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By Laura Taylor, Jan 5 2021 05:07PM

A leading youth charity today urged schools not to neglect the physical well-being of children during the new lockdown.

While many classroom lessons will be moving online during the latest restrictions, the Youth Sport Trust is worried that youngsters’ physical activity will decline further.

Chief executive Ali Oliver said: “As millions of young people across the country now move back to remote learning, the continuation of physical education and daily physical activity will be vital in supporting their wellbeing.

“We know that young people’s activity levels plummeted during the first lockdown, and this has contributed to some of the issues they are now facing – from mental health difficulties and low levels of physical fitness to developmental delays.

“Schools have done so much in overcoming impossible challenges in the last ten months to keep children safe and able to learn. Over the coming weeks a virtual physical education curriculum focussed on recovery should be a priority. This could be a game changer for young people’s wellbeing.

The Youth Sport Trust’s Well School movement and its After School Sports Club have been set up to help schools and parents while its team of athlete mentors are providing online mentoring through the Active in Mind mental wellbeing programme.

Ali Oliver added: “In 2019, government set out the initial stages of a School Sport and Activity Action Plan which was due to be developed further last year.

“This current crisis has made the need for a long-term national strategy to tackle inactivity and the decline in young people’s wellbeing through sport and improved physical education all the more urgent.”

The charity’s free support for schools and families to continue with PE, sport and physical activity at home and in school can be accessed at

By Laura Taylor, Dec 31 2020 09:02AM

Britain’s future Olympic hopes will be damaged unless schools’ athletics is able to return to some sort of normality.

That’s the view of Chris Cohen, general secretary of the English Schools Athletic Association, the organisation that has nurtured some of the country’s greatest champions.

2020 proved an unprecedented year for the ESAA with most of its major events cancelled, including the Track & Field Championships, the Track & Field Schools’ Cup and the

Now the teacher-led association, whose championships have bred the likes of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Kelly Holmes, Greg Rutherford and Paula Radcliffe, has warned of the dire effect on future athletes.

(To read the full article, check out the new edition of School Sport Magazine out in January. Subscribe for just £29 a year by [email protected])

By Laura Taylor, Dec 29 2020 12:19PM

It’s been a staple diet during winter terms for thousands of schools across the country for many years.

But netball has been particularly hard hit by the virus – and schools admit it will only be later in the year that life on court will be able to return to normal.

A shortage of competitive matches has meant that the returning School Sport Magazine National Schools U12, U13 and U15 Cups had to be postponed until next season.

And Netball England bosses are working hard behind the scenes to try and stage the longstanding U14, U16 and U19 national competitions later this term – albeit in a revised and shortened format.

(To read the full report, check out the new edition of School Sport Magazine out next month. An annual subscription is available for just £29. Email [email protected])

By Laura Taylor, Dec 17 2020 06:00PM

A popular PE teacher who has overseen unprecedented athletics success at an Essex school is hanging up her whistle after 33 years.

Sue Simpson, head of PE at Southend High School for Girls, is retiring from the sports department after leading countless teams to national success.

During her time at Southend High, Sue has overseen unprecedented sports development, including several English Schools’ Athletics Cups, national cross country titles and four appearances at the ISF World Schools Athletics Championships.

The school has also achieved four successive top 20 appearances in the annual School Sport Magazine best sports schools of the year list.

Her colleague and fellow PE teacher Sian Jenkins said: “It’s difficult to express in words what Sue’s contribution to sport has been both on both a local, county and national level. Her ambition and drive to see students achieve their best is really quite staggering.

“The amount of time she has dedicated to school sport is phenomenal and the kids have the utmost respect and admiration for her, along with fellow colleagues across the borough and beyond.

“All the students that have come through the Sue Simpson sporting pathway have benefited not only from her incredibly extensive knowledge and expertise, but also her passion for achieving the highest standards of competition.

“Sue is also very dedicated to the sport of netball where we have also had many successes at all levels across the many years, with students going on to play high level club as well as making international squads.

“This retirement is very well-deserved and we