Outstanding Secondary Practice

Sponsored by Complete PE

Awarded to a secondary school that has used PE, sport and play to build back healthier, happier and more resilient young people.

Winner - Manchester Communication Academy, Manchester

Photo of winners at awards evening

Manchester Communication Academy (MCA) place a constant focus on the importance of health and wellbeing, of which PE, School sport and play are fundamental pillars, to deliver the  school vision  of excellent provision for their students, their families the  community and staff.

In an area where there are many health challenges facing families, it is crucial that the value of having a physically active student body is understood not just for the individual students but for the impact on the wider community. The local community currently has a lower life expectancy than other cities across the country and a lower life expectancy in the wards the school serves, than all other wards in the  city. This carries the potential for a huge impact on the lives of the children the school works with. Having a fundamental understanding of the impact and effectiveness a PE, School Sport and Physical Activity strategy can have is critical in ensuring the reach of the school goes beyond the school gates and into the community to help improve societal outcomes.

The school is located in a caring, vibrant, diverse community, but a community that faces profound disadvantage. The school takes, initial steps to support families to get children to a state of readiness to be able to access a menu of PE and sport opportunities. This can include supporting families with their housing challenges, working with families to ensure that children have uniform and kit to be able to access school as well as providing families with ingredients to cook in each of their food lessons, to prevent any curriculum barriers emerging through disadvantage. 

Within the PE offer, the school ensures students develop physical competence through a well-sequenced curriculum to support students learning. This supports students to develop a web of knowledge around different sports and activities to give them the motivation to succeed. Students are provided with a wealth of opportunities to ensure they are active for at least 60 minutes throughout the school day. Whether that is through the active travel scheme where the school act as a bike library to allow students to cycle to and from school, or through an extensive extracurricular offer. Students have open access to sports facilities in the mornings, break and lunch time with staff facilitating a broad range of sports and activities.

There is a culture across the academy that PE is very much a core subject. Pupils are not taken out of classes for intervention work, and PE is embedded in various programmes, including exclusion prevention programmes where external partners such as City in the Community, Sale Sharks and a local boxing club come in to work with targeted cohorts of young people.

To supplement the offer the school provides, individual groups of students who require further intervention are supported with Youth Sport Trust run projects such as Boys Move, Active in Mind and Girls Active. These ensure that these students are not left behind and every student fulfils their potential to become responsible, respectful and resilient young people. 

Manchester Communication Academy are a true reflection of excellent practice in using PE and sport to help every young person overcome social disadvantage.

Highly Commended - Teign School, Devon

Teign School visited other schools in the Youth Sport Trust network to gain ideas and thoughts around best practice in PE and school sport. They pooled ideas from these visits, various webinars and research to kickstart a hub of physical activity with the potential to make real and impactful change to the lives of young people.

The first step was to put PE Ambassadors at the heart of decision making. These amazing young people lead on tutorials and assemblies, and delivered department and whole school change, communicating with the wider school community to generate a clear vision that encompassed everyone.

The vision was aligned to that of the whole school, fitting each year groups learning journey to a different strand of the schools’ values. Year seven starts with ‘Support one another’, in year eight a ‘Love of learning’ is created. In year nine students develop students ‘Best mindset’, and in year ten students are encouraged to become a ‘Centre of the community’. In year eleven students become ‘Ready for the world’. Through these pathways students experience a full range of activities which are the vehicles for conveying essential knowledge and experience.

Using Youth Sport Trust data, Teign School regrouped classes based on friendship groups rather than ability or gender, which has led to happier students who are more confident to accept challenge & learn through failure. Classes are named after gold medal winning role model athletes.

The school developed a leadership academy to improve student’s independence, sense of accomplishment and contribution to the school and the wider community. Inspirational girls drive the Girls Active programme and there are students gaining their sports leadership and dance qualifications.

There is a big focus on SEND and disengaged students, targeting them through alternative sports clubs and projects such as Beyond the Baseline. Students who manage to use sport to improve their behaviour received opportunities such as going to Wimbledon.

The extra-curricular programme has changed with traditional sports now being provided by sports coaches at local clubs to provide pathways into sport beyond the school. Freeing up PE staff to provide greater opportunities for fixtures and to run a broader spectrum of clubs and alternative sports.

The team of only five people are hugely driven and dedicated to giving their students the most amazing experience of sport and physical activity.

Full list of shortlisted entries:

  • Crown Hills Community College, Leicester
  • Manchester Communication Academy, Manchester
  • Teign School, Devon
  • Theale Green School, Berkshire
  • Willows School, Cardiff
  • Windsor High School, Halesowen