How do we use the National Curriculum Physical Education Programme of Study for (NCPE PoS)

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