The state of play: how commensurate are BTECs and A-levels in sport and physical education

Spence, S., and MacNamara, Á. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8110-6784 (2018) The state of play: how commensurate are BTECs and A-levels in sport and physical education. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 23 (2). pp. 231-248. ISSN 1747-5112

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The somewhat forever-changing landscape of education in England has recently challenged the post-16 sector in new ways, with funding and a knowledge-based curriculum just some of the new initiatives institutions must acclimatise to. Sport provision, a generic term used in this paper to encompass level three sport and physical education programmes, is not in limbo, but certainly faces challenges. This research focused on exploring the current ‘state of play’ of post-16 sport provision. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were carried out on teachers focusing solely on the Advanced (A)-level and Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) national routes. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed using the six phases outlined by Braun and Clarke in the form of a thematic analysis. The main findings were that the content is perceived to be challenging due to the depth and detail of knowledge required on topic areas investigated on the A-level route, in contrast to the breadth, related to the number of units of study on the BTEC national programmes. Practical knowledge also emerged as a key theme, with results indicating a diminished importance of the practical aspects of both programmes, and conflicting views were evident on how practical knowledge should be assessed, with some preferring the grading of practical performance only and others preferring wider aspects of performance to feature in the grade awarded. Finally, post-16 options in sport and PE were perceived to be ‘a positive thing’ but the caveat with this is the concerns regarding programme symmetry and how commensurate respective programmes are.

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