Peaple Power

By Derek Peaple, Youth Sport Trust Headteacher Ambassador

Peaple Power

There is no 'I' in team. It is a widely used phrase but it could not be more appropriate following my nomination for the TES Headteacher of the Year Award. My nomination is a collective celebration of all that 'Team Park House' has done to deliver a holistic vision for our students' learning and personal development based on the values and wider lessons of PE and school sport.

I've blogged a bit about this sporting 'values driven ambition' before for the Youth Sport Trust. The focus then was on how we provided the framework for three related areas of our provision: curriculum enrichment, social, moral, spiritual and cultural education (SMSC), and international partnership working. This has of course all continued but recently it has further widened to additionally shape our approach to character development, high performance and the critical link between physical and emotional wellbeing.

In terms of character development, our new Year 7 students' first day at secondary school is shaped by the motivation, drive and ambition provided by the visit of an Olympic or Paralympic athlete - last year inspirationally personified by the wonderful Great Britain hockey player and Youth Sport Trust athlete mentor Alex Danson.

Our sport issues themed debating programme is designed to build confidence; our 'From Games Maker to Learning Maker' programme encourages sixth formers to volunteer to work with younger students, supporting their learning and progress across the curriculum; and our girls sixth form rugby programme enables students combine their academic studies with the character building effects of training and high level competition.    

On the theme of high performance, we are now systematically using approaches from elite sport to drill down into the behaviours and attitudes that also shape academic success. We look at what makes a high performing mathematician, historian, computer scientist, and geographer for example.

Similarly, my recent pre-exam assemblies drew on author James Kerr's Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach us about the Business of Life, seeking to apply his analysis of the key features of the All Blacks success to students' revision, mindset and technique. I implored them to 'sweep the sheds', 'follow the spearhead', 'keep a blue head' and 'leave the jersey in a better place'!

Crucially, this emphasis on sport-inspired high performance is accompanied by the counterbalancing effects of linking physical and emotional wellbeing. An Active Movement initiative has promoted more standing in lessons, group walks in tutor time and curricular references to 'movement' in subjects such as history, music and art to reinforce key messages about positive behaviour change and healthy lifestyle. And, of course, all 'active movements' earn additional house points!

From September we will even have an Active Wellbeing Co-ordinator, whose explicit job will be 'to support, develop and improve young people's emotional well-being through increased physical activity.'

So, the TES award nomination references innovation and inspiration; these are provided in spades by an amazing school community - a united and high performing team - who together shape a vision for whole school provision and learning shaped by the positive influence of PE and sport.

There really is no I in team.

Derek Peaple is headteacher of Park House School in Newbury, Berkshire. Find out more about the Youth Sport Trust’s Headteacher Ambassadors.