Writing for the TES this week, primary Headteacher and regular contributor Colin Harris claimed the ‘Legacy of the London Olympics is in tatters – too many schools are failing to provide PE.’ (full article here) In this week’s blog, Steve Docking, CEO of NWAT and Headteacher of Delamere CofE Academy, flies the flag for the schools that put sport and physical activity at the heart of a healthy curriculum and challenges others to do the same.
I loved the Olympic Games and London 2012 was no exception. From Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony to Anthony Joshua winning gold on the final day, the UK had the best two week staycation ever. A fortnight filled with the kind of feel good factor that can only come from watching and celebrating sport. And then it ended, and we were all left with an overwhelming feeling of ‘what now?’
We were told to ‘inspire a generation’ and for some of us that is exactly what we did. It is easy to knock those schools which failed to take the Olympic legacy and run with it (pun intended). All schools face constant funding challenges and many could use this as an excuse to have missed the momentum in the post-Games years…but the best schools,the ones that truly inspire, have committed to using what they have to make a massive difference to children’s experiences of sport and physical activity. They do this despite the barriers they face and by not putting up more barriers and caving in.
After London 2012, Delamere CofE Academy decided that primary generalist teachers supplemented by part-time coaches was not the answer. We chose to employ a full-time fully qualified specialist PE teacher and decided it was vital that we not only inspired future generations but did something about the one we already had. The school already prioritised sport but having a PE specialist meant we could now focus on what excellence in this area looks like. We had our choice of applicants and chose someone who would indeed inspire all our children, not just those who were already gifted at sport.
Inclusion and participation were our highest priority.
Since 2012 we have trebled our sports offer and entered more than 160 inter and intra-school competitions a year, each child has two hours minimum of PE a week and every pupil swims once a week from Reception to Year 6. We win lots but even better than this, participation rates in competitions in all year groups are 100% with children desperate to do more.
Bully for you I hear you mutter, but we have our barriers too. Our budget is £740k – seven classes, 24 pupils in each, a full time Teacher and TA support in each, a full time PE Teacher, plus a Counsellor, Inclusion Manger, two catertakers etc… resulting in a wage bill of £600k. We could spend on money on other things but we don’t. We make sure what we have left covers all aspects of the curriculum and PE is at the heart of what we do. If we can do it with a limited small budget, so can you.
Before we start inspiring a generation, look at what you have got, use it wisely, quit moaning that you can’t and crack on. The Olympic legacy is not in tatters, many of us have embraced it. Do more with less is the mantra of education funding at the moment, and if you do it well you will inspire a generation and not just in PE!