Wensley Fold CE Primary Academy is a Youth Sport Trust Level 2 member school. Headteacher Gaynor Stubbs reveals how they boosted attendance at after-school sports clubs by changing the times of their school day:
Wensley Fold CE Primary Academy in Blackburn is gradually expanding with over 300 pupils now attending the school. A high proportion of our pupils are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and have English as an additional language. The school is rated as outstanding by Ofsted with progress and attainment of pupils above average and 100 per cent of our disadvantaged children are achieving expected progress.
However, the school faced a challenge in encouraging young people to attend after-school sports clubs and investigated the reason for this and what could be done to improve the situation. Discussions with members of staff, particularly with those that lived in the local community, drilled down into the barriers to attendance and participation and the cause soon became clear.
We discovered that the underlying reason was that many of the children had to attend a mosque after-school from around 4.30pm for two hours. As an integral part of their faith and culture it couldn’t be changed, but we were determined to find a solution that enabled our students to attend the mosque but also increase participation in after-school clubs.
To avoid this diary clash the school now starts at 8.45am, there is no afternoon break and the school day ends at 3.10pm. Our after-school clubs now run until 4pm which gives children time to go home after their sports club and get changed before they attend the mosque.
Through this approach we set out to:
- Develop healthy bodies, hearts and minds through embedding PE and sport throughout school life
- Ensure that all the school population has the opportunity to take part in after-school activities
- Improve attendance at extra-curricular clubs and make a greater commitment to those clubs.
At the beginning of every term we have a ‘clubs fair’ - similar to a fresher’s fair at university, where the children have to come after-school with their parents to enrol on the club. Tables are put around the hall that advertise what the club is all about and it is made clear that the children must make a commitment to attend.
They can sign up to a maximum of three clubs and if they do sign for all three they only pay for two. We charge £5 for each club which runs for 10 weeks, regardless of how many sessions the young people attend. We decided to charge as it was felt that when clubs are free children and their families don’t value it as much, hence the lack of commitment and children dropping out.
Those children on Pupil Premium do not pay and also have the opportunity to enrol first. The clubs are delivered by a mixture of coaches that we buy in, using our PE and Sport Premium, and school staff. In each classroom there is a table highlighting those children that attend sports clubs at school, children that have been chosen to take part in competition and those that attend clubs in the community. This allows us to target children who are not attending the sessions we offer.
The results of this new approach have been really rewarding. At Key Stage 2 about 70% of children now attend an after school club; the school no longer has children dropping out of clubs; attendance at the clubs is providing children with points towards their graduation from the Children’s University; and more children now attend clubs in the community such as football, swimming and martial arts as they now value and are inspired by PE and sport in school.
By moving our school day we have changed the whole culture of after-school clubs and attitudes to PE and sport. Parents now support their children and the school when they are participating in competitions and there is a feel-good factor felt by everybody across the school as we encourage them to share their experiences in assembly.
We are giving children new opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity and creating memories for our young people. We are also considering our next generation, as they become the parents of the future who understand the value and importance of PE and sport.