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National Curriculum

Planning and assessment in physical education


Planning across the key stage

The revision of the key stage 4 programme of study provides an opportunity to review and refresh your sequences of work.

Planning in PE needs to ensure that learners:

  • develop a wide range of physical skills that are secure
  • make progress through increasingly complex and demanding tasks
  • understand and can apply the range of concepts that underpin different types of activity
  • make links between different types of physical activity
  • develop their capacity to engage in physical activity.

A coherent curriculum in PE enables learners to make connections between different activities and aspects. It allows them to make progress by moving from simple contexts that make limited technical, strategic, tactical, compositional and physical demands to increasingly complex and challenging contexts. In order to achieve this the curriculum needs to be designed to ensure that:

  • different experiences and types of activity are linked, so that students can recognise and build on what they have already achieved rather than starting all over again
  • expectations of what learners can achieve are raised from one year to the next (for example, completed core tasks from the schemes of work become more challenging from year to year)
  • there are sufficient opportunities to practise and secure physical skills (for example, by taking part in hockey and then cricket so that students develop their striking skills)
  • there are opportunities to learn and compare different concepts so that students become thinking performers (for example, by taking part in gymnastic and then dance activities, and learning to adapt the style and quality of their movements to suit each context)
  • there is a range of opportunities so learners can develop their speed, strength, stamina and suppleness by providing a range of activities that makes demands on each of these aspects.

To achieve this there are two major considerations for the design of the curriculum:

  • how to use time effectively
  • how to provide a range of different types of activities and experiences.

Students need frequent and regular short bursts of sufficiently intense practice to gain physical skills and develop their physical capacity. By contrast, exploring and experimenting with strategies, tactics and compositional principles require less frequent but longer periods of time. An effective curriculum will ensure these principles are taken into account when planning how to use the time available (both in and out of lessons), the range of activities and experiences offered and the way they are sequenced over a term, year and key stage.

You should ensure that students’ learning in PE is supported by a range of out-of-hours school sport. You may find it helpful to design your PE curriculum alongside your school sport programme, so that the two are complementary. Similarly, it is important to consider how to link the curriculum with students’ lives outside school. For example, if students are being taught balance activities in PE, they could be shown how these relate to improving their skateboarding or dance skills. Seeing the relevance of what they are learning is likely to result in greater commitment to PE.

By looking at the broader picture in this way, a curriculum can be developed that will enable students to achieve the high-quality outcomes set out in the national PE and School Sport strategy, as well as the expectations set out in the PE programme of study.

When reviewing planning across the key stage, developing new sequences of work or revising existing ones, you should consider the following.

Where are the opportunities to develop students’ experience of the key concepts?

Planning needs to show how the key concepts are integrated into learning across the key stage. When reviewing planning you should consider carefully which artistic, aesthetic, creative, competitive and challenge-type activities to offer. Students will need to be offered a range of activities that encourage them to:

  • become physically competent and confident young people
  • perform and appreciate performances as individuals, in groups and teams
  • express and communicate ideas, solve problems and overcome challenges in imaginative ways
  • include regular, safe and enjoyable physical activity in their lifestyles.

How can planning ensure that students make progress in the key processes?

Students should have opportunities to produce complete pieces of work involving the key processes of:

  • developing skills in physical activity
  • making and applying decisions
  • developing physical and mental capacity
  • evaluating and improving
  • making informed choices about healthy, active lifestyles.

Students should learn to make connections between the key processes of developing skills, making and applying decisions and developing physical and mental capacity. They should use these skills in increasingly demanding and challenging contexts.

As students revisit the key processes throughout the key stage there needs to be a clear increase in demand to ensure they continue to be challenged and make progress. This could happen through experiencing the key processes in similar activities, different activities or in activities where there are more complex demands placed on performers. For example, increasing the complexity of apparatus layouts; increasing the number of students playing a game; adding more complex moves to sequences and routines; undertaking problem-solving activities in unknown environments. Students should also become more independent in the way they apply these processes when performing individually and in teams and groups.

How can planning ensure you maximise the opportunities provided by the range and content?

