A life in the week of Chris Crowe, director of sport at Lancing College
When I made my first move to Lancing, I remember my previous headmaster saying: ‘Chris, you will enjoy your role at your new school, but you will have to get used to not being around the teams and becoming more of an admin guy. That’s the price you pay for management.’ Well he could not have been further from the truth. The working week begins with a couple of very important meetings. First I meet with James Cowie, our head groundsman. We look at the week ahead, discuss current issues and also look to future projects. At the minute we are preparing capital bids for the annual budget submissions so life is quite interesting. Mid morning we have a weekly briefing from the head and vital catch up time with house staff. An important side to life at Lancing is the excellent pastoral care that wraps around pretty much all we do, so liaison with them is vital. Many of the housemasters also coach for me so they are really busy but it breeds great house spirit on the sports fields. I then teach curriculum PE which is a totally mixed ability group. This keeps things real for me and often brings that real intrinsic satisfaction. All the PE teachers out there will know what I’m talking about. After a brief lunch I fit in a couple of tutorials and then teach AS PE to a really outgoing group of pupils. We are dealing with the section on barriers to participation and have had some very interesting discussions on stereotypes, discrimination and gender. The girls in the group must despair sometimes. We then head out onto the sports fields for the weekly league run (an inter house cross-country race that draws over 200 competitors each week) and for extra U14 hockey training. School finishes at 6pm and then common room duty awaits until 10pm.
More A level teaching is combined with some work with the Gappers (I’m in charge of the male gap students). A couple more meetings with staff and then a very enjoyable afternoon on the hockey fields. We are lucky to have an excellent professional coach in Chris Bristow (ex Surbiton keeper) and he leads my session with me giving my two-penneth for good measure. I also get the chance to see other teams train when my session has finished. The 1st XI are doing particularly well at the minute and I love watching the free flowing hockey they play. All that team have come through the ranks and that developmental part to my role is also very rewarding. We mix fifth and sixth forms together at Lancing and the interactions the players have is excellent. It really makes the younger players step up. Home to the kids after sport gives me a little bit of time to catch up with the family before their bedtime. We have a five-year-old boy and an eleven-month-old girl. It’s great to see them after a busy day.
I head to the Amex stadium to meet with the academy manager of Brighton and Hove Albion. We have excellent links with them and John Morling and I do a lot of work together. Their new training ground is across the road from Lancing so we are working on a mutually beneficial relationship. They have an outstanding youth system and should be very proud of their achievements. I used to work with John at Peterborough United, so I usually get a fair amount of stick from him. It’s good to catch up. Wednesday is my prep school liaison day so I’m out and about to either one of our prep schools in Hove or Worthing and (in the football season in particular) further afield to check in with our feeder schools. I sometimes watch games maybe officiate and often coach. This is another part of my role that I really value. Later it’s games committee, where all our PICS (people in charge of sport) get round a table to discuss various issues. Our headmaster chairs this so we really value the chance to progress sport forward. He has a good working knowledge of the issues that surround our department and it’s a good forum.
Similar to Tuesday but I meet with our professional football coach as he delivers the term programme for us. Recruiting and retaining our pro coaches is another facet of my job. We want to give our pupils the best experiences and the coaches are vital to this. We employ them across all our sports and they help to develop our talent and also to upskill our academic staff that give up so much time to the sports programme. David Jupp is an A licence coach and also a coach educator, so we chatted about INSET for our staff, linking in with the county FA and also trying to get some of our better players into local clubs. I also have a good deal of admin to do on a Thursday in terms of fixture organisation and getting teams up on the board. The paperwork we have to do for off site visits (away games) is fairly extensive, so getting ahead of the game is always a must.
A teaching marathon, then coaching in the afternoon. I also like to double check that all is good for the upcoming block fixtures so I meet with the girls games department (who are mega organised) and also our head of hockey. I’m lucky in that each PIC controls and confirms fixtures. I know in some other schools the director of sport does this and can feel quite desk-bound. It’s another reason why I love my job here. Late afternoon I meet with our sport clothing supplier. All sportspeople love ‘stash’ and we’ve got some great gear for the sports staff to wear.
I meet with our two sports prefects. These are two sixth form pupils from the official school prefect body. I think it’s important for the pupil body to feel connected to the staff, so we meet weekly and discuss team of the week awards, a publication that they are in charge of called Fixture of the Week, and also their sports prefects’ blog. It’s as a result of this blog that we are creating headbands for girls to wear during matches and also a meeting where they can have a real effect on the provision at the college. The rest of the morning is spent checking arrangements for the afternoon fixtures. As in many schools, it’s games day so all has to be right. We may have late changes to start times, weather issues etc, so it’s vital that these are uploaded to the website, given to the reception ladies and nowadays even ‘tweeted’. I’m sure that every DoS and teacher will say that game day is one of the best parts of the week. This is true - from the travel to the actual competition itself. This particular weekend sees matches against one of my previous schools, so it’s good to catch up with some old faces – even if I do get stick for moving on.
Sunday provides a brief respite and a chance to catch up with the family. Luckily they are all very understanding of the nature of my profession and sometimes come up the road to watch matches. I have two children, Barnaby (five) and Daisy (one). Barnaby is loving his football (first pair of proper boots purchased recently) and whenever we have a kick about in the garden he has to be Lancing College and I have to be either France, Italy or York City! It goes without saying that I never win.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF