With the help of his new school and a programme called Inclusion 2024, led by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, he is being supported to try new things and find his love for sport again.
Billy, who now attends St Martins School and specialist setting Horizons in Derbyshire, said: “In my old school I wasn't allowed to do much sport and PE. My Tourette's & ADHD got me into trouble, and I was stopped from doing the things I like and am good at like running & football. When I went to sports clubs outside of school, I had bad experiences so stopped going after a few weeks.
“At St Martins and now Horizons, I have lots of opportunities to exercise and play sport. It really helps me with my tics and to focus on my work. Seeing other students with similar needs to mine competing in sports is really inspiring. One of my friends at Horizons is now doing sports and fitness coaching and I would love to follow in his footsteps. I hope to be a good role model for other students and have learnt some Makaton signs to encourage younger students who struggle with their speech to take part in the SHOUTaboutSEND 5K.
“I was really proud to win gold in the national athletics championships, something I never thought I'd achieve, and my dream is to represent my country in the 800m one day.”
Funding from the Department for Education is supporting the Youth Sport Trust and a consortium of organisations to work with 5,000 schools including St Martins to improve provision of PE for 150,000 young people, through inclusive training, advice and guidance.
A key part of Inclusion 2024 will see more young people empowered to lead play and sport among their peers. Data taken from the charity’s landmark ‘Class of 2035’ report shows this is an especially powerful way to help overcome barriers for young people with SEND. Not only that, but all young people now increasingly want to see PE and sport led by people their own age.
The findings revealed that:
- 54% of children would like to do more exercise or sport than they are currently doing (up from 44% in 2014)
- Over a third (36%) would prefer to be taught by someone their own age. This increases to 46% for those with a disability
- 45% said they would do more PE if their school facilities were better (up from 31% 2014)
As more stories like Billy’s emerge, concern increases about children with and without disabilities switching off from sport and increasing levels of childhood obesity. The Youth Sport Trust has said if more schools, clubs and organisations were to try methods used by Inclusion 2024, the tide could be turned on childhood inactivity.
Vicci Wells, Head of Sport and Inclusion at the Youth Sport Trust, said:
“Much more needs to be done to ensure that children with special educational needs and disabilities, and those without, receive the encouragement and support they require to achieve their desired levels of activity.
“Some young people with SEND, like Billy, are telling us not all schools offer the same experience in PE lessons and through the school sport system as those children without disabilities. We now know through research and listening to young people how important it is for them to try sport with their peers or be taught by someone their own age.
“Inclusion 2024 is providing schools with more support and training for staff to ensure all children have a high-quality experience of school sport and PE. It will make a difference to thousands of young lives.”
Inclusion 2024 has an increased focus on working with Pupil Referral Units. It is also delivering Paralympic and Commonwealth Games-inspired inclusive sport programmes in every county in preparation for next summer’s Games.
Alistair Crawford, teaching school strategic lead at St Martins School in Derby, said:
“As teachers and coaches, we have the amazing opportunity to engage, motivate and inspire the learners we work with to lead active, healthy lifestyles and develop a passion for movement and sport. Our students take ownership of their learning, from choosing their own sports & sensory sanctuary to training to be sports leaders and even planning and delivering inclusive sports events on a local and national scale!
“Empowering young people to support their peers leads to positive, sustainable outcomes that impact into adulthood and way beyond the school gates.”
To read the Class of 2035 report carried out by Foresight Factory on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust, and its recommendations for supporting the Class of 2035 to be among the healthiest and happiest in the world, please visit www.youthsporttrust.org/Classof2035.