Welcome to the PE Department

  • Are you passionate about sport?
  • Are you focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
  • Are you interested in how the body achieves peak physical performance?
  • Are you keen to develop your skills in coaching?
  • Are you driven to find out how to maximise your personal fitness and performance?
  • Are you fascinated by Olympic champions and what gives them the psychological edge over their competitors?
  • Are you intrigued by why nearly one billion people would watch a single sporting event?

If the answer is yes to any or all of the above, then GCSE and A Level PE could be the subject choice for you.

Subject Team

Our staff are a dedicated and inspiring team with a wide variety of sporting and examining experience.

Mrs A Symington (Head of Girls’ PE)
Mr A Symington (Head of Boys’ PE)
Mr S McDowell

Department Aims

PE aims to develop:

  • a passion for sport
  • knowledge of physiology, psychology and sociology
  • enjoyment of participation in sport

Students who study GCSE PE often combine it with GCSE Biology to help in the understanding of physiology topics. GCSE PE and Biology are both of great benefit for those who take their PE to AS and A2 level.


GCSE Physical Education

Examination Board:  CCEA

What is GCSE PE about?

GCSE PE is aimed at students who are keen to discover the benefits of leading a balanced healthy lifestyle and who wish to develop peak physical performance in their chosen sports.  There are plenty of opportunities to perform practically throughout the course and students are encouraged to try new sports and activities as well as monitor their own lifestyle profile.  Students have an opportunity to coach and officiate in addition to taking part in a hillwalking residential at Tollymore Mountain Centre in June of Year 11.

 What will I study and how will I be assessed?

The course follows the CCEA GCSE PE Specification and is focused on promoting students’ physical and mental development. It equips the student with knowledge, understanding and skills to make informed and responsible decisions as contributors to society. Visit the CCEA PE Microsite for more background information.

Component  1

 Factors Underpinning Health and Performance


External Examination


1 hour 15 mins


Component  2

Developing Performance


External written examination


1 hour 15 mins


Component 3

Individual performances in Physical Activities and Sports


Students perform three physical activities or sports from the list provided by CCEA


12.5% per activity

The three different physical activities can be chosen from the following categories:

  • athletic-type activities
  • dance-type activities
  • games-type activities
  • gymnastic-type activities
  • outdoor adventure-type activities
  • specialist activities

Learning the theory aspect of GCSE PE is understood more clearly by those who participate in sport for either competitive or recreational reasons.

What can this subject lead to?

GCSE PE opens doors in a variety of areas.   The natural progression may be to study PE at A Level and a number of students follow university courses in Sport Science, Physical Education and similar disciplines.  PE students have also followed careers in the Health Sciences, Education and Management whilst others have specialised in areas such as Sports Psychology, Strength and Conditioning and Sports’ Therapy.

mountain 2 mountain

A Level

Sports Science and the Active Leisure Industry


Examination Board: CCEA


What is A Level Sports Science and the Active Leisure Industry


Sports Science and the Active Leisure Industry focuses on relating theory to sport and its impact on performance.


The specification is taught using a combination of teacher guidance and student input, through personal experiences, ideas and debates. Students are required to apply theory to sporting performance, and class input becomes an integral part of teaching and learning. Students are encouraged to learn and research independently and to share resources.

Practical application assists with the understanding of more complex theory from simple group exercises to complex sports testing using scientific laboratories and a visit to the High Performance Centre at the Sports’ Institute of Northern Ireland (SINI), bringing the science of the subject to life.

The subject is linear, with examination in June. Students may take the AS as a stand-alone qualification if they wish. To get the full GCE students must complete both AS and A2. AS and A2 each comprise two units.


What will I study and how will I be assessed?


AS ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1
Fitness and Training for Sport
Internal Assessment

Portfolio showing written evidence of training methods, fitness assessment and planning, leading and evaluating exercise sessions, and risk assessment.


60% of AS

30% of A Level

Unit 2
The Active Leisure Industry: Health, Fitness and Lifestyle
External Examination


40% of AS

20% of A Level

A2 ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1
Event Management inthe Active Leisure Industry
Internal Assessment

Portfolio showing written evidence of planning for an active leisure event and evaluation of outcome.

30% of A Level
Unit 2
The Application of Science to Sports Performance
External Examination


20% of A Level


Are there any particular qualities or skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?


An active interest in sport is essential for any student wishing to study this course, as confidence is required to devise and lead training programmes.

A qualification in Sports Science and the Active Leisure Industry can lead to a range of careers including:  Exercise Physiologist, Sports Training, Sports Medicine, Sports Coach, Education, Sports Official, Sport Psychologist, Biomechanist, Sport Journalist, Administration, Sports Marketing and Selling Fitness Products.

Entry Requirements

GCSE Grade B is recommended in Physical Education. Alternatively, GCSE Grade B in Biology, together with a genuine interest in sport (i.e. you must be presently playing competitive sport on a regular basis) are also accepted.

Department News / Events

Year 14 Sports Science Mixed Hockey Event 2021

Our Year 14 Sports Science class recently organised and ran a 6 a-side mixed hockey tournament for u15s called PC6s. The event was a great success and both the staff and players really enjoyed taking part. Mixed hockey has great potential to become a very popular sport for youth hockey players. This event highlights the interesting and enjoyable coursework that is part of a Sports Science A level at Portadown College.

The Information Pack can be found here:

Mixed Hockey Tournament Information Pack 

Year 14 Sports Science tag Rugby Event 2019

On Thursday 14th February, our Year 14 PE class ran a mixed tag rugby tournament involving GCSE PE students from both Year 11 and Year 12 classes. This was part of our A Level Coursework which we had been planning since the start of the school year, and a lot of work had gone into it. The event was a great success with fantastic weather and a hugely enjoyable and competitive atmosphere which we hope encouraged further participation and interest in rugby. Below are some photos from the day of the event.

