Sarah Burbidge, Shirenewton Primary
A Monmouthshire primary school teacher says that
sport is simply buzzing in her school - and it's all down to
creating a School Sports Council.
It has made such an impact - improving wellbeing,
confidence and levels of exercise - that Sarah Burbidge of
Shirenewton Primary School is now urging other schools to follow
She was completing the Sport Wales School Sport
Survey back in 2013 and one of the questions asked if we had a
School Sports Council and I thought, "No, we don't. Why ever
"We spoke to the Headteacher and Governors and
explained the impact on wellbeing it would have on the pupils and
then it was full steam ahead. It's been absolutely wonderful and
has had a bigger impact than I could ever have imagined.
"The biggest change was that we placed a much
greater importance on pupil voice. I would implore everyone to have
a Sports Council. It has made such a difference in terms of the
pupils' enjoyment of PE.
"The Sports Council now has a responsibility to
drive forward sport in our school. They suggest events and new
clubs and listen to suggestions from pupils."
Simple things like installing a suggestions board
means that pupils at Shirenewton are now having a greater say in
what sports they want to take part in:
"Dance is part of the curriculum and the boys are
not that keen. But this year, they've asked to do aPirates of the
Caribbeanthemed dance. We always try to do our best to accommodate
Children also have the opportunity to earn
certificates each week: "for teamwork, collaboration, that sort of
The Foundation Phase has this year enjoyed
lunchtime taster sessions in rugby and dodgeball: "They absolutely
love learning new skills!" says Sarah.
"The Sports Council children lead the Foundation
Phase sessions and they are also learning new skills in teaching
and leadership. They have grown in confidence."
"We have also started table tennis and athletics
clubs. It's all come about because of the survey and the
realisation we needed a focus group to champion sport. There is an
Eco Committee for example but there wasn't a group pushing sport
and coming up with ideas."
The school places a significant emphasis on health
and wellbeing. And Sarah says that pupils are undertaking much more
"We were shocked to see in the findings that there
were a significant number of children not feeling comfortable when
they were doing PE. So that's a big thing that we've pushed. I'll
be interested to see the results of that in the next survey.
"The Year 6s attitude towards PE has improved
significantly since they've been involved in some of the decision
making; they seem much happier and comfortable during PE sessions
and that is obviously very important to us."
Sarah says she has the survey to thank for ensuring
the pupil is heard: "They have been able to make decisions and
engage in activities which they wouldn't have been able to before.
The survey flags up things you weren't aware of before. At the end
of the day, as teachers, our job is to listen to the children and
improve their experiences as much as possible."
The 2015 School Sport Survey will aim
to ensure that the voice of young people remains at the forefront
of decision making. For this to happen we need as many young
people as possible to be taking part in the