Offering a variety of sports to engage all students

Many of today’s sports stars are known to have participated in a variety of sports during their school days. Lewis Hamilton, for example, enjoyed cricket at school and has even claimed that if he hadn’t had such success in motor sports, he would have pursued a career in football.

By exposing children to different sports, you can significantly increase the chances of them finding an individual talent or interest. Both the pupil and school will then experience the benefits of their participation in sport.

As head of PE at Skegness Grammar School, I want to offer all students as many opportunities as possible to get involved in sport, with the aim to engage all students in physical education.

This month, we are launching the ‘play your part’ initiative as part of our Sports and Enrichment programme. The primary objective of this is to get all our students involved in sports and other activities by encouraging them to try out a number of different clubs. The students will be given a card, which will be signed by the leader of each new club they attend. Once they’ve received five signatures, they are entered into a prize draw. We expect the scheme will help to motivate more children to have a go, even those who have shown little interest in participation in the past.

Not every child enjoys football or netball so our sports department is using this initiative to raise the profile of other sports in the school. We have a variety of activities on offer including karting, rowing and running, as well as general ‘get fit’ programmes.

Karting has been particular successful in engaging some of our more challenging students. Every year, we take part in the British Schools Karting Championship (BSKC). This is the largest schools karting competition in the UK offering schools and colleges the chance to enter teams of three pupils aged 13 to18, who will compete against other schools.

BSKC-AB2One of the key advantages is that students do not need any equipment or previous experience to be involved. We travel to our local participating karting track in Peterborough and the children are provided with everything they need to go racing. All teams are given a practice session before competing in the local race against other schools in the area. If they are successful at this point, they can go on to compete in the regional qualifying races with the chance to win a place in the national final.

Last year, we had a couple of boys who were often disruptive in class and showed no interest in sport. When the opportunity to enter the BSKC came up, they were instantly very keen to be involved. Knowing that participation in the event was at risk if they misbehaved in class motivated them to ‘up their game’. Involvement in the competition also provided them with some positive notoriety in school, which was much more constructive for them than being regarded as ‘scallywags’ by their peers. Overall, the involvement in the competition had a really positive impact on the boys’ self confidence, both in and out of the classroom.

This year, we’ve decided to increase the number of karting teams we are entering into the BSKC from two to five. Yet again, one of the teams consists of three boys who had never participated in any school club but were really excited about trying out karting. It has been great to see their positive attitude and I’m sure the experience will encourage them to try out other activities.

BSKC-AB3Another boy who is involved in BSKC 2013, and was just old enough by four days to enter this year, is already showing a real talent for motor sports. During his races in the local final, he displayed a real ability to plan a race strategy, skilfully steering the kart and demonstrating awareness of what was happening around him. It will be interesting to see how he does in the regional final, which he secured a place in along with his two teammates. It is very exciting for him to have found something he’s really good at and incredibly rewarding for the school too.

Involvement in competitive sports like karting encourages children to work as a team, both inside and outside lessons. Additionally, they learn the value of persistence, practice and patience, which are important skills in all aspects of their life.

Most crucially, involvement in karting has had a massive effect on all the participants’ self-confidence. The students have grown as individuals and are more willing to put real effort into everything they try. It is testament to the importance of offering a wide variety of sports as part of your PE curriculum.

This post was contributed by Amanda Black, Head of Physical Education and Sport at Skegness Grammar School, Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom. Amanda is currently the British Women’s Racing Drivers Champion 2012.

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