A life in the week of Sophie Windle. director of sport at Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire.
I start the day with a 7am swim. It feels great to jump in the pool and get some exercise before my inevitably crazy Monday gets started. Mondays are always pretty busy with plenty of teaching and a department meeting so I am at my desk for 8am tackling my inbox. Year 7 rounders is first up today and, even though this year we have also started a cricket club (and I know rounders is a sport of much debate in schools nowadays), I love how much pure enjoyment so many children seem to get from it. Admin time next as I am currently organising our ski racing team trials and three ski trips I am running this year. After lunch is house games, an initiative we run that I am a big supporter of. It is a weekly lesson where girls get to trial, practise and compete with peers from their house in an enormous range of activities; today including triathlon training, tennis trials, flag football and kwik cricket. Time for a bit more admin; this time finalising plans for a new performance tennis academy and getting ready for a busy week ahead. The day comes to a close with some high jump training before heading home to feed both the dog and myself.
Today is my day off so a great opportunity to see family and friends. I head off on a long dog walk and then into town with my fiancée to meet friends for coffee. After a relaxing day, my sister and twin nieces pop round for dinner and a bridesmaid trying-on session for the twins. They look so pretty in the outfits and they fit perfectly; an excellent reason to celebrate with a glass of wine.
7am and I am in the pool again today. A few of the squad swimmers are also in the session this morning. I think it’s important that pupils see staff taking part in sports so they can see us practising what we preach. Today is mainly spent working on planning for next September and the new school year. Having only started at Wycombe Abbey in January, it has been an exciting first couple of terms and I am now looking forward to working on some new initiatives with various members of the department. These initiatives are based on the goal of being part of teaching a generation to say ‘PE’ when they are asked ‘What was your favourite subject at school.’ I think that some areas of school sport that are crucial to reaching this point are inclusion, variety, and enjoyment. After a thought-provoking morning, it is an afternoon of meetings and then on to our last athletics training session before Friday’s ESAA regional competition, so some fine tuning is needed. Late night at work tonight so home for a cup of tea and bed.
Today is a ‘desk day’. I start the day with a to do list to ensure that all the deadlines I’ve got coming up are going to get met. Jobs for the day involve looking at timetabling. With around 30 extra-curricular clubs and practices to try and fit into our evening sessions, it is proving to be quite a jigsaw. After lunch, I have a catering review meeting which is a great opportunity to discuss ways in which school catering can support our sports programme. Nutrition is such an important aspect of performance and it is always exciting to brainstorm new ways of fueling and educating pupils to get the best out of each individual, both physically and mentally. The downside to brainstorming is that it has added a few extra things to my to do list, but it is all worthwhile. I finish the day working with one of my assistant directors of sport on our new sports kit provision. We are changing our provider and now that the pupils' kit is all sorted it is time to play personal shopper for the department. Fortunately, there is some great feedback and what PE staff doesn’t love a bit of ‘stash.’ By the time I get home, it is still beautiful and sunny so a stroll to the woods with the dog is a well-needed bit of down time.
Change of plan for today’s agenda. I am meant to be heading up to Solihull with both our junior and inter ESAA track and field athletics teams but unfortunately, due to terrible weather it is postponed. Such a shame as it is always great for the athletes to perform in a team event and push themselves for the benefit of others. However, it will give us some beneficial training time between now and the rescheduled date, so fingers crossed that it will play in our favour. Instead, I use the time to catch up with members of the department and complete some of my planning ahead of next year. Tomorrow is open morning so it is nice to get the chance to have a wander around the department and highlight all the areas that I think are really valuable for parents to see. Last lesson on a Friday is lower sixth PE. That might sound like a nightmare to some people – 90 16 and 17-year-olds at the end of a long week – but it is actually one of my favourite lessons. The energy and enthusiasm that they bring puts a huge smile on my face and it is a great way to end the week. Just enough time to make it to boot camp after work today which means I can have a lie-in tomorrow morning.
Saturdays are a working day, with morning lessons and afternoon fixtures so we are always pretty busy but there is a different feel to the department on a match day. Today is open morning but already some athletes have headed off to the Bucks Athletics Championships and for everyone else it is all hands-on-deck running ‘have a go’ activities for prospective pupils. I am on meet and greet. It is really enjoyable getting to sing the praises of the school and department and not feeling quite so new anymore. I just about feel like I know enough to answer most questions.
Usually a day off, this Sunday is slightly different. Today is induction day which is when the new girls starting in September and their parents come into the School. In PE, we have a lacrosse taster session going on as well as mouth guard fitting, so the girls are all set for a September start. For the parents, I give a talk on some of the key information regarding PE and the afternoon and evening are spent saying goodbye to a special member of the PE department. Rachel Keens, the deputy head (operational), is leaving at the end of the year and is a valued member of the PE department and previous director of sport. Since joining in January, I have discovered that anytime there is a question that either I or someone else does not know the answer to, the response is always ‘ask Keens’ so there could be many unanswered questions come September. For now, we spend the evening celebrating her time at Wycombe Abbey with a surprise PE party and it is amazing to see the shock and delight on her face. It has been quite a week, busier than usual but full of exciting ideas and plans for the future as well as reflecting on a successful past. It is now time to relax and watch Killing Eve on TV before doing it all again tomorrow.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF