Mark Johnson, PE and Sport Subject Advisor
Ensuring equality is paramount in everything we do at OCR, and we consistently strive to ensure that our qualifications are accessible for all students. In this blog I celebrate the success of Britain’s Paralympians and aim to increase awareness of the opportunities that disabled students have in our Entry Level, GCSE and AS/A Level Physical Education qualifications.
The Beijing Winter Paralympics start on Friday 4 March, providing an excellent opportunity for people to see these incredibly talented and inspiring athletes perform on the greatest stage, in the following events:
Paralympics GB will take its biggest team to the Paralympics since Lillehammer 1994, with 20 skiers and snowboarders being joined by 5 wheelchair curlers. There is a high level of optimism with the winter team ready to pick up where the summer Tokyo trailblazers left off.
The Alpine skiing team will once again include 2018 multi-medallists Menna Fitzpatrick and Millie Knight. They will be joined in the visually impaired class by games debutant Neil Simpson who is guided by his brother Andrew. Shona Brownlee, Katie Guest, Dan Sheen and Alex Slegg will all make their Paralympic debuts.
In the Nordic skiing, Hope Gordon who prior to her amputation competed as an able bodied swimmer, and former Paralympic sailing competitor Steve Thomas will compete in seated cross country. Scott Meenagh, who was injured when he stepped on an improvised explosive device whilst serving in Afghanistan, will compete in six separate Nordic events.
Snowboarders James Barnes-Miller in the SB-UL classification and Owen Pick in the SB-LL2 classification, who both had top 10 finishes at the 2018 Paralympics, will be joined by Games debutants Ollie Hill and Andy Macleod.
Wheelchair curling, which made its first appearance in the 2006 games where Team GB won silver, sees a return for 2014 bronze medallist Gregor Ewan. Hugh Nibloe, who was part of the GB team which finished 7th in 2018, has retained his place in the team and is joined by debutants David Melrose, Meggan Dawson-Farrell and former wheelchair basketballer Gary Smith.
It is hoped that the winter team can emulate their summer counterparts, who excelled at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, finishing 2nd in the overall medal table with a staggering 124 medals.
It really was ‘A games unlike any other’ and because Channel 4 provided extensive TV coverage, we were able to see these incredibly talented and inspiring athletes perform on the greatest stage for the first time.
With so many great performances it is difficult to single out specific athletes. Ellie Simmonds announced her retirement after her 4th games, but the future for women’s Paralympic swimming looks good with Maisie Summers-Newton, Tully Kearney, Hannah Russell and Bethany Firth all winning individual golds.
On the athletics track Thomas Young and Sophie Hahn both won the T38 100 metres and there were a further eight gold medals in athletics.
Neil Fachie won gold and set a cycling world record only a few minutes before his wife Lora also won gold in the velodrome. Dame Sarah Storey (who is also a six-times able bodied national track champion) won three cycling gold medals to take her own personal medal haul to 28.
David Smith OBE, who has recently been collaborating with us on the Boccia skills for the GCSE and A Level PE specifications, staged an amazing fightback to win gold.
We hope that these amazing athletes in both summer and winter games, and the increased media coverage, can show the world how great disability sport is, and inspire more disabled students to study PE or Sport. At OCR we will actively support any student who selects physical education as an option.
The following disability sports are included on the DfE approved activity list for Entry Level, GCSE and AS/A Level:
We also have a process in place to make all of the approved activities accessible for assessment to students with disabilities.
Our Activity Adjustment Request (AAR) process allows for the marking criteria for activities to be adapted to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
If you do have any students with a disability who are considering PE as an option, please refer to the Requesting an activity adjustment for learners with disabilities section of the relevant Guide to Non-Exam Assessment (NEA):
You’ll need to complete the Activity Adjustment Request form, and forward the completed forms to our special requirements team email@example.com by 1 December in the first year of the student’s study. If you’d like more help on completing the form, please contact the PE and Sport subject advisors on PE@ocr.org.uk
Some practical sport assessments for vocational qualifications can also be adapted to ensure they are accessible for students with disabilities. Please contact the PE team for more information.
If you have any questions, you can email us at PE@ocr.org.uk, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_PhysEd. You can also sign up to receive email updates and receive information about resources and support.
Mark joined OCR as a PE and sport subject advisor in October 2018, after a career as a PE teacher. Throughout his teaching career Mark had the pleasure of teaching several disabled students and was also instrumental in setting up opportunities for his own students to coach/lead activities for disabled athletes. Mark and his own students found this rewarding and inspiring and he is motivated to ensure that all students are given equal opportunities to complete PE and Sport qualifications and pursue a career in sport regardless of the challenges they may face.