AS History

AS History

Many centres find the AQA AS historical area difficult.  There are few resources available and student’s background knowledge tends to be scant to say the least.  The specification is not overly clear either:


  • The historical, social and cultural factors contributing towards the development of the current provision of physical education (including the influence of the English public schools on the emergence of rational recreation (including games) and the concept of fair play).


  • How the development of physical activity within state elementary schools from the early 20th century from the concepts of military drill to post World War II provision and the emphasis on movement have helped increase participation.


So what the student needs to know is in two main streams; the development of physical activity within the English public school system and how that and other factors affected the development of physical education in state schools.

The major problem for centres is not the actual knowledge required, there is plenty of information out there, but what precise knowledge needs to be known and what depth is going to be required in possible exam questions.  As is quite usual with AS level Physical Education, the best resource will be past papers and their mark schemes, so let’s use them!


Modern Physical Education is a merger of two distinct strands of educational provision that were both present in 19th century England; the public schools and the state elementary schools.  The clear division between these two approaches was chronology and class.


The English public school system came first.  It was based initially on class.  Boys who were the sons of the landowners (watch Downton Abbey for class distinction), being sent to rural boarding schools to be educated to be gentlemen and become the future politicians, doctors and lawyers by middle class schoolmasters.   Because of these class differences and the freedom that the boys were used to and were given by the schools, there was a complete disregard for authority, frequent riots and extensive bullying of the younger boys (watch Tom Brown’s Schooldays to show the riotous behaviour).  The boys also played games adapted to their own school, and these were eventually seen as being beneficial in controlling the boys behaviour and instilling discipline.


A previous 4 mark question – Why were the boys in the English public schools encouraged to play sport?  Simplistic terms such as discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, social control, and athleticism would give maximum marks.


When the public school boys went to University they continued playing their ‘games’, but with so many differences in how to play, there was a need to establish an agreed set of rules for each game (codification).


A previous 3 mark question – How did the 19th century public schools influence the technical development of rational recreation?  Key word here is technical.  Again simplistic terms such as rules, officials, kit, fixtures would gain full marks.


At roughly the same time as games were developing in the public schools, society itself was developing.  The industrial revolution attracted the working classes into towns (urbanisation).   From this society a middle class developed; the factory owners, the doctors, and the clergy.  Their sons (and daughters) needed educating and new schools followed the boarding and sporting pattern of the original public schools.

The middle classes also saw the value of sport in terms of its character-building, teamwork and sense of fair play.  They invented new sports to fill in their leisure time.  They cycled and walked for recreation, played badminton and tennis in their gardens.  Between 1860 and 1890 most of today’s modern sports were invented and formalised.  This sudden boom in sport is part of what is called rational recreation.


A previous 3 mark question – How did these public schools and the Universities help the spread of rational recreation into wider society?  Here the easy marks are for codification, clubs founded, factory teams and competitions.


Another previous 3 mark question – Outline the characteristics of rational recreation.  Credit for mentioning complex rules, kit, officials, spectators and fixtures.

The middle classes wanted to keep the working classes out of their sports.  Firstly because they didn’t wish to mix with the working classes, but there was the practical reason that a working man was probably fitter that a man who did not work; and a middle class man would not wish to lose to a working class man (Downton Abbey again for examples).  So the organisers of sport excluded the working classes through the rules, only the gentleman amateur was permitted to play.


A previous (legacy) 3 mark question – Explain how during the early days of organised sport, clear distinctions were maintained between social classes in terms of their participation.  Responses such as strict amateur/no working class code, exclusion clauses, high fees, played during the working day, would suffice for full marks.


There are some very early movies of people  taking part in leisure from about this period, including watching early football matches – The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon –


Schools for working class children didn’t start until 1870, and it was many years later before all children were attending school.  The factory owners wanted disciplined workers, who were obedient and willing to do the orders of their employers.


State schools, were often no more than a single large room.  Classes of over 40 were common.  Activities were designed to keep order.  Pupils would learn their maths ‘tables’ by reciting them while standing on chairs with accompanying movements.  The children were drilled into learning.


Following the Boer War (1899-1902), the working classes who had joined the army lacked discipline and were unfit.  The model course (1904) was introduced, with military exercises being introduced.  Pretend weapons were also used.  There are various images available that show what was going on!


A previous 2 mark question – Outline two objectives of teaching military drill in schools in the early 20th century (1902-1904).  Easy marks for discipline and preparation for army/war.


It was later realised that physical activity could be enjoyable as well as improving health and fitness.  The 1919 syllabus was therefore designed to have a therapeutic (health benefit) effect and introduced time for ‘free-movement’, dance and small games.


Another previous 5 mark question – Identify the similarities and differences between the state school (1904-1918) syllabuses of Physical Training and the current ‘National Curriculum for Physical Education’.  Marks available for both compulsory, both for health, earlier military drill, earlier mixed classes, earlier no activity choice, earlier preparation for army/factory


Another change brought on the 1933 syllabus which again emphasised the fitness and therapeutic benefits of exercise, but also acknowledged the idea of using your mind to decide what to do.  Many schools had gymnasia specifically built, but often lessons were held outside to benefit from the ‘fresh air’.  Readily available images will help students see what was happening.


Following the Second World War (1939-45), many schools needed rebuilding, apparatus was introduced into gymnasia, and playing fields were provided for schools.  Physical education moved towards a more creative, child-centred, movement style of learning.  In 1952, ‘moving and growing’ was published and emphasised the need to develop children’s physical, social and cognitive skills through exercises, dance, gymnastics, swimming and games.  Lessons became child-centred involving teachers providing guidance rather than direction, problem-solving and discovery learning, rather than command-style teaching, using lots of apparatus.  Many from previous generations will be able to inform students of their P.E. experiences.


A final past paper question, worth 4 marks – What changes occurred in Physical education in state schools following World War 11 (1939 – 1945), and prior to the National Curriculum, to encourage a more movement-based approach?  Credit given for naming moving and growing, suggesting apparatus built, a problem-solving approach, greater range of activities, and specialised P.E. teachers.

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