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RYA takes steps to reinstate sailing and windsurfing in GCSE PE

by Loretta Spridgeon 25 May 2016 18:52 BST 25 May 2016

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has welcomed the Department for Education's decision to review the GCSE PE activity list in the autumn of 2018.

The Department for Education has confirmed that a formal review of the list of activities eligible for assessment as part of GCSE Physical Education will take place in 2018, following the first examinations under the new arrangements.

Schools are currently able to deliver a variety of sports and activities through PE, which is a compulsory subject at all four key stages in the national curriculum, but in 2014 sailing and windsurfing (along with several other sports) were removed from the list of activities eligible for practical assessment at GCSE, AS-level and A-level.

During the review of the list of eligible sports conducted by the Department for Education during the summer of 2014, it was proposed by the GCSE-awarding organisations that all eligible activities must have a competitive or formal condition in which students can be assessed and that students cannot be assessed in a recreational form of the activity, in order to reflect Ofqual 's principles that non-exam assessment should ensure sound assessment practice, be manageable, and ensure a qualification is not easily distorted.

The awarding organisations proposed a revised list of eligible activities based upon their view of the suitability of activities as a means of assessing students' skills as part of a physical education qualification.

The RYA challenged the awarding organisations' analysis of the suitability of activities to be included in the eligible list, both in its response to the Department for Education's consultation and directly with the Secretary of State for Education, on the basis that the awarding organisations' assessment methodologies was flawed and that sailing and windsurfing were no more difficult to assess than several other sports that remain on the list.

Since the Department for Education confirmed its decision in 2014, the RYA has continued to lobby the Secretary of State for Education, the Sports Minister and the Department for Education in an effort to have sailing and windsurfing reinstated in the list of eligible activities. Although the time that will have elapsed between the RYA challenging the Department for Education's decision and the proposed review date is disappointing, the RYA nevertheless welcomes the Department for Education's confirmation that the review will take place.

Amanda Van Santen, RYA Chief Instructor, Dinghy and Windsurfing, explains: "It is a deeply frustrating situation and we have lobbied both the Minister of Education and Minister of Sport to express our objection that such a decision has been made with little evidence justifying the exclusion of sailing and windsurfing.

"Although 2018 is a long way off, the announcement of the review provides a step in a positive direction. We will be engaging fully with the review process in an effort to have sailing and windsurfing reinstated on the activity list."

Sailing often appeals to groups of young people who struggle to connect with more conventional school sports. In addition, sailing is one of the very few sports in which individuals can (and do) participate on equal terms, from local club racing to international competitions, regardless of age or gender and whether or not they have a disability.

As such, the RYA will continue to lobby for sailing and windsurfing to be reinstated on the activity list and to champion the suitability of these sports as a means of assessing students' skills as part of a physical education qualification.

The process of the review, including guidance on how new activities can be added to the list, will be announced closer to the time.

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