The London 2012 Games may be over, but the achievements of the Olympians and Paralympians are continuing to inspire people to take up sport. Derek Peaple, headteacher of Park House School in Newbury, Berkshire, explains how his school is making the most of that inspiration to get children involved in sport.
I’m sure that many of you will remember the old sports day tradition of the three-legged race. But at Park House School we’re using the inspiration of 2012 to shape what we’re calling a ‘three-legged legacy’: three distinctive but connected strands of activity embracing sports performance, sports participation and the wider educational relevance of the excitement generated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The first, and most obvious, ‘leg’ is naturally that relating to school sport and, critically, the relationship between elite performance and grass-roots participation. It’s all about initial talent identification and development. Here, we’ve launched a ‘Sporting Scholars’ scheme across our primary partner schools. This gives young people from those schools the opportunity to work with a specialist coach on the school site for an extended period and culminates in an inspirational visit to the Sports Performance Faculty at the University of Bath.
As part of this programme we also work with local clubs, many of which already use facilities at Park House, to ensure that we provide a vital progression route from school to club sport. All of those clubs are reporting an upsurge in interest following the Games. For example, our local athletic club – Team Kennet – now has more than 100 young people attending the twice weekly sessions we’ve run for many years and since September, it has introduced an additional Friday night slot to cope with the increased demand.
That’s the second ‘leg’ of the legacy that we can help to shape and influence. If we don’t encourage early participation in a wide range of sport through the curriculum, develop interest through extra-curricular activities and inter-school competitions such as the School Games, and subsequently extend this into specialist coaching through local clubs, there won’t be a next generation of Farahs, Cockcofts or Graingers.
So at Park House, we’re listening carefully to the views of our 2012 Student Legacy Team (pictured above with Paralympic gold medallist Tim Prendergast). This is a group of Year 10 and 11 pupils who have been surveying the rest of the student body about the sports that they would like to see us offer post-Games, both within the curriculum and through the provision of extra-curricular clubs staffed by PE teachers or outside coaches where we don’t have expertise within the department.
The third ‘leg’ of the Legacy is that inspired by the sporting success of 2012, but doesn’t necessarily have anything directly to do with sports performance. This is about capturing the excitement, inspiration and sense of community that resonated throughout the Games, and further embedding the Olympic and Paralympic Values that have been shaping so much of our cross-curricular learning in the lead up to them.
For example, our Student 2012 Legacy Team recently worked with Paralympic gold medallists Danny Crates and Tim Prendergast on the development of one of our thematic ‘Values Days’. This focused on the Paralympic Value of Equality, and in addition to challenging attitudes towards disability, now means that taster Paralympic sports such as sitting volleyball (pictured right) are included within our curriculum offer.
Images courtesy Park House School