There is considerable flexibility for you to choose activities that are engaging and motivating and through which students can make progress in their understanding of the key concepts and their application of the key processes. You are required to provide opportunities for students to experience a broad range of activities but the choice of these activities should reflect their interests. Students should be able to make increasingly independent choices about the activities and roles they pursue.

How can you provide opportunities for students to engage with real audiences?

Students should be given different opportunities to bring together their knowledge and understanding of the key concepts and application of the key processes to perform as an individual, or as a member of a group or team. These opportunities might include: participating in school and local competitions; taking part in festivals; performing to different audiences in school productions or at local community venues; and applying their knowledge of orienteering, cooking and camping to complete an expedition as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

By key stage 4 it is hoped that students will be established members of clubs both in and out of school, or participants in community activities. Throughout key stage 4 students should be able to continue their involvement in these clubs and organisations.

As students develop leadership skills they should use them to work with others, for example volunteering within the community to help make it a better place in which to live and work, or managing, officiating and running festivals, competitions and events in and between schools and in the local community.

Technology offers opportunities to engage in virtual competitions and activities with other audiences internationally by using the internet, email and video conferencing.

Opportunities should also be available for students to be the audience at performances and competitions so that they can appreciate and applaud high-quality performances. This will enable them to experience the enjoyment and pleasure that can be gained as a spectator at sporting occasions or as part of an audience at live performances.

Continuity across key stage

To make good progress students need continuity and opportunities for development across the key stages. To achieve this, curriculum planning at key stage 4 needs to:

  • build on and extend students’ achievements and experiences at key stage 3
  • provide students with a clear sense of how teaching and learning is helping them develop their knowledge, skills and understanding, and what they are aiming to achieve by the end of the key stage
  • prepare students for the demands of further study in the subject or the world of work.

Key stage 3

The PE programme of study for key stage 3 requires students to become increasingly physically competent by:

  • developing the range and quality of their physical skills
  • improving their ability to use tactics, strategies and compositional principles
  • improving their capacity to perform effectively
  • improving their ability to analyse performance and make judgements about what makes a performance successful.

Through the range of activities and variety of roles that students experience, they begin to make informed choices about their own commitment to leading a healthy, active life. They begin to identify the types of activities and roles they prefer and are best suited to. They become more regularly involved in physical activity, including sport and dance, both in extra-curricular provision and through clubs in the community.

By the end of the key stage most students are able to select and combine their skills, techniques and ideas, applying them to different activities with consistent precision, control and fluency. When planning and performing, most draw on their knowledge of strategy, tactics and compositional principles in order to help them work independently, in groups and in teams to achieve success. Most students are able to analyse and comment on their own and others’ work, modifying and refining their skills and techniques to improve their own performance. Most know the types of roles they want to take on and are beginning to express preferences about the types of activities they might pursue both in and out of school.

Key stage 4

Key stage 4 students use skills and techniques in larger and more challenging contexts that involve more participants and require increasingly complex tactics, strategies and compositional principles. Their physical competence is such that they are able to use skills and techniques within these demanding and changing situations that consistently show accuracy, precision, control and originality. They are able to critically analyse performance and demonstrate that they understand how skills, tactics, compositional principles and levels of fitness relate to the quality and effectiveness of a performance.

Students begin to use their understanding of physical competence, high-quality performance and balanced, healthy lifestyles to select the roles and activities they wish to get involved in. They pursue these regularly both in and out of school and participate in local and national sport, dance and healthy physical activity programmes.

New opportunities

The revised programme of study offers you many opportunities to refresh and renew your curriculum, making it broader and more relevant in ways that will inspire and engage learners. Some of the key themes that underpin the revisions include:

Increased flexibility

There is now significant flexibility for schools to tailor courses and experiences to suit different kinds of learners. Some students may benefit from spending more time developing the key processes, acquiring and developing skills and using them in less demanding situations. They may do this through a limited range of activities. Other students may wish to challenge themselves to apply the key processes in new and more demanding activities that challenge their understanding of the key concepts of competence, creativity and performance.

Increased choice

Schools are now free to select the activities through which they will engage their young people with the key concepts and key processes. This has been done to allow for the selection of activities that most suit the aspirations and preferences of your students and through which you will be able to challenge and inspire them.

