A few weeks ago, we announced the nine winners of our Active School Awards 2021.
The Active School Awards recognised how schools across South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire kept physical education, school sport and physical activity at the heart of school life during the last 12 months. There were nine district winners from across the two counties, with two overall county winners.
The district winners were chosen by our PE, school sport and physical activity team, with a panel including Sue Wilkinson MBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Physical Education, choosing the overall county winners.
Here, we take a look at the winning schools from West Yorkshire.
New Road Primary – West Yorkshire and Calderdale winner
In choosing a winner, the panel praised the school for considering all aspects of children’s wellbeing, and demonstrating the impact of what they did not only in physical activity levels, but how it had a positive effect on behaviour, concentration and resilience among the pupils. The school put their pupils physical and mental wellbeing as one of their priorities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They organised three wellbeing weeks during the school year, including one during lockdown which included daily activity challenges.
Pupils were taken on nature walks in the local community, took part in a virtual sports day, and re-introduced sports clubs at the earliest opportunity, encouraging staff to share their own sporting passions with pupils by leading the sessions. In addition, the school created opportunities for all pupils that extended beyond academic skills, in particular for disadvantaged pupils who had opportunities to develop and discover new interests and talents.
Since returning to school following lockdown, the school has noted an improved attitude to learning, attributed in no small part to the sport and physical activity that is available.
Burley and Woodhead CofE Primary School – Bradford winner
Burley and Woodhead were praised by the judges for the variety of activities they made available to children, including non-traditional school sports including archery, New Age Kurling and golf, which provided opportunities for children not engaged in more traditional activities.
During lockdown, the school recorded their own live lessons to supplement other online learning in PE, with the school receiving hundreds of photos from children taking part each week. Children were also provided the opportunity to represent the school in competitive sport by taking part in the virtual cross country league. As well as keeping the children active while away from school, the lessons provided a connection to the school and their classmates while isolated at home. The school is planning a circus day in July, to develop children’s coordination and balance in a fun and engaging way.
Orchard Primary Academy – Kirklees winner
In choosing Orchard Primary Academy as the Kirklees winner, the panel praised the way in which the school includes active learning throughout all subjects and embeds physical activity throughout the school day. This includes the Orchard Skate Park, which sees the school open the gates at 8.15am, twice a week, with the school having invested in ramps and obstacles so that the children can come into the playground early and do stunts, practice their balance skills or simply ride their scooters or bikes around with friends. Some sessions have seen more than 60 children arriving at school early to make the most of the opportunity.
In addition, the school created a new PE curriculum to respond to the challenges arising from the pandemic, with a significant focus on the social, mental and cognitive elements of physical education.
Thorpe Primary School – Leeds winner
Thorpe Primary School were praised for their needs-led response to the pandemic, including specific ways to engage children identified as standing to benefit the most. The school brought activity into other subjects including geography, where a daily mile was part of a project about the local community. The routes taken were shared with parents and carers to encourage activity out of school.
During the January lockdown, pupils were set weekly PE challenges that were celebrated on the school social media channels. These included walks, games, skill-based challenges, HIIT and cardio challenges, and also family challenges. In addition, pupils and families were provided with mindfulness opportunities, such as Yoga Bugs.
Middlestown Primary School – Wakefield winner
In naming Middlestown Primary Academy as district winners for Wakefield, Yorkshire Sport Foundation praised the school for adapting to lockdown by making best use of technology and social media to continue to provide opportunities to be active for children at home. This included challenging families to draw pictures by tracking walks using the popular walking, running and cycling tracking app, Strava.
Staff also adapted PE lessons so children could complete them at home without equipment, and physical activity was used to promote mental wellbeing by taking part in initiatives such as, ‘England Does The Daily Mile’.