A recent news story highlighted nearly a quarter of young people believe that playing a computer game constitutes a form of exercise; the study warned that children are becoming “hostages” to handheld devices.
The research, published by the Youth Sport Trust, raised serious concerns about the physical fitness of today’s young people and says that PE and school sport are at a “critical crossroads” in terms of ensuring children’s mental and physical well-being.
Leading independent school Barnard Castle School has a history of producing world-class athletes with professional rugby players such as Rory and Tony Underwood, Rob Andrew, Alex Grey and Mathew Tait taking their first steps into sport at the County Durham based school.
This summer, four of Barney’s pupils picked up medals in the County athletics meet and three qualified for the nationals.
Even though Barney produces some of Britain’s best athletes, it also concentrates on being inclusive, with over 84% of its pupils representing the school in competitive sporting fixtures since September 2014.
Mr Martin T Pepper, Sports Director at Barnard Castle School
Martin Pepper, Sports Director at Barnard Castle School shares some tips on how schools can get all their pupils active.
Martin said: “We aim to get everyone involved in sport at Barney and to do this there are certain ingredients which are essential:
It's got to be fun, well organised and consistent
It has got be delivered with enthusiasm and passion
It must be presented as something which is worthwhile (keep your body in shape, help you concentrate at school, make you feel happy thanks to endorphins, help you live longer)
The appropriate ability level and level of intensity relative to the pupils concerned is crucial - children need to feel they have achieved something
It’s good to get non-games staff to help coach teams so pupils can see that sport is for everyone and it helps build on staff’s rapport with pupils
Having a house system in the school encourages leadership, pride and team work as well as a sense of belonging
Good coaches are key, we encourage pupils to join local clubs which helps them see the bigger picture in terms of their ability and the opportunities that are out there when you decide to get involved in a sport
Technology can be a useful tool in the classroom. If you have equipment to film parts of lessons (GoPros are good) you can analyse technique afterwards. Filming competitive matches is a useful resource too when you want to give players feedback. We use Dartfish software to analyse sporting performance. Our Strength and Conditioning coaches also use training apps to keep in contact with pupils via their phones, providing them with training programmes and the ability to keep records of training sessions
“Pupils at Barnard Castle School have five games lessons in their timetable each week, so it’s embedded in our culture and we keep it consistent to give them the chance to try lots of different sports.
“We run an Activity programme between 4-5pm each afternoon when more specific team coaching can take place, pupils can have over 6 hours a week of sporting activity if they choose to and then Saturday is 'match day'.”