Changing the way activities are categorised has significantly increased the range of activities and opportunities available. Students can engage in the wide range of exciting and motivating activities that are now available to them and in which some of them choose to participate in their free time, for example skateboarding, mountain biking, street dancing, karate.

A broader range of roles

The revised programme of study provides opportunities for students to develop skills in a wider range of contexts as leaders and officials as well as performers. This offers students more choice and greater scope to get involved in physical activity, sport and dance both in school clubs and in the community.

A curriculum that contributes to healthy lifestyles

An additional opportunity focuses on developing students’ understanding of the important contribution physical activity can make to the healthy functioning of the body and mind and its place as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. This provides opportunities to work across the curriculum with subjects such as science, food technology and PSHE. It could also contribute to studies of themes such as sustainable development (in terms of the impact of lifestyle choices on the environment and sustainability) and to the outcomes of Every Child Matters.

A greater emphasis on increasing specialisation

An emphasis on providing clear pathways into physical activity in and beyond school will enable students to specialise and develop specific skills and techniques relevant to their interests. There are further opportunities for them to engage with real audiences and for real purposes through the requirement to take part in formal competitions and performances for audiences beyond the class or school and to work with others to plan and organise these events.

Planning for inclusion

Planning an inclusive key stage 4 means thinking about shaping the curriculum to match the needs and interests of the full range of learners.

These include:

  • the gifted and talented

  • those with special educational needs and disabilities

  • students who have English as a second language

  • the different needs of boys and girls.

Students in the school will also bring a range of cultural perspectives and experiences, which can be reflected in the curriculum and used to further students' understanding of the importance of the issues of diversity.

An inclusive curriculum is one where:

  • different groups of students are able to see the relevance of the curriculum to their own experiences and aspirations

  • all students, regardless of ability, have sufficient opportunities to succeed in their learning at the highest standard.

You may find that a useful starting point to planning for inclusion could be to consider your own school's Disability Action Plan, Race Equality Plan and other equality policies alongside a comprehensive overview of the data available on students from various groups. This can then be used to draw up a useful framework for curriculum review. You will also be able to identify appropriate points to involve learners themselves in some of these developments.

Support for assessment

Assessment is an essential part of normal teaching and learning in all subjects. It can take many forms and be used for a range of purposes. To be effective assessment must be ‘fit for purpose’; being clear what you want the assessment to achieve will determine the nature of the assessment and what the outcome will be.

When planning assessment opportunities consider the following:

Purpose – What is the assessment for and how will it be used?

Does it form part of ongoing assessment for learning to provide individual feedback or targets so that the student knows what to do next? Is it to provide an overall judgement about how the student is progressing against national curriculum levels? Related to this is the need to consider how the purpose of assessment affects the frequency of assessment. For example, there should be sufficient time between level-related judgements to allow a student to show progress, whereas to be effective the assessment of ongoing work should be embedded in day-to-day teaching and learning.

Evidence – What are the best ways to gather the evidence needed to support the purpose of the assessment?

Assessment shouldn’t be limited to a narrow range of evidence. Any meaningful judgement of progress or attainment should be based on a range of activities, outcomes and contexts This could include assessing the learning as it’s happening through observation, discussion or focused questioning; involving students in the process through peer or self-assessment; or sampling a range of work over a period of time. If there are areas where you don’t have sufficient evidence you could either adjust your planning or use a more focused short task or test to fill the gap. The gathering of evidence also needs to be manageable. With care, the same evidence may be used for a variety of purposes.

Outcome – What form will the assessment outcome take and how will it be used?

Depending on the purpose of the assessment the outcome could be a level judgement of progress over time or a specific and measurable improvement target for the student. Effective use of the assessment outcome results in actions such as providing an instant response or planning for the longer term. The best means of communicating assessment outcomes should also be considered. For example, it might be through written feedback or discussion. The outcome may also provide you with valuable information for your future planning, by identifying areas that need to be revisited by a class or individuals to secure understanding or by revealing gaps in curriculum coverage where there is no evidence of achievement in a particular area to assess.

Further guidance on gathering evidence, integrating assessment, periodic assessment and the role of tasks and tests can be found in the assessment section of the website.

Further guidance on day-to-day assessment and peer and self-assessment can be found under the assessment section of the website.

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