Noel Smith has been teaching PE for the past 15 years, including the last seven as director of sport at Alleyn Court Prep School in Southend, Essex.
In 2018, Alleyn Court were crowned ISA (Independent Schools Association) Sports School of the Year.
My week starts early with a 6am visit to the gym. I use this time to get my head ready for a busy week ahead and get back in the routine after a weekend with the family. By 7.15, I am in my office checking emails and getting everything in order before pupils start arriving for sporting clubs at 8am. Today is a busy day of PE and games lessons followed by staff meetings. After the evening routine with my daughter, it’s off to pre-season cricket training. I feel, where possible, it’s important for PE teachers/coaches to give themselves time to play their own sport(s) as it helps us become even stronger role models for our pupils and allows us to put all those things we preach into practice.
This morning is spent teaching and then it’s off to the astro this afternoon for some hockey league matches with some of our young teams. It’s a great opportunity for a large number of our pupils to represent the school in competitive fixtures beyond individual competitions and block fixtures. It is lovely to have a few pupils making their school debuts too. One of my favourite parts of my job is seeing that enjoyment after the game of those pupils new to a sport or situation. I am also pleased to report that we won these fixtures and therefore won the league with games to spare.
As well as my role of director of sport, I am also heavily involved in the school marketing and social media team. Today, myself and my headmaster have travelled into London for a digital marketing seminar. Lots of excellent information and really usual for myself and our school moving forward. I definitely couldn’t do that commute each day, although getting onto the tube at West Ham was similar to teaching the pupils about a ruck or maul.
Another early start today as I am accompanying our U11 pupils to the Lee Valley National Hockey Centre to compete in the ISA national competition. Boys hockey has been our fastest-growing sport over the past few years and opportunities to play in large competitions like this are a real test about how far we have come as a school. Our boys come second in their group in the morning and qualify for the cup in the afternoon. After a short lunch break, we come up against some tough opposition but find ourselves in with a shout of a medal. Needing to win our last game to go through to third-place playoff, we manage a 1-0 win. In the play-off game, we battle hard and the game finishes 0-0 and onto penalty shuffles. The nerves of pupils and staff are running high. Unfortunately we lose the shuffles 2-1 but a great lesson in being gracious in defeat is available and, despite being upset, I was very proud of our reaction. Penalty shuffle practice next week. After a long journey home, I just manage to make my own hockey practice, where I captain one of teams at Old Southendians. It’s great to have a run around after a long day.
Today is relatively quiet if any day can be quiet in a PE department. Teaching and paperwork is the order of the day and, to be honest, it’s great to be in school teaching and catching up with everything before the end of the week. I finish my week with cross country running with my year 1 and 2 pupils. I can’t believe how much energy these youngsters have at the end of a busy week and their enthusiasm to stay late on a Friday to practise is infectious.
This morning is leisurely as I am taking my daughter to dance class. I sit with the dance mums with my laptop and headphones planning next week’s lessons. After an early lunch, I travel to Colchester to play hockey. It all appears to come together today and my team win a fantastic game 5-0. After a quick beer, it’s home for a well-deserved dinner and relax.
Sunday is family day, the most important day of the week, ensuring that the work-life balance is maintained and the mind and body is suitably charged for another busy week. Then, an early night, ready for it all to begin again tomorrow.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF