Skateboarding at GCSE: Students aim for exam success

Image caption, Theo Hamilton said school skateboarding is an opportunity to try something new

  • Author, Rebekah Wilson
  • Role, BBC NewsNI

“I feel like everyone could try skateboarding, it’s a perfect opportunity.”

Theo Hamilton is a 16 year old and he takes up skateboarding as part of his PE GCSE.

Northern Ireland is the first part of Great Britain to offer the sport as part of the grammar school curriculum at GCSE level.

Exam body the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) said the growing popularity of skateboarding led to its inclusion.

Image caption, Northern Ireland became the first part of Britain to include skateboarding in the GCSE curriculum

Theo started skateboarding when he was about 14 and when he found out it was on the list of sports at his school for GCSE PE, he was delighted.

“Usually people wouldn’t think of skateboarding as a sport that you could even do at school – I was so surprised – it’s quite a good thing,” he said.

Theo studies at Campbell College in East Belfast, one of many schools in Northern Ireland offering skateboarding as a GCSE sport.

What are you judged on for skateboarding?

Image caption, Skateboarding has grown in popularity after becoming an Olympic sport in 2020

As with sports such as gymnastics and skating, grades are given for landing movements, but also for how well they are performed and the technique used.

Jared Purvis developed the GCSE syllabus and he also teaches students across Northern Ireland who have chosen the sport as part of their GCSE PE.

He said getting top grades should look easy.

“Skateboarding should look effortless – if you try something at your maximum level you will probably land it rough, with the toe hitting the ground – to have a top contender they would do whatever it takes, but effortlessly,” he said.

If you land an ollie you get a score, but if you land an ollie with ease you get a higher score, he explained.

Image caption, Jared Purvis said the sport is accessible and good for personal development

Mr Purvis also works with Skateboard NI, which is part of Skateboard GB – the governing body for skateboarding in Great Britain.

“You can do it because all you need is a skateboard, access to the internet and access to someone like me or another skateboard coach. It’s so accessible that it wasn’t a problem. It’s great for fun and also for personal development,” he said.

He said skateboarding at the Olympics gave the sport a huge boost.

“I went to my local bar with these old guys and said, ‘You see that skateboarding on the TV, how do you do that?’” he said.

“They are all interested.”

He hopes the inclusion of skateboarding in schools will help promote more funding for the sport in Northern Ireland.

“Our weather isn’t great for outdoor skating, so my end goal is to get an indoor facility here so that NI skateboarders can be as great as those in America or places with a better climate for skateboarding,” he said.

Image caption, Peter Davidson said it was a great tribute that Northern Ireland was the first part of Britain where skateboarding was a GCSE sport

Peter Davidson, the education manager for sports science and physical education at CCEA, said it made sense to include newer sports.

“We’ve seen parkour and more urban sports, like skateboarding, become accepted and brought to the Olympics – so this tied in well with that and we were happy to tap into it,” he said.

Mr Davidson said it was “a great honour” for Northern Ireland to be the first part of Britain to introduce skateboarding into schools.

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