Rounders England send open letter to the Department for Education

Re: Review of GCSE, AS and A level Physical Education Activity Lists – September 2019

Having received the disappointing confirmation that Rounders was not included on the list of sports eligible for practical assessment at GCSE and A Level, Rounders England would like to inform the Department of Education that we do not feel the decision is correct and request to meet to present our case.

Following the announcement of the 2018 DfE consultation, we submitted a comprehensive response in December 2018 which consulted with a wide range of national partners, delivery bodies of Rounders and the public in order to be able to offer as full a response as possible. Consultees include Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust, Association for Physical Education, Sport & Recreation Alliance, Women in Sport, exam boards, PE practitioners and universities. As part of this, The Youth Sport Trust commented:

“Rounders England have responded to their exclusion from the 2015 list by working with schools, seeking specific advice and liaising with exam boards to develop a robust assessment method which we believe should now be considered for reinstating following this consultation as an alternative striking and fielding activity. Not only is there only one sport available in this category at present but it is traditionally highly gendered, and Rounders is widely played in schools.”

The feedback we received stated that Rounders was not included within the list as it was not deemed to fulfil criterion 1-3. However, Rounders experts and respected PE practitioners reject this on grounds which include:

  • ‘Rounders is comparable to other sports on the list e.g. cricket’. For instance, in Rounders the backstop is broadly similar to a cricket wicketkeeper when receiving a bowl from the bowler but goes beyond cricket after the ball is received (choosing where to throw the ball / moving to another position for a stumping opportunity);
  • ‘Rounders does enable students to demonstrate understanding of, and implementation of, tactics, strategies and/or composition’. The tactics required to play Rounders at a high level are multi-faceted including application of rules, strategic, decision making and positional; and
  • ‘Rounders does require the development of skills over a significant period of time’. It may be feasible that the basic skills are simple to pick up but the potential to master is complex.

From a process perspective, Rounders England would like to highlight the following concerns:

  • Criterion 1 required the comparison of an activity to two which were currently on the list. With only one striking and fielding sport it wasn’t possible to provide a like for like comparison to two activities; and
  • The format of the consultation made it difficult to challenge the belief that ‘Rounders is a basic primary school activity’ and the existence of ‘Rounders at elite level’ is ignored. Rounders has a thriving community of teams, leagues and competition that stretching far beyond a basic primary school activity. With a growing workforce of coaches, leaders and umpires Rounders has an emerging pathway to elite level competition through established leagues and England squads.

In addition we would like to express our concerns that only one striking and fielding sport (cricket) is included on the list, thus limiting the accessibility for some students. We believe this will have implications for developing physical literacy and we are collaborating with other like-minded NGBs to propose this is investigated.

We are aware there is no formal right to appeal this decision however we will continue to develop our strategy within the education sector as a skilful game and one of the very few fully inclusive, mixed gender and accessible sports played both in and out of school. As an NGB we are working alongside the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England on developing the sector pledge to support the implementation of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan and are committed to supporting physical literacy for all.

In summary we believe Rounders to be a suitable sport which meets the criteria and should be included. We will continue to lobby to reinstate Rounders into the GCSE/A Level curriculum and ensure generations can continue to enjoy a unique and popular English sport.

Thank you for taking time to read this letter and we would like to request a meeting to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely

Katherine Knight                              Natalie Justice-Dearn
Chair                                                  Chief Executive

Article by Rounders England:

Rounders England is a non-profit sport’s national governing body (NGB) in England.
Rounders England provides a structure for the sport from the Board, local deliverers and teams right the way through to individual members and volunteers.