Outstanding Primary Practice

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Awarded to a primary school that has used PE, sport and play to build a foundation for learning through prioritising the health and happiness of their young people.

Winner - Curwen Primary School, Newham

Photo of winners at awards evening

Curwen Primary School in Newham is part of the Tapscott Multi Academy Trust and is a Youth Sport Trust member school who recently have been awarded the Gold Quality Mark. The Quality Mark has allowed them to audit, identify and celebrate their strengths as a school, while identifying their action and development plan for the year. The school has a strong vision for PE, School Sport & Physical Activity (PESSPA) and this is widely understood by staff across the school.

As with all other core subjects, PE has its own action plan linked to the whole school development plan. PE and school sport is seen as a hook for the school to develop important relationships with parents and families. Opportunities for parents to watch, play and engage with their children alongside teachers presents a unique opportunity to build trust. Parents are then more open to approaching the school when they need help or have an issue and it is also easier for the school to have a conversation with the parents around their child’s development if they have previously engaged in something positive on the school site.

PE is fully inclusive, where all students are given the opportunity to learn alongside their peers. The curriculum is carefully considered, sequenced and revisits learning from previous years. Every child receives two hours of high-quality PE a week, taught in one-hour slots. Children come to school in their PE kits which has enabled more time for learning to take place within the timetabled slot. There is a consistent approach to assessment across the school, with PE using the same systems.

The school are engaged in the Sporthub, a collective of 13 schools and nurseries in East London which provides regular opportunities for competition, Continuous Professional Development and networking. Activities are open to all students, with targeted events to engage the least active.

Lunchtime supervisors receive regular training to promote active break and lunchtimes. The playground is designed to stimulate activity, including timetabled dedicated time for certain groups to use the sports hall. A good example of this is the dedicated girls only football session and there are also organised lunchtime clubs, like the 'Girls Active' club.

Sports Leaders are a highly sought after position within the school, with a formal recruitment and training process. The position sees students who are not typically high performers, but students that wish to develop their leadership skills and support others. The Sports Leaders support lunchtime activity activation among other roles within the school.

The school wanted to focus on getting more children confident in cycling, with more students achieving their level one and two Bikeability award. Cycling on the curriculum was introduced in September 2023 with the feedback from pupil voice contributing to its inclusion. Early Years Foundation Stage learn the basics through the Bikeability programme with progression planned in years one to three. The focus on cycling within the curriculum compliments the Friday bike club which sees a large number of families accessing a dedicated club onsite.

Continually monitoring students result led the PE department to start to deliver football and fitness classes to boys and girls separately. They had noticed the behaviour and attitudes of the year five girls were poor and motivation levels were dropping and engagement in PE was suffering. They saw a change was needed. The lessons are now split with a female teacher taking the girls, and a male teacher with the boys, offering an opportunity for wider role modelling. So far, the school are seeing a positive impact and are reviewed as part of an ongoing cycle.

Highly Commended - Brooklands Middle School, Bedfordshire

Brooklands Middle School’s PE provision is outstanding with the curriculum covering over 30 different sports in the academic year, running over 100 clubs and taking part in all local fixtures at all levels. Over 79% of the school attended an after-school sports club or Intra School Games Events last year and 63% of the school took part in an organised fixture. The school have been awarded the Gold Quality Mark for the last three years and achieved the Platinum School Games mark for the last four years.

Post pandemic, resilience is an area the school has found a challenge for its pupils, so to help tackle this they have organised events such as a BMX academy workshop. They learn stunts and also some of the students learn how to ride a bike. The pupils love this so much that in literacy some of them wrote about the day, producing some of the best work of the year.

Each year through co-design and the student voice panel, the school work with underrepresented groups to choose a different sport to introduce through workshops, trying to make sure every pupil has access to sport and an opportunity to be active. Previously they have had football freestyle and circus skills - this year there is a trick basketball workshop planned. To make sure everyone has the opportunity to access exercise, all Pupil Premium & Free School Meals students were given specific equipment that they identified would help them stay active.

The school was successful with the Opening Schools Facilities grant and has now installed two climbing walls. These walls have been used to engage families with school, allowing vulnerable families time together, the Holiday Activity Food Camp programmes are now also using the wall. The school has engaged with local community police who are training eight of their staff to use the wall, helping to re-engage young people and to build relationships with the community through exercise and climbing.

The school celebrates students’ achievement and commitment in lessons by holding a celebration evening with a guest speaker who attends to speak to the students and inspire them. Last year the England rugby player Rocky Clark attended, handing out over 300 certificates, 30 trophies and over 150 medals across the evening. It is a real celebration of sport.

Highly Commended - St Katharine’s School, Bournemouth

St. Katharine’s school vision is ‘Forever Flourishing’. Central to the vision is the importance of wellbeing and that the whole person is made up of Head (mental health and learning), Heart (spirituality and relationships) and Hands (physical health). Values of Grace, Integrity and Aspiration are well-embedded, as are ‘Powerful Learning Attributes’ that include resilience, collaboration and creativity.

Head, Heart, Hands is the way the school talk about ‘our whole self’. Children understand that physical and emotional wellbeing are linked and they talk about how they are unique and valued. A fundamental part of the curriculum prioritises personal, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

A visit from an inspirational gymnast led to the school adopting the phrase ‘Find your thing.’ As a result, all staff are committed to helping each child to ‘find their thing’ and there is high staff involvement and engagement in sporting and physical activity provision.  Children know that being unique and ‘finding their thing’ helps them to flourish. 

Recently, a number of children have been building resilience and confidence through participating in a waveboarding intervention group. One child improved his attendance at school and joined the waveboarding after school club and as a result, asked for his own waveboard for his birthday so he could do extra practice at home.

The school make the most of their unique environment to give all children more opportunities to be active and play outdoors.  There is a trained beach school teacher who takes the whole school on a rota basis.

Fridays is Head, Heart and Hands Day, where everyone wears PE kit to celebrate and promote being a physically active school, which priorities every child’s well-being. Children attend a whole school ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ club for 30 minutes, during curriculum time and there are regular themed activities relating to one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ areas. Particular highlights are whole school running events and performing large-scale dances.

Having a sustained involvement with the Youth Sport Trust has meant that PE, sport, physical activity, play and wellbeing have been consistently and purposefully promoted through a whole school approach over many years, which has had a significant and positive impact on the lives of young people, families and staff. During the pandemic and through numerous other external demands on schools, this has been a challenge, but having this ethos at the core of our vision and having strong links with the Youth Sport Trust ensures that PE, physical activity and wellbeing is always at the heart of the school. 

Full list of shortlisted entries:

  • Brooklands Middle School, Bedfordshire
  • Curwen Primary School, Newham
  • North Kidlington Primary School, Oxfordshire
  • St Katharine’s School, Bournemouth
  • Ysgol Derwenfa, Flintshire