“The impact was almost immediate,” said the headteacher of a primary school where coaches from a football club have transformed sport by inspiring the children to Get Moving and form healthy habits for a lifetime.
Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has been helping hundreds of schoolchildren in the borough in this way. And one school benefiting is St Anselm’s Primary School in Church Avenue, Southall, which linked up with the trust exactly three years ago. Since when, participation in sport has gone through the roof – after being in the doldrums.
Acting headteacher Deacon Tito Pereira suggested the link-up, having previously taught at Mount Carmel Primary in Ealing, which was already working successfully with the trust.
He said: “Before the trust got involved with our school, you could say PE wasn’t high up on our pupils’ list of favourite subjects.
“The impact was almost immediate. The quality of the coaches is so high. They are fantastic at inspiring the children of all abilities to take part and feel good about keeping active and fit.”
The Championship football club’s award-winning charity is commissioned by Ealing Council to run a variety of community schemes for young people in the borough and fully backs its PE involvement in 30 local primary schools.
Not only does its experienced coaches carry out sessions and run a wide variety of sports clubs on a weekly basis at the schools, they also develop PE plans for them that are linked to the national curriculum and help to train the teachers.
The trust also reaches other schools with other sports programmes.
‘It enriches the curriculum. The kids are really engaged’
At St Anselm’s, coaches run a lunchtime club every day, plus PE lessons all day two days a week; and there will be after-school clubs returning as well, once COVID-19 rules allow.
Deacon Pereira added: “We quickly realised that community is not just a word to them. They have been extremely supportive in any way they can, even helping us with our summer fair by providing prizes and running activities that raised money for the school.
“We pay for the PE provision, but they do a lot of free stuff that goes beyond that. This included a 20-week Scoring for Health programme with lessons in classrooms and outdoor activities around healthy eating and awareness of physical and mental health. They also ran another programme called Joy of Moving to explain the importance of having a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
“They came into the school over the first lockdown out of goodwill, too. The coaches coming in and doing activities was brilliant for our vulnerable children’s mental health. They know there is a lot of poverty in the area and they really do care about the kids. The trust also provided each child with a bag containing equipment – including a football, a tennis ball, cones and an activity card.
“The extra activities they run at lunchtime are all very structured and it really enriches the curriculum. The kids are really engaged and want to go out and play. It’s a good partnership.”
‘Three years ago, sport at the school was at an all-time low’
The school’s PE and sports leader Jason Balaquidan said participation in sport at the school now stood at 97% of the pupils and clubs could sometimes be oversubscribed. He said: “When I arrived three years ago, sport at the school was at an all-time low.
“Now, the kids are a lot more active and far less sedentary and really positive and enthusiastic about sport. As well as these obvious physical benefits, it has been helping a lot with their teamworking skills and has encouraged some who were reluctant before to now have a go and get involved and they are enjoying it. There have been some player visits from the club, too, which the kids love. The players are brilliant and real role models – as are the coaches.”
‘It is all about trying to challenge them’
Trust coach Tommy Ryan-Maynard is in his second year of working with the school and said: “I have enjoyed getting to know all the different characters. They have a lot of energy and want to learn. It is all about trying to challenge them and get the best out of them. There is a bit of psychology in there. Some needed their confidence built up and now they really look forward to it. It makes me happy to see them engaging with it and makes it all worth it.
“The Scoring for Health programme made them think about what they are eating and how it affects their bones and growth. They could relate it all to real life and they didn’t want it to stop.”
‘Such important lessons for life’
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for children and schools, said: “The trust’s work with our primary schools is helping them to provide a well-balanced, wide-ranging PE curriculum which inspires young people to be active and healthy.
“They are such important lessons for life and the trust’s coaches have become role models for the children they teach.”