Sport is an integral part of life at Shiplake College. With timetabled games or outdoor education sessions every day, all pupils are heavily involved in physical activity. Unsurprisingly, many choose to combine their participation in competitive sports and recreational minor activities with the academic study of Physical Education. This is a compulsory element of the curriculum in lower year groups, which becomes an optional subject at GCSE and A Level. The Physical Education Department is passionate about educating pupils about the importance of leading balanced, healthy and active lifestyles.


The College boasts exceptional grounds and sporting facilities, allowing pupils to enjoy representing their school in the best possible environment. There are three large sports fields providing a number of high quality pitches for all outdoor sports and recreation.

Physical Education lessons generally take place on the all-weather Astroturf pitch or in our large, multi-purpose sports centre which lies at the heart of the College. This features a dedicated classroom, a spacious sports hall, two squash courts and a strength and conditioning gym. The College has extensive fitness facilities including numerous rowing ergometers and small cardiovascular gyms in multiple boarding houses. The College’s outdoor swimming pool is used frequently in warmer months during Physical Education lessons and in pupils’ free time.

Additional Opportunities 

Pupils are offered a magnitude of sporting activities as part of the College’s diverse co-curricular programme (link). Boys and girls can select from a long list of major sports and minor activities, which supplement the study of Physical Education. High quality coaching is provided by teaching staff and external experts to ensure pupils continue to develop throughout their time at the College. The busy sporting calendar also includes numerous inter-House events.

Keen sportsmen and women are encouraged to apply the theoretical knowledge gained during PE lessons to their own personal training and performance.


Key Stage 3

The major focus of Physical Education lessons in younger year groups is on core skill development. There is an emphasis on participation regardless of natural ability, which extends to the College’s sporting programme. Skills and abilities covered during lessons transfer positively to multiple sports to improve pupils’ confidence and aptitude. 


GCSE Physical Education is a dynamic and challenging course which continues to grow in popularity at Shiplake College. Pupils are provided with the opportunity to participate in numerous sports as well as learning the values of an active and healthy lifestyle. Teaching involves a blend of theory and practical lessons, allowing pupils to use their full range of intellectual and sporting talents to achieve their potential.

The course encourages creativity and decision-making skills to enable the students to plan effectively for performances and respond to changing situations. It also helps pupils to make informed decisions about further learning opportunities and career choices.

Sixth Form

Physical Education is currently offered as an A Level option. However, in order to extend and tailor our provision of the subject, the College has introduced a BTEC Sport course. The BTEC course is for learners who enjoy sport and are keen to investigate how the human mind and body excel in the sporting environment. For those pupils with at least 4 GCSEs at Grade C or above, the course provides an opportunity for practical, hands-on-learning. There are fewer examinations in BTEC courses, meaning that pupils are predominantly assessed through a series of coursework tasks. Whilst the course specification is currently under review, it is highly likely that pupils will study the physiology of fitness, assessing risk in sport and the principles of anatomy in sport amongst other topics. Typical methods of assessment would measure a pupil's ability to design a personal exercise programme, give a verbal briefing on risk assessment or administer various sport performance and fitness tests.

Pupils looking to take A Level PE should have obtained a minimum of a B grade in their GCSE PE course, with suitability largely based upon the GCSE theory exam score rather than practical ability. Pupils require a lively and enquiring mind, a willingness to explore new ideas and an ability to communicate effectively. The subject has a high academic content which requires a great deal of independent research and study to master the scientific elements of the course. A high level of sporting ability is desirable as practical performance is also assessed. Pupils will learn about concepts relating to anatomy, exercise physiology, skill acquisition, psychology and sociology in sport. The course content is a 70:30 split between theory and practical work. Students should expect to be assessed in opportunities for leading a healthy and active lifestyle, optimising performance and evaluating contemporary issues within sport, amongst other topics.

Pupils who enjoy sport would find the subject both interesting and stimulating. A strong performance in the A Level will allow the pupil to credibly apply for a wide range of sport-related courses at leading institutions. People taking these courses often move on to physiotherapy, teaching, coaching, analysis, management, marketing or personal training.

It is our duty to inspire pupils to adopt lifelong healthy, active and balanced lifestyles.
Head of Girls' Games