Skip to main content

Telephone 015395 60060

Expert, independent advice on all areas of sports programmes and staffing

Advisory Services for Stimulating School Sport

We have worked with nearly 100 schools over the last 15 years to improve the leadership and management of sports and physical activity programmes.  In a changing landscape of school sport, it is important that programmes justify the considerable investment, and impact positively on all pupils and parents. 

All advisory work is bespoke to the needs of individual schools, and begins with a discussion of aims and success criteria.

Typically, this involves a school visit of several days, to examine the school’s sports programme in detail, and to interview staff, students and often parents as well.  A detailed report will indicate strengths and weaknesses, and outline possible routes forward.

Experienced consultants are available to advise on all aspects of physical education, sports, extra curricular activities, facilities, staffing and pupil recruitment. This service is available to schools throughout the world.

Examples include:

  • Reviewing PE and Games provision
  • Preparing for Inspection
  • Creating a coherent games programme
  • Satisfying parental demands
  • Integrating Games with Physical Education
  • Introducing exam PE
  • Developing elite sport
  • Appraising the Director of Sport
  • Running a Sports Scholarship programme
  • Modernising the facilities
  • Generating commercial income from sport
  • Developing relationships with feeder schools

Call 01539 60060 or in confidence to explore possibilities.

Latest blog articles

What's the Future for School Swimming?

Posted Friday, 24 January 2020

Facilities for swimming in schools are better than they have ever been.  Pools were a primary weapon in the arms race of development.   Many schools have beautiful, bright, inspiring pools, and changing facilities to match.  Rare now is the grim, dark and cold forbidding swimming environment of the mid-twentieth century.

It would be reasonable to assume that this has heralded a new era of enthusiasm for this activity.  But this would be wrong.  In most schools, there is less swimming than previously, especially among teenage pupils.  With an obligation to maximise facility use, teachers in charge of school swimming face an uphill task.

The ability to swim is an uncontroversial aim for every school.  It is surprising therefore, that so few schools can boast that every one of their pupils can swim 100 metres of a recognised stroke.  And that so few pupils opt for swimming where it appears as an option within the games programme.

Competitive swimming clouds the landscape.  Historical programmes were based on this, and facilities for this activity are often amazing.  Touch timing devices produce times to several decimal places and could ratify world records.  But the number of schools that have a vibrant programme of competitive swimming is extremely small – and diminishing.  Whilst the standards at national competitions remain high, this is often because club swimmers who have embraced the extreme levels of training required to excel in this activity have briefly swapped their club hats for school ones.  Matches between schools are often between incomplete, or hastily assembled, teams.  Press gangs are often necessary to complete the team.  This is not entirely surprising, when the experience often involves travelling for an hour, sitting on the poolside for another hour in order to swim a single two length race.  It’s an outdated offer for the modern pupil.

Added to this is the reluctance of body-conscious teenagers to subject themselves to the scrutiny that swimming costumes expose.  Combined with an aversion to wet hair, many older pupils will go to considerable lengths to avoid the school pool, however appealing it looks in the prospectus.  At the same time, swimming has become the fitness activity of choice for many adults.  It’s a perverse irony.

What is the future?  School swimming needs to re-boot itself, and clarify its rationale.  Shifting the focus away from competition, and the extreme training that accompanies it, swimming needs to re-invent itself as a life skill and fitness activity.  This will require a much more creative approach - to present the activity in a more engaging way, and to be more inventive in the range of aquatic activities available.  Success in swimming should go beyond a tiny number of pupils swimming 50 metres under Olympic rules in a time that is good for 50 metres.  The number of pupils who choose to visit the pool in the week, the take up of aquatic based options in the games programme, and the range of popular pool-based activities are all at least as important, often more so.  The number of Sixth Formers who swim regularly would be another strong indication of a successful programme.

View details

Is January Really the Best Time for Outdoor Netball?

Posted Friday, 17 January 2020

Netball in UK is on the crest of a wave.  This follows the unprecedented success of the national team, and a widely televised home World Cup played in front of packed crowds.  It has a higher profile than ever before, and this is reflected in the popularity of the youth game in clubs and schools.

It has a lot of advantages over the other team games played by girls in schools.  It doesn’t require the same specialist facilities as Hockey, and the entry level of skill is lower than both Hockey and Lacrosse.  Only Soccer rivals it for accessibility, and Netball is much longer established.  The game is easily understood, and can be satisfactorily played at a range of ages and skill levels.  Its introductory version, High Fives, provides a transition to the complexities of the full game.

Most of the countries in the world who play this game have warm climates.  Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi.  It is a game which suits a warm environment. At the higher levels, it is an indoor game.  The court is small, and movement is structurally restricted by the rules.  Uniquely, players can’t move when in possession of the ball.  It is the only game where shots at goal are made by a stationary player.  It is made for a genial environment

In the UK, however, it is a winter game - played predominantly outdoors.  The season proper in co-ed schools starts in the first week in January.  Outdoors.  The first two weeks of term have been cold, wet and windy.  Any progress and enjoyment will have been despite the environment, not because of it.  Goal Shooters and Goal Keepers, sentenced to inhabit a small circle, will have spent a lot of time standing still. 

The outfit doesn’t help either.  The skimpiest dresses imaginable, designed for the indoor game and warm climates, provide little protection against the bleak mid-winter.  Protective additions are often frowned upon.  It’s great testament to the appeal of the game that many girls are still keen to play despite all this.  Inadequately clothed girls are still turning up in Arctic conditions for after school practices on outdoor courts in the dark. 

Why is it done like this?  There can be few people who believe that this is the best Netball experience that can be devised.  It is largely because of the power of status quo.  It’s always been done like this.  When boys’ schools became co-educational, it was the vacant part of the calendar once the Hockey pitches reverted to use by boys.  The national competitions run through the winter – but that is a choice that the game makes.

Given the option, when would Netball enthusiasts probably choose to play the game?  Probably in May and June, when it’s light, bright and warm.  And it's a pleasure to be outside.  The clothing might be more appropriate for this time of year.  Ironically, this is the stage of the school year when girls’ sports alternatives are least satisfactory.  There is an urgent need for a game that is more active than Rounders, more engaging than Field Athletics, with a lower entry level of skill than Tennis and shorter duration than Cricket.  Netball and Soccer are the outstanding candidates for this position.

Radical thinking, and sector collaboration, would be necessary to achieve this.  So, it’s probably not imminent.

Written by Neil Rollings, January 2020

View details