A unique partnership aimed at growing involvement in sport at Blairhall Primary School in Fife has doubled participation rates and inspired a new mentality throughout the entire school.
Thanks to the launch of a new tennis programme, there has also been a noticeable increase in academic performance by pupils.
In 2016, sport participation at Blairhall Primary School was sitting at 14 per cent. Sport was understood to be viewed negatively by pupils and behavioural issues were also a serious concern for the staff. However, since the launch of the school and community tennis programme, Blairhall has seen a transformation.
Partnership in action
The tennis programme is a product of a unique partnership between Blairhall Primary School, the local Active Schools team and the school’s parent-teacher association. Coalfield Regeneration Trust were also involved, providing a grant of £3,000 to assist in the growth of the project.
Callum Imray recognised how important the partnership was to the project’s success.
"As an Active Schools coordinator, partnerships are crucial to achieving success," said Callum.
"Through working together, Active Schools and the key partners have created a sustainable programme which has more than doubled participation at Blairhall Primary.”
Thanks to the funding from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, the school was able not only to acquire new tennis equipment for students and provide teachers with necessary training, but also to set aside funding to provide a former pupil, David Lovelock, with the opportunity to attain the UKCC Level 1 tennis coaching qualification, with a view to helping coaching within the primary school.
Blairhall’s deputy head, Nicola Bow, recognised the importance of having skilled coaches for the project:
“Having a common goal and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable coach has helped learners, who previously had low self-esteem and aspirations, to set themselves goals and raise their aspirations.”
The tennis programme has been very well received. Every pupil in the school now receives tennis coaching every week during curricular time, with extra-curricular tennis also achieving a 38 per cent participation rate.
The programme has had an impact off the court, too. Nicola Bow explained:
“This journey has seen us go from being a setting where disengagement and challenging behaviour were predominant to one where children are leading their own learning and working in a safe, happy and educationally-challenging environment.”
Due to the success of the programme and the way the pupils have embraced the new emphasis on sport participation, Blairhall have now introduced a new girls fitness programme as well as an after-school football programme. Behavioural issues had previously restricted the possibility of implementing programmes like these.
The tennis programme will be developing further, too. Now supported by Dunfermline Tennis club, pupils will be able to receive an adapted tennis leaders course in year two of the programme. This will allow older pupils to lead and develop real PE sessions for younger pupils with support from the club and the teachers.
Blairhall pupils will also be ready to participate in local tennis competitions organised by Dunfermline Lawn Tennis Club, and the local Sports Council.
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