A life in the week of Kate Simlett-Groves, head of sport at Moreton Hall School in Shropshire
This is the start of the summer term which I always love as the weather has warmed up. There is a much more relaxed feeling after what has been our best two terms of sport in the history of the school. It is our centenary year and so far our hockey and lacrosse teams have exceeded all expectations. My week starts with a departmental meeting to go through any issues from last term, make a check list of priorities in terms of facilities, go through fixtures for the week, transport and catering, staffing and of course academic PE as exams are nearing and coursework deadlines loom. For some the most important item on the agenda is the discussion of the new kit for the PE staff for next academic year. From our meeting we all dash off to the weekly staff briefing. The rest of the day is filled with admin and organising our annual sports awards evening which is the following week – always a hard job deciding who will win what awards and which team will win team of the year. Will it be our 1st lacrosse team who were placed top four nationally after the national schools lacrosse championships or the 1st hockey team for winning the U18 county championships for the first time. I am also a housemistress so before heading back to the boarding house there is a housemistresses meeting to attend then our first athletics practice of the term. The last task on the agenda is meeting with Oswestry Cricket Club as some of our girls and boys from the prep school will be joining.
Tuesday always starts with tutorials and my upper sixth tutees are in good spirits after a long holiday but also slightly apprehensive about the exams. I like to spend part of the day making sure that the facilities are all set up for the sports with pitch markings done for rounders, cricket and athletics and all the tennis nets are up. I also do all the planning for Wednesday games afternoon as all the senior school (300+ girls) are on games at the same time so it takes a while to place coaching staff and year groups to the right practices. I then meet up with our estate manager about our facilities and I am told that we are to get a new groundsman later on in the term which is music to my ears. As I am sure most heads of sports will agree, they are one of the most important members of the PE team. I am also told he can coach hockey and cricket so Tuesday is proving to be a good day so far. I have a quick meeting with the tennis coaches and dance teacher to make sure they are happy with the coaching timetable and that all lessons fit. After lunch there are A-level lessons to teach where revision and exam technique are the main focus. I have also just been told that my lacrosse development officer will be staying for another year. Delighted and excited, I head off to recreational tennis activity followed by an evening duty in the boarding house.
Wednesday is one of my busiest days as not only is everyone on games in the afternoon but this week we have girls out at the English Schools Track and Field Athletics competition, two cricket matches, four separate tennis matches, rowing, golf and sailing. Team lists are changing and the weather is looking ever more unstable. After teaching a few curriculum lessons I bring up a weather website to see what the weather is likely to be doing in the afternoon. I decide to give the normal programme a go and hope that the rain does not reach us. By 1.30pm the athletics, cricket rowing, sailing and some tennis have departed. Registration takes place and by 2.30pm all girls are at their practice and in full swing. So far the weather is holding. On Wednesdays I will coach where needed. However I spend the majority of my time problem solving and making sure girls are where they need to be. By 4.15pm games have finished, we have escaped the rain and some of the teams are returning victorious but not all. After some much needed dinner, I am off to do a revision session followed by prep and house duty.
We are a full girls boarding school and most of the PE staff are also involved with boarding houses which involves weekday and weekend duties so a Thursday is a day when the department has time away from teaching to do preparation work. I teach GCSE and A level lessons all morning where again the focus is on revision. After lunch I have a HoD’s meeting followed by a sports scholarship assessment of a year 6 pupil. She is a very talented games player and runner so I am pleased when I learn she will be joining the school in year 7. I try to have time off on a Thursday afternoon but this week I take the time to set up meetings with our new head of Tennis and England Lacrosse coach who will both add huge value to our sport and games provision. After our success of last term in lacrosse we rewarded the players with charms ordered and designed by our Moreton Enterprise team. I have a quick meeting to discuss the order and take the opportunity to see what is new in all the shops which are run by our girls for the girls. Once these tasks are complete I head back to my boarding house and take some time out before what will be a very busy weekend.
Fridays are our busiest teaching days. We also have a prep school on site where we teach too so we have PE every lesson on a Friday and in some cases three year groups all at the same time. The weather is proving difficult with on off showers so we have the sports halls set out for indoor athletics, cricket on the all-weather pitch if the weather holds and gymnastics in our fitness suite. It is all hands on deck as we also have national plan swimming lessons and tennis coaching. In the afternoon some time is taken by PE staff and coaches to check that their teams are all correct for the weekend’s fixtures. We also plan the programme for Saturday as we teach PE in the morning to years 7 and 8 followed by athletics and cricket practice in the afternoon. One of the many positives of being part of a boarding school is that the girls are always available for practices and matches on weekends. Friday night is spent on duty in the boarding house!
Breakfast on a Saturday is slightly later to allow for a small lie in. I wake the house up and then head down to my department in the sports hall. This morning we are teaching tennis to year 7 and athletics to year 8. I do a quick check on the weather which is looking good for the day so no need to worry about cancellations of any matches or practices. We have time between our lessons so we all do a tidy up of the sports department as at the end of the week there are always things lying around. I enjoy Saturdays in the summer as most matches/practices take place in the afternoon whereas in the previous two terms we are often departing at 7am to a lacrosse fixture/tournament as far as York or Oxford. I am in charge of the senior tennis matches today which I enjoy while my colleagues are involved in the athletics and cricket practices. After scones, jam and cream on completion of the matches, I can finally head home and rest my feet up for a bit. I am on house duty this weekend however I am secretly looking forward to watching some football as it is the end of the season and it is getting quite exciting.
Sunday begins with a church service at our local church in Gobowen. Brunch is the highlight of the day and there is always a mad rush off the coach to get in the queue first. My boarding house is off to Chester for the day which I am pleased with as I need to get a ball dress for next week’s Centenary Circus ball. After a less than successful shopping trip it is back to business with prep and time to plan for the week ahead. As all heads of sport know, there is never a quiet moment. However this one of the reasons why I love my job so much.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF