Head of Department

Miss S L GreenwoodBA


The academic Physical Education department at Cranleigh offers GCSE PE in Years 10 and 11; this qualification leads well to either of the two courses on offer in the Sixth Form: A Level Physical Education, and the BTEC Extended Certificate in Sport, which is equivalent to one A Level.

The theoretical components of all of these courses are delivered by specialist academic PE teachers who have a vast range of experience. All three courses also include a practical component and many of the pupils who take these courses have reached high standards in one or more of our school sports. These academic qualifications can complement the pupils’ understanding of the physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of their performance, as well as, in the Sixth Form, preparing them for work in the sport/leisure industry. The practical element of all courses is delivered primarily in school games session by the expert coaches in each sport.


The OCR GCSE in Physical Education which we offer has a 60/40 percent split between theory and practical assessment. The combination of physical performance and academic challenge provides an exciting opportunity for the pupils at Cranleigh. The course is designed to equip students with the knowledge, understanding and skills to develop their own performance in sport, as well as develop their understanding of sociocultural influences on participation in sport and the the benefits of physical activity to health, fitness and well-being. GCSE PE includes the compulsory study of: Applied Anatomy and Physiology, Physical Training, Sports Psychology, Socio-cultural Influences and Health, Fitness and Well-being. Students perform, and then through academic study, learn how to improve their performance through the application of the theory. They learn the reasons why athletes do certain things in sport and why some out-perform others – both mentally and physically. They also delve into the ethical considerations behind the use of drugs in sport and gain an understanding of the consequences of inactivity and poor diet.

Alongside the theory are the practical skills of PE, these are examined via the Non Exam Assessment (NEA) component; students will perform in three different sports, as well as completing an analysis and evaluation task which culminates in the students preparing an action plan to improve their skills and fitness levels.

The GCSE PE course is ideal for students who want to go on to study A Level Physical Education or BTEC Extended Certificate in Sport (equivalent to one A level ), and/or move on into higher education or any career for which an understanding of the human body or human behaviour is desirable.

Upper School (A Level)

This course is well suited to pupils who, not only play sport to school level or above, but also have an interest in the wider aspects of sport and physical activity. We follow the OCR Physical Education course which has a 70/30 split between theory and practical. The theory side of the course is split into three components:

Component 1: Physiological Factors Affecting Performance

This group of topics focuses on key systems of the human body involved in movement and physical activity. You will develop their knowledge and understanding of the changes within these body systems prior to exercise, during exercise of differing intensities, and during recovery. Application of this theoretical knowledge will enable you to understand how changes in physiological states can influence performance in physical activities and sport. You will be expected to be able to interpret data and graphs relating to changes in these body systems during exercise of differing intensities and during recovery. The assessment for this component is in the form of a two-hour written examination at the end of the Upper Sixth year.

Component 2: Psychological Factors Affecting Performance

This component focuses on the psychological factors affecting physical activities and sports, including: models and theories that affect learning and performance in physical activities; how different methods of training and feedback work and why their effectiveness differs from person to person; group dynamics and the effects of leadership and stress on performers. Through the study of this component you will gain a deeper understanding of the underlying psychological factors that influence our performance in physical activity and sport. You will learn how to apply the theories to practical examples, giving guidance and feedback in constructive ways that are suited to that individual’s personality; therefore assisting in developing practical performance in physical activities and sports. The assessment for this component is in the form of a one-hour written examination at the end of the Upper Sixth year.

Component 3: Socio-cultural and Contemporary Issues

This component focuses on the sociological and contemporary factors that influence and affect physical activity and sport for both the audience and the performer and how sport affects society. It includes the emergence and evolution of modern sport and how social and cultural factors shaped the characteristics of sports and pastimes in pre-industrial and post-industrial Britain. The impact of the modern Olympic Games will be studied as well as the impact on society of hosting global sporting events. The ever-evolving modern technology and its influence on sport performers and spectators will be researched and practical examples will be used by candidates to show the effect of modern technology. The assessment for this component is in the form of a one-hour written examination at the end of the Upper Sixth year.

The practical side of the course (which makes up 30% of the final mark) involves performance or coaching of one sport or activity alongside Evaluation and Analysis of Performance for Improvement (EAPI) of that sport or activity. For the EAPI candidates give a verbal response to a performance of a peer which should identify and justify the major area of weakness within the performance to prioritise for improvement and propose a long term (2-3 months) development plan to improve the area of performance identified.

As you can see the content of the A2 course is wide ranging and interesting, and is certainly not an ‘easy’ A Level as we are often lead to believe in the press. The time spent in the classroom is the same as for all other subjects as we do all the practical assessment in school games sessions. A number of our students have gone on to follow courses in Sports Science, Sports Coaching or Leisure Management at university.


This course is well suited to pupils who, not only play sport to school level or above, but also have an interest in the wider aspects of sport and physical activity and may wish to pursue a career in the sport/leisure industry. We follow the Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate in Sport course (which is equivalent to one A Level). The course is examined primarily by on-going coursework style assessments, there is one external exam. The practical assessment makes up 17% of the final mark. The theory side of the course is split into three components:

Component 1: Anatomy and Physiology

In this unit you will explore the structure of the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory and energy systems as well as additional factors which affect sport and exercise performance. The anatomy and physiology of each body system and their processes are very different but work together to produce movement. You will gain a full appreciation of how the body is able to take part in sport and exercise through understanding the interrelationships between these body systems. This unit will give you the detailed core knowledge required to progress to coaching and instruction in the sports industry or further study.

The assessment for this component is in the form of a 1½ hour written examination at the end of the Upper Sixth year.

Component 2: Fitness Training and Programming for Health, Sport and Well-being

In this unit, you will explore the processes required in the health and fitness industry for screening clients and assessing their lifestyle and nutritional intake. You will learn how to interpret this information and explore how to make judgements on a specific individual’s current lifestyle and then suggest modifications to help improve the individual’s fitness, health and overall well-being. Fitness training methods will be examined for each component of physical and skill-related fitness. The selection of appropriate training methods for a selected individual and their application into a training programme will then be explored. In this unit, you will draw on your learning from across your programme to complete the assessment task.

The assessment for this component is in the form of an externally set and externally marked task taken in the Lent term of the Upper Sixth year.

Component 3: Professional Development in the Sports Industry

In this unit, you will research the different possible careers and the associated job roles in the sports industry, then action plan your development towards achieving a selected career aim. You will analyse your own skills and identify how to develop them into a career through the use of a career plan. You will research your chosen career to understand how to access and progress within it. You will take part in application and interview assessment activities for a selected career pathway, drawing on knowledge and skills from across the qualification to identify your own strengths and gaps in knowledge and skills. You will evaluate your own performance to gain an understanding of the generic employability and specific-technical knowledge and skills required to access and progress in a selected career pathway in the sports industry.

The assessment for this component is in the form of internally set and internally marked assignments which are completed throughout the two years of the course.

As you can see the BTEC course contains more vocational elements and less scientific content than the A Level (although still quite a lot) and there are a wider variety of assessment methods. The BTEC course is studied alongside two A Levels and prepares students for Higher Education courses in a range of sport-related subjects, or to go directly into work in the sport/leisure industry.

Trips and events

Each year we take the Upper Sixth Form students to the Surrey Human Performance labs at Surrey Sports Park where they have hands on experience of the fitness testing procedures. This work is supported by practical sessions with the school Strength and Conditioning coach.

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