The department and staff
The Academic PE department at Sutton Valence included both GCSE and A level AQA courses. Since I started in 2002 as Head of Department, we have grown in size in terms of staffing and the number of pupils selecting the courses.
We have a wealth of expertise amongst the staff both practically and academically. I have had the pleasure of being an AQA A Level PE examiner – a job you always wonder why you do it at the time, but then when you come to teaching your own students, you realise the many benefits! Having captained Somerset at hockey, played British Universities and Sussex county cricket and being a qualified tennis coach, I feel I can give students many practical examples to support their learning.
Ex-–GB Hockey player (two Commonwealth Games, two World Cups and four European Cups), Mr David Mathews (Head of Hockey) also specialises in teaching the Anatomy, Physiology and Biomechanics topics at AS and A2. He studied Sports Science at Brunel University with his dissertation being on ‘The biomechanics of a hockey drag flick’ – a topic which always excites pupils!
We have Miss Kelly McConnachie, BSc Sports and Materials Science (Birmingham University), who brings expertise in Exercise Physiology and Sport Psychology teaching AS and A2. One of her main loves is swimming (County Masters Squad) and you will also find her as one of those mad competitors in Open Water competitions. She is also our Head of Netball, playing Premier Division in the Maidstone, Tonbridge and Medway leagues.
At GCSE level, pupils put forward four practical activities, which go towards 60% of their final GCSE grade. The other 40% is theory and pupils enjoy studying the various topics such as the effect of individual differences on participation in sport, the demands of performance, diet, a little exercise physiology, training methods, media, sponsorship and technological advances. Each year at the end of the Summer Term, Fourth Form GCSE PE pupils are given the opportunity to undertake their RLSS Life Saving qualification, which can help towards one of their practical activities. We also regularly have Field Days, which include student workshops based around GCSE topics, to Wimbledon and Twickenham.
A level curriculum
At A level we also follow the AQA course. Pupils at AS level have to put forward two activities as part of their practical component (40% of their AS). At A2, the requirement is one practical activity, plus written coursework on comparing their practical performance weaknesses to elite performers, then suggesting theoretical causes and corrective measures. We consistently get far above national averages for the practical component. At AS level theory, pupils study opportunities for and the effects of leading a healthy and active lifestyle including nutrition, the respiratory and cardiovascular system, movement analysis, skill acquisition, barriers to participation and history of state school/independent school PE. A2 topics are related to the elite performer more – applied physiology and psychological aspects to optimise performance, evaluating contemporary influences such as ethics, deviancy and the law, commercialisation of modern-day sport and organisations involved the development of elite performers in the UK.
Miss Paula Hallett
Head of Academic PE