Page 30 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 30

  Pioneering new trends in sport
Time to shine
  Individual sports such as triathlon, cycling, climbing, golf, judo and gymnastics are attracting more and more teenagers – a trend noticed by Giggleswick School, Yorkshire.
Headteacher Mark Turnbull said: “Against a background of increasing participation in sport in general there is a national trend for more and more people to take up individual sports.”
Certainly this would seem to be backed up by Sport England’s Active People Survey. Figures released in December 2016 suggest almost 230,000 more people play sport weekly in 2016 than 2015.
Said Mark: “At Giggleswick we are actively encouraging interest in cycling, running, climbing, golf, triathlon and cyclocross and are lucky to have the natural surroundings which are perfect for these sports. Every child has the opportunity to try a wide range of sports, including the ‘newer’ individual ones and the more traditional team games
like rugby, cricket and hockey, in which we have always been strong.”
Facilitating individual sports has brought its own managerial challenges.
Mark explained: “Finding time to run individual sports as well as
traditional sports is much more feasible within the extended
day of a boarding school. In the lower years the curriculum can provide the balance between commitments to team sports, which clearly need a critical mass of participation to make them work, alongside opportunities to try newer sports.
“As pupils move through the school they then have more opportunity to make their own choices about where they are going to commit their time and energies. The reality is that it is dif cult to do everything that
is on offer across the whole curriculum and choices will have to made, but we want these to be positive decisions based upon the priority of one activity over another.”
Many of the newer sports require specialist skills and training
and resourcing is a factor. Increasingly this has to be considered in recruitment while at the same time looking at the cost effectiveness of offering any activity.
Mark said: “In my experience the success of any particular activity
comes down to the enthusiasm
of a member of staff and their ability to engage and properly instruct the pupils. So often you see a school  ying high in a particular sport or activity and invariably this is down to the energy and persistence of an individual who manages to light a  ame across the staff and pupils.
Fitting such a range of activities into the curriculum is dif cult but it is possible. Giggleswick’s solution is to recognise that a whole year group or division
(key stage) does not have to be doing the same thing at once. The school uses prep times to run some activities with a careful watch being taken by tutors to ensure academic work is still being given the right priority.
“It makes for a very busy day but one from which a great deal of enjoyment and variety can be gained,” added Mark.
Giggleswick’s move towards a greater variety of sports began as a gradual shift based upon the skill base of existing staff. To this was added the pupil voice and demands from them for particular sports.
Mark Turnbull with pupils
Mark explained: “When you live in such a stunning place you often attract staff who want to work in this environment because they want to enjoy the landscape in their time off. This means they are often already keen climbers or cyclists or riders. It has also meant that we have not had to buy in much extra expertise.
“That said, we always recruit the best teachers  rst, so occasionally, when a member of staff has moved on, we have not been
able to  nd the  t of classroom subject and activity skill which has meant buying in extra expertise. I am not convinced
this always works quite as well.
A visiting instructor doesn’t
have the bene t of seeing the children in the rest of the day and gauging their response or feeding their enthusiasm.
“Ultimately, sport is all about participation and personal development and, in particular, the character we encourage in pupils to give them the best opportunities beyond school – such as resilience, passion and a proactive, assured outlook on life.”
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