Top of the class

What it takes to win a School Sport Award

The sportscotland School Sport Award, launched in 2014, is a national, Lottery funded, initiative designed to encourage schools to continuously improve their PE and school sport offering, creating better experiences for young people at school.

Through the sportscotland School Sport Award scheme we have identified nine core areas that support an excellent PE and school sport environment and here we look at two of the first schools to secure the award. They are also quite different schools - Larbert High School in Scotland’s central belt and Arinagour Primary School in the Inner Hebrides – but they are both excelling in their school sport offer, in their own way.

Name: Arinagour Primary School
Local authority: Argyll & Bute
Where: Island of Coll, Inner Hebrides
Number of pupils: 28 (2015)

According to the local website, the island of Coll has “no theme parks, amusement arcades, parking meters, street lights, traffic lights or double yellow lines”. The island is remote, to say the least, and can only be accessed by ferry or a small eight-seater plane from Oban.

Small and remote, but engaging

Arinagour is the only school on the island and with 28 pupils it is thriving due to the number of young families in residence. This “wild and secret island” provides a unique environment for local children to grow up in – quite different to the experience of growing up in the mainland, or in the central belt. However, this small and remote school has created an incredibly engaging PE and school sport programme and was one of the first schools in Scotland to be recognised with a Gold School Sport Award by sportscotland.

Recognition and reward

Recognising and rewarding sporting success is very important at Arinagour. Once a week, certificates are awarded for a wide range of sporting successes. There are also two annual award evenings: one for sailing and the other for football. Medals and certificates are presented for winners, outstanding performances, progress, improvement and attendance.

No formal clubs, but there’s plenty of sporting activity on offer

In this small island community there aren’t any formally organised sports clubs, except for the sailing club, but there are a wide range of activities for children to get involved in. And rugby, football, netball, sailing, table tennis, badminton and hockey are also available in school as well as out of school, on a regular basis.  Everyone in the school takes part in the after school clubs and transport is arranged to take children home.

Sarah McCann, the PE teacher at the school, said: “We endeavour to make sure that all the children experience a planned PE programme offering quality, progression and enjoyment as well as a wide range of activities. This is supported by clubs after school and at the weekends, organised and run by community volunteers. We are very fortunate to have so many enthusiastic and willing volunteers whose contribution means that there is something for every child.”

Opportunities for the children to attend big events are limited due to the cost of travel, but this does not hold them back. On the island they host a number of events including Coll Sailing Club regatta, Coll half marathon, OLI orienteering competition, a swimming gala and mini rugby.

Currently all Primary 7 pupils at Arinagour hold the Sport Leaders UK Young Leader Certificate. There is also an opportunity for pupils in Coll to become members of the school sport committee to help shape the sports activity provided and be responsible for looking after and issuing sports equipment. Leadership is seen as a fundamental extension to the curricular learning and development at Arinagour.

Name: Larbert High School
Local authority: Falkirk
Where: Stenhousemuir, Larbert
Number of pupils: 2,032

Larbert High has excelled at creating a first class sporting environment.

The school has made sport a focus, starting with a strong school sport committee consisting of six Young Ambassadors and two Young Hub Leaders. The committee gives pupils a voice and influence on school sport and PE at Larbert and provides leadership opportunities to pupils.

Leadership opportunities

Senior pupil Claire Moffat said: “Larbert High School provides an excellent range of leadership opportunities for all pupils. Through my time as a Young Ambassador I have been given the chance to take on extra responsibilities and leadership roles within the school. As a result, I have been able to meet with staff and help implement changes to PE and school sport, which has been great.”

Links to the community sport hub

The school is also part of the Tryst Community Sports Club, a local community sport hub partnership between Larbert High School, Stenhousemuir Football Club and Falkirk Community Trust. It boasts 31 clubs, has 1270 participants from across the local community who are in turn supported by 112 coaches and volunteers – the best from the area. It has been very successful at creating a strong pathway for pupils from school activities into clubs.

With so much going on at Larbert High School it should comes as no surprise that the school’s motto is Optimum Sequi, which means ‘follow the best course in all things’. They certainly have when it comes to sport.

The Golden Schools

As of November 2015, there were 92 gold schools, 216 silver schools and 65 bronze schools in Scotland.  You can find out if the schools in your local area hold one of the awards via the sportscotland website:

You can also check out the nine core areas which the award is based upon as well as full details on why apply, how to apply and key dates at the sportscotland website. Here, you’ll also be able to find information on other schools like Larbert High and Arinagour Primary.

And, we have been busy promoting the core areas of the #SchoolSportAward on our social media channels. Check out the case studies, tweets and posts on Facebook and Twitter.

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