities and encourage more pupils to take up sport
  • support and involve the least active children by running or extending school sports clubs, holiday clubs and Change4Lifeclubs
  • run sport competitions
  • increase pupils’ participation in the School Games
  • run sports activities with other schools

You should not use your funding to:

  • employ coaches or specialist teachers to cover planning preparation and assessment (PPA) arrangements – these should come out of your core staffing budgets
  • teach the minimum requirements of the national curriculum – including those specified for swimming (or, in the case of academies and free schools, to teach your existing PE curriculum)

If your school receives PE (physical education) and sport premium funding, you must publish:

  • how much funding you received
  • a full breakdown of how you’ve spent the funding or will spend the funding
  • the effect of the premium on pupils’ PE and sport participation and attainment
  • how you’ll make sure these improvements are sustainable

Lest we forget

The importance of subject leadership and use of assessment information: The Somme, July 1st 1916

  • 11 Divisions of the British Army Attack along a 25 mile front following 7 day artillery barrage
  • Few gains made with most Units back at their start by the end of the day
  • 60,000 casualties on this day including 20,000 deaths
  • Worst ever tragedy in history of British Army


Lessons learnt by the British Army on The Somme?


  • Rigid plan to be executed come what may
  • Strict timetable to be adhered to
  • Inflexible decision-making;
  • Carried out by unimaginative generals
  • Often a long distance behind the attacking front line
  • (Mis)informed by poor communications


  • Decision-making power granted down the chain of command to meet the needs of each situation as it arose
  • Initial plans provided outline for attacks
  • Outline timetable allowed for flexibility
  • Details ‘filled in’ by those ‘at the front’
  • Flexible, ‘on the spot’ proactive and reactive decisions made – determined by course of events

Standards-based Assessment for Mastery Learning in Physical Education course

This standards-based assessment course in Physical Education is being run on:

Friday 12th May 2017 – Droylsden, Manchester

Friday 19th May 2017 – Garston, Liverpool

Wednesday 28th June 2017 – Wychbold, Worcestershire

Friday 30th June 2017 – Epsom, London


The cost is only £190+vat and you will also receive 50% off afPE assessment book available to purchase for £12.50 or £12.50 course fee reduction if you already have the book

Also included is a colour bound booklet with a 2GB USB (containing 70+ files), lunch and refreshments.


This course will answer the following questions:

  • Why were levels removed?
  • Why shouldn’t we reinvent our own levels?
  • What are the different functions of and theory behind system measures, summative assessment and formative assessment?
  • What is the difference between ‘judging’ activities and ‘judging’ learning, progress and standards in Physical Education?
  • Why are ‘I can’ statements and use of 9-1 grading systems to assess and track pupils’ progress in core PE a waste of our precious time?
  • How do we achieve more progress, higher standards and more inclusive practice in PE?
  • How do we evidence progress in Physical Education?
  • How do we reduce the administrative burden of assessment in PE?
  • What is mastery curriculum, mastery teaching and learning and mastery assessment in a Physical Education context?
  • What assessment practice does Ofsted look for?

Standards-based education

In education, the term standards-based refers to systems of planning, teaching, assessment and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding or mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. In a school that uses standards-based approaches to educating students, learning standards—i.e., what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education—determine the objectives and outcomes of a lesson or unit, and teachers then determine how and what to teach students so they achieve the learning expectations described in the standards.

In English state schools, a standards-based national curriculum was introduced on the 1st September 2014.  Deep learning or ‘mastery’ is something that is expected for all learners, and to achieve this we must first design and plan a curriculum that allows for mastery, before we can teach for mastery and before we then develop an assessment system that is fit for an inclusive mastery purpose. The Programmes of Study for all subjects have been slimmed down to promote less content in greater depth and a focus on key skills, essential knowledge and concepts and vital behaviours that we can expect all learners to master by the end of the various key stages.  The removal of levels from the system was intended to ensure a child-centred standards-based improving approach that drives transformational change.


In most cases, ‘standards-based learning’, ‘standards-based instruction’ (teaching), or ‘standards-based education’ (and other similar terms), are synonyms for ‘proficiency-based learning’ or ‘competency-based learning’ (two terms that are themselves synonymous). Defining standards-based learning is further complicated by the fact that educators not only use a wide variety of terms for the general approach, but the terms may or may not be used synonymously from place to place. A few of the other common synonyms include mastery-based, outcome-based, and performance-based education, instruction, or learning, among others.

Standards referenced or standards based.

One of the things we will need to be clear about is whether we are moving to a ‘standards referenced’ or ‘standards based’ approach.  What is the difference?

In a standards-referenced approach we plan and teach a standards-referenced curriculum and may administer an assessment in the form of a written test.  A student may score 75% on the test and similar marks on future tests. This can be averaged out and at the end of a year for any given group, there could be a range of individual percentages from 45% to 85% which might be grade banded.  An issue with this approach is that a student with an average score of 75% has not mastered 25% of the standard and because of the average it is unclear as to what they should be targeting.

In a standards-based approach mastery is expected and students do not move on until they can demonstrate the full standard.  In a test this would mean attaining 100%.  In a physical education setting, this would mean demonstrating the application of a skill, a concept or a behaviour in a number of different activities a majority of the time (in a competitive games situation for example students are unlikely to attain perfection).