Sometimes it takes the removal of something for one to understand its full value and, for me, the School Sports Partnerships (SSPs) are a prime example of this.
South Bromsgrove High School was closely involved in this government-funded initiative that set up partnerships across the country including in our area, north Worcestershire.
SSPs brought together staff from primary, secondary and special schools and provided PE and school sports planning and co-ordination, training and joint projects.
However, once central funding was axed we were unable to secure funding from other sources to keep our SSP going. Some of the links remained and schools continued to work together informally, but activities were fragmented and many fewer were taking place.
Initially, I felt that the closure affected the primary schools much more than a large secondary school such as South Bromsgrove. We had impressive facilities and equipment, and specialist staff qualified in PE and sports teaching. However, I started to realise that the SSP had actually helped us to:
Strengthen ties with our feeder schools.
Give opportunities for our students to work with students from different schools.
Provide younger children with access to high-quality PE and sports from an early age which ensured that there was a well-developed pipeline of talented sports people at secondary.
Establish a strong foundation for PE and sport in the local area.
The All Active Academy
In 2013, the government announced that it would be giving most primary schools £8,000 per year, plus an additional £5 per pupil, to support PE and sport in the form of the so-called Sports Premium. The government is spending more than £450 million on the scheme, which is currently planned to run up until 2015/16.
It was clear to me that the funding would stretch further if the primary schools in our area pooled their individual Sports Premiums. I also felt this was an opportunity to establish a new partnership that could support primary schools and offer everyone greater benefits.
The outcome of this was that the All Active Academy was set up with the buy-in of all 19 primary feeder schools. It also had financial support from South Bromsgrove and two special schools. The aim was to provide a more comprehensive and planned PE and sports offering to our local primary schools.
How it works
Each primary school receives a service level agreement, which entitles them to a wide range of PE and sports activities, competitions and training, including:
Training to support leadership, SEN, and the use of PE as a means for cross-curricular learning.
Training in specific aspects of PE such as gymnastics, dance or tennis.
Access to local competitions and festivals and help to run intra-school competitions.
Teaching resources and access to equipment.
Provision for gifted and talented students.
Provision for students with SEN.
Sign-posting and information on local and national initiatives and networks.
A small strategic team, including our local School Games co-ordinator and myself, manages the All Active Academy. There is also a larger steering group with teacher representatives from a number of schools. This ensures that the services offered are relevant and helps us to make plans for the future.
As part of the scheme each primary school is allocated an experienced PE teacher from the secondary and middle schools that are also part of the All Active Academy. They act as a link person to provide a point of contact and offer support.
The Academy has made the money that government gives to primary schools stretch further and, in doing so, has benefited the primary schools enormously. Working together also means we can bid for extra funding, take the lead in running local projects, and get greater access to sports coaches.
From the perspective of South Bromsgrove, the Academy means that we are able to build much stronger links with our feeder schools. The teachers and children know the school through the many PE and sporting activities that we host. This means we can provide a better transition for all of the primary students that join our school.
The Academy has benefited our students at South Bromsgrove much more than we initially expected. The stronger ties have made it easier for students to work with younger children on a range of projects. The Academy means students can develop projects on a larger scale, and have more of an impact. It has also encouraged students to work more often with primary schools. It is a brilliant way for students to see the difference they can make.
A good example is our work on Get Set to Make a Change, the education programme organised by the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association, which encourages young people to get more involved in their local communities.
Our students have trained to become “Legacy Leaders” and pledged to introduce a range of sports at the primary schools. This has given them a chance to improve their planning and organisational skills and, as they lead activities and coach one-to-one, they develop their confidence and become better leaders. In turn this can make a difference in their engagement, behaviour and progress at school.
Understanding the value
The All Active Academy has helped us to work with our primary feeder schools to ensure they can provide high-quality PE and sports.
As a huge advocate for sport it is important to South Bromsgrove to support and nurture this in other schools. However, the closure of the SSP also showed us that the benefits go in both directions. Our existing students benefit enormously from getting involved in the Academy, and our work with our feeder primary schools means that we are helping to secure an enthusiasm for PE and sport in the future students of South Bromsgrove.
I am confident that I really appreciate the value of the All Active Academy and that this time I won’t need to experience its absence to understand its value.
Caroline Sidell is assistant headteacher at South Bromsgrove High School and writes extensively on PE and sport. In 2009 she was awarded the National Sunday Times PE Teacher of the Year.
- So far, as part of the Get Set to Make a Change programme, more than 200 projects led by young people known as Legacy Leaders have taken place across the UK focused on sports participation and a healthy and balanced lifestyle. For ideas and resources, visit http://makeachange.org.uk/resources/
- For more on the All Active Academy, visit www.allactiveacademy.org.uk