Hannah is among top performers at 2017 GCSE Physical Education Exams

Hannah Vogan was awarded Joint 3rd GCSE Physical Education. (teacher Andrew Symington)

What can I read to find out more about PE and Sport?

Sport is all around us and constantly evolving. People are passionate about sport and it impacts on people’s lives in countless ways. The UK is hosting the Olympic Games this year and physical education has never played such an important part in society.

Pick up any newspaper, especially a good broadsheet paper, and read the Sports Section. Sport isn’t always confined to the back pages, these days sport is quite likely to be front page news. To keep up to date with what is happening in sport and give you an added insight into many sport related areas within your PE course, take some time to read the following:


You can read many of the broadsheet newspapers in the College Library.

Recommended Reading for GCSE PE

  • Physical Education for CCEA GCSE. 2nd ed, Prentice, D., Colourpoint Books
  • The World of Sport Examined, 2nd ed, Beashel, Sibson and Taylor, Nelson Thornes

Recommended reading for A Level PE

  • AQA Physical Education AS: Student’s Book, Murray and Bevis, Nelson Thornes
  • AQA Physical Education A2: Student’s Book, Murray and Bevis, Nelson Thornes
  • Sport and PE: A Complete Guide to Advanced Level study, Wesson, Wiggins, Thompson and Hartigan, Hodder & Stoughton
  • Advanced PE and Sport for A Level, 3rd ed, Honeybourne, Hill and Moors, Nelson Thornes
  • PE Review Magazine

All the above are available in the College Library or from the PE Department. PE Review Magazine is the leading A Level PE publication and is recommended reading for all A Level PE students.

Revision Websites


Past Papers

http://www.ccea.org.uk/physical_education/ Follow the links to GCSE then Examinations then Past Papers

http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pe/pe_noticeboard.php A Level past papers and mark schemes

Educational Visits / Trips

GCSE PE Orienteering Course 2018

18 GCSE PE students went to Tollymore National Outdoor centre for an overnight residential to learn the skills necessary to orienteer so they can compete in the NI schools Orienteering competitions next year. The staff at Tollymore were very complementary of the pupils’ ability to pick up the necessary techniques, their manners, and the effort they put into the different courses. All pupils were able to have a go at the Level 3 (orange) graded course by the end of the second day.

All the pupils and staff had a great 2 days in stunning scenery and beautiful weather.



GCSE PE Hillwalking Course and Assessment

Last week Year 11 pupils stayed overnight at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre and completed the GCSE hillwalking course. The pupils completed the course in various parts of the Mournes (Butter and Spelga Mountains) and then completed their assessment in Rocky Mountain & Hen Mountain.

During the course the 18 pupils learnt about equipment needed in the mountains, how to pack a rucksack, weather, map reading & navigation skills, steep ground management, casualty management in the mountains and basic camp craft (how to put up/take down tents, pros/cons of different cooking equipment, how to select the best campsite and how to look after the environment). The last day focused on an assessment of all the skills they had learnt. The pupils were accompanied by all 4 PE staff and 3 staff from Tollymore Outdoor Centre.


Where will PE take me?

The obvious suggestion is to say that it will lead onto one of many of the sports-related degree courses available. However, the real benefit of the PE A Level is that it enables the student to develop a wide range of key skills such as thinking skills, problem solving and decision making skills, independent learning, leadership, collaborative learning, time management and self-confidence.

From scientific research through to debate, A Level PE also develops an organised well rounded student that can cope with the demands of University life. This skill set will stand students in good stead for most University courses.

A Level PE will also prepare you for the workplace. Sport is now such a huge industry where there are endless employment opportunities. A few examples include: coaching, teaching, biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, officiating, sports technology development, sports administration, sports management and media.

Many of our former PE students are pursuing rewarding, interesting and well-paid careers in many different areas of employment. Below are some testimonials from former PC students illustrating examples of the wide range of professions leading on from the study of PE:

If you decide you want to pursue a Sport related degree course, there are many excellent courses available throughout the United Kingdom. Please ask the PE staff and the Careers Department for advice.

Some of the most highly rated courses by students and independent reviewers are listed below:

University of Ulsterhttp://prospectus.ulster.ac.uk/course/?id=8249
John Moores Universitywww.ljmu.ac.uk/ECL/teacher-education/97254.htm
Loughborough Universitywww.lboro.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/departments/sportexerciseandhealthsciences/
Birmingham Universitywww.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/sport-exercise/index.aspx
Edinburgh Universitywww.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/education/undergraduate/degree-programmes/pe
Stirling Universityhttp://www.stir.ac.uk/undergraduate-study/course-information/courses-a-to-z/school-of-sport/sports-studies

Useful Links

Governing Bodies
Ulster Hockey
Irish Hockeywww.hockey.ie
Ulster Schools Rugby
NI Schools’ Football Associationwww.nisfa.co.uk
Netball NIwww.netballni.org
NI Volleyballwww.nivb.com/index.php
UK Athleticswww.uka.org.uk/
Athletics NIwww.athleticsni.org/
National Organisations
Sport NIwww.sportni.net
Sports Institute of N Irelandwww.sini.co.uk/
UK Sportwww.uksport.gov.uk/
Irish Sports Councilwww.irishsportscouncil.ie
London 2012 Official Sitewww.london2012.com
British Olympic Associationwww.teamgb.com/