Meet Our Winners - Active School Award
Our Active School Champion
They have the heavy responsibility of helping to prepare our children for the big, wide world. The privilege to see them grow and develop into the most wonderful versions of themselves. The pleasure of watching them play and learn independently. The challenge of giving them strong foundations on which to build their futures. Outside of family, schools arguably have the biggest, constant presence in a child’s life.
So, when it comes to positively influencing the next generation to include and enjoy physical activity regularly – what better place to start than the classroom – or rather, outside it?
For St Nicholas C.E Primary Academy in Boston, the winner of the Active School Award, Sponsored by Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, at the the Lincolnshire Sport & Physically Active Awards 2023, a renewed focus on improving the opportunity for accessible and inclusive activities, to let each and every child shine, has had some seriously surprising results.
Ask a student studying at St Nicholas C.E Primary Academy what the current sports and activity offering is like, and you’ll hear that – over the last year - the school has gone from having limited opportunities to giving pupils multiple opportunities to participate; five weekly afterschool sports clubs; five weekly lunchtime sports clubs with intra-school competitions; nine inter-school competitions; eight development days (including two change for life events for vulnerable children and three SEND events), including daily physical activity during collective worship and sensory circuits in the morning; four events specifically promoting girls’ sport; and playground leaders to increase physical activity throughout break and lunchtime, all readily accessible.
Based in an area of Lincolnshire with high deprivation and obesity rates, improving the sporting opportunities open to children alongside the school’s ability to embrace the values and resilience that participating in sports teaches us, has been the long game for headteacher Fiona Booth and her faculty.
Despite rebuilding the curriculum from the ground up in regard to physical activity and education when the school was academized in 2019 – a move which saw St Nicholas C.E Primary join the Infinity Academies Trust - the school still wasn’t competing; locally, regionally or nationally.
Speed through three years, a global pandemic, remote learning and all the related challenges we’re all too familiar with, and 2022 signalled a change of pace for the Boston school.
A NEW CHAPTER FOR ST. NICHOLAS
For Assistant Head Teacher, Tom Bell, bringing a sense of sporting achievement back to the school has been something of a personal goal.
“We’ve had such a positive year; it feels as though we’ve really unlocked a door to truly inclusive activity and achievement that doesn’t just rely on academia,” explains Tom.
“In everything we do, we aim to ‘let our light shine’ so that everyone can be the best that they can be and fulfil their potential. Sport offers up a further opportunity for our children to let their light shine. We know that, for some children, holding on to the fact that they get to be active is what gets them through the day, through that next class. With the variety in skills, talents, and abilities that we have here, the introduction of this new programme really has been game-changing.”
THE SPORTING KEY TO A BRIGHTER, FITTER, FUTURE
Opening doors to the opportunities that await students of all ages, girls-only sports, SEND events, and intraschool tournaments, allowing those children who don’t want to compete at a higher level the chance to challenge themselves and participate, it will come as no surprise that St Nicholas’ have had students represent Great Britain in Italy at the World Karate Championships and England and Lincolnshire in Street Dance competitions too.
The increase in students taking up sports isn’t just reserved for the school setting either. Since the additional provisions have been introduced, there has been a huge increase in children taking part in sporting events outside of school. Something the children are keen to share with their classmates, and the rest of the school, during ‘shine time’ (celebration assembly).
“Very rarely is there a shine time where we don’t have a sports award being shown off by a child,” Tom adds. “They are so eager to share what they have achieved outside of school, proving that even outside of the academic environment children are taking these lessons of activity away with them.
“You can see that there’s a bigger shift happening here. The enjoyment and love of sport are being nurtured. It’s about understanding that win or lose, we’re able to give each other a pat on the shoulder at the end of the day. We’re seeing a new level of understanding and camaraderie unfold daily, children finding the joy in just taking part and in knowing and accepting that we can’t all be good at everything, that we each have our own skills and that they should be acknowledged and celebrated.
“The truly wonderful thing?” asked Tom. “It isn’t just the children - their parents and family members are on board too. They’ve taken the sports offering and approach we have instilled within the school and embraced it at home too.
“There is just so much sense in simply being active, from the benefits to our mental health to our overall wellbeing and physical health, the community spirit it stirs up and the healthy competition it invites, for us the academic alignment around all of these issues is priceless.”
THERE’S MORE TO COME TO KEEP KIDS MOVING
The demand and appetite for more from the world of sport exists, and the children at St Nicholas’ are hungry for it. With a desire for the opportunity and the drive to support each other in making the most out of it, the future for activity at this trailblazing school is bright. Blinding, in fact.
“What’s next? Well, we’ll be continuing the level of participation, and adding to the curriculum,” confirms Tom. “Being active and experiencing sport is such an important building block in personal development, that it cannot be overlooked.”
With additional initiatives such as Maths on the Move, extending the provision for inclusivity, introducing playground leaders, and continuing to reinforce the nationwide agenda in regard to activity, the school year ahead is set to be a busy one in Boston.
Thank you to Active School Award Sponsor Lincolnshire Agricultural Society for supporting this award.
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