Content Standards in England
The National Curriculum in England put forth ‘programmes of study’ for physical education in 2013 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ national-curriculum-in-england-physical-education-programmes-of-study/ national-curriculum-in-england-physical-education-programmes-of-study). The curriculum identifies broad ‘attainment targets’ at each of four Key Stages based on age groups. At key stage 1 (age five to seven) the curriculum requires a focus on fundamental locomotor and manipulative skills, while also stipulating that students should “participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending”. Clearly then the tactical components of games content are important at this early stage. At key stage 2 (age 7-11), teaching and learning focusses on combinations of skills, and enabling students to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses. Among other content requirements the programme of study stipulates that students should “play competitive games, modified where appropriate [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, net- ball, rounders and tennis], and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending”. Again, though learning outcomes are not as specific as in the case of the SHAPE America grade level outcomes, the learning of‘principles suitable for attacking and defending’ suggests a tactical focus.
At key stage 3 (age 11-14), teaching focusses on application of previously learned techniques across different sports and activities, and developing confidence and interest in activity outside of school. Again, a range of content is specified, including the requirement that students should be taught to ‘use a range of tactics and strategies to overcome opponents in direct competition through team and individual games [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders, rugby and tennis]’. At key stage 4 (age 14-16) the focus is on activities that develop personal fitness and promote an active and healthy lifestyle. But the key stage 3 attainment target of using a range of tactics and strategies is retained, again indicating a value placed on the tactical components of games teaching and learning. So, while you might say that attainment targets in the English National Curriculum lack specificity such that they can be applied to specific games, the value placed on understanding the tactics of game play and applying skills to solve tactical problems is quite clear.
Content Standards in Singapore
The Physical Education Teaching and Learning Syllabus for Singapore (Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2016) identifies six goals for physical education, and to some extent these resemble the SHAPE America (2014) standards and grade level outcomes. The Singapore goals focus on the following:
- 1 Performing movement skills
- 2 Understanding and applying movement concepts and strategies
- 3 Participating safely in physical activity
- 4 Exhibiting positive personal and social behaviour
- 5 Developing health-enhancing physical fitness
- 6 Valuing and enjoying physical activity
In Singapore, the early years are focussed on the teaching and learning of fundamental movement skills and concepts, a clear emphasis on goal 1, but from the ages of about nine to ten the games curriculum is organized into the categories of net-barrier, striking-fielding and territorial-invasion. The following excerpt from the curriculum document suggests that a Game Sense would be an appropriate approach to teaching.
From Primary 5 onwards, games are organised in three games category of net-barrier, striking-fielding and territorial-invasion with the various games-related concepts. Situational games will be used to teach the students the games-related concepts and the related skills (‘How to do’). For example, in a lvl situational game in the territorial-invasion category, students will have to move away from the defender or protect the ball (‘What to do’). This is done by dribbling or shielding the ball (‘How to do’). The ‘How to do’ segment are skills that students have learnt from Primary 1 to 4. Students get to reinforce and apply the skills learnt in Primary 5 and 6. Quick decisions (‘What to do’) have to be made by selecting the most appropriate movement as demanded by the context presented in the situational game.
(Singapore МОЕ, p. 48)
The Singapore curriculum document goes on to provide specific learning outcomes for all grades, the most relevant in this case being those beginning at Primary 5 and 6 (ages 9-11). Learning outcomes for each situational game are stated in terms of ‘what to do’ with skill execution suggestions provided as answers to the question of‘how to do it’.