June 14, 2014
Minister visits school near Burnham to see activity project in action

The Minister for Children and Families visited a school near Burnham-On-Sea this week to see how an activity project is benefiting pupils there.

The staff and children of Pawlett School received a special visit from the Minister for Families and Children, Edward Timpson.

The MP joined Dean Horridge of Fit For Sport, a group that aims to engage and educate children, young people and families through activity, and Head Teacher Anne Goodison to view a special ‘Engage to Compete’ session by the pupils. The Minister also joined in the fun activities.

The ‘Engage to Compete’ pilot programme was originally funded by Sport England and delivered by Fit For Sport in 2013 at the school and at other schools across Somerset and Manchester.

Fit For Sport and the Minister visited the school to view the legacy left behind with staff and pupils since the pilot programme ended and talk about the changes seen in the development of children with this ‘whole-school’ approach to activity.

The programme set out to develop confidence and skills of children to ensure they can find the pathway easier between school sport/activity.

The key to the programme was the combination of training and support, training not only PE staff, but also support staff to deliver structured, fun, enjoyable physical activities.

The activity was not limited to PE lessons but delivered throughout the full school day, typically in the playground during lunch and break times for all children.

The Minister said of his visit: "It was a fantastic experience to visit Pawlett School and really understand how the ‘Engage to Compete’ programme can make a difference in pupil’s lives, giving them a fun, engaging pathway into activity and sport."

"Programmes like ‘Engage to Compete’ are successful because they really help the entire school engage in activity, rather than just the sporty children, and the engagement from the kids that I’ve seen has been excellent, they enjoyed the sessions, had smiles on their faces and most importantly, everyone could take part and got active, and this is exactly what we need the next generation to be doing."

Dean Horridge, CEO of Fit For Sport and Chair of Compass Association, commented on the success of the pilot programme: "By providing training, support and resources, Engage to Compete enables schools to continue the activity programme – and indeed build upon it, long into the future, which is definitely what we saw today at Pawlett School today."

"Investment in school sport provides a welcome injection of cash, but for changes to be sustainable, a programme must take a longer view and seek to empower schools and inspire all pupils to get active – and stay active. That is what makes the Engage to Compete programme stand out and why schools can continue to adopt a 'whole-school' approach to physical activity."

Over the six-month programme at the school last year, Head of PE Sally Plume found that the programme was hugely beneficial in a number of different ways, such as increasing the activity provision offered to all pupils, increasing the pupil – mix in participation, particularly those who sometimes were a little reluctant to participate in activities, and helping older pupils learn the importance of routine and praise.

Anne Goodison, Head Teacher of Pawett School, added: "It was a real surprise and a wonderful opportunity for the pupils at Pawlett Primary School to meet the Minister and of course welcome back Fit for Sport. They were visiting the school to discover how funding from “The Engage to Compete” Programme had been implemented in building a legacy for Pawlett School."

"Our small village Primary School has been committed to encouraging children to participate in Physical Educational activities for many years; taking advantage of working with partner schools, a number of clubs as well as individual sports and dance instructors. But our involvement with “Engage to Compete” has enabled us to have access to a structure which we could adapt to suit our needs. We intend to continue with this programme in future years; to make it part of the fabric and culture of the school and we thank both Fit For Sport and Edward Timpson for a wonderful day."

Pictures and video: The Minister visiting the school (pics: Jason Adams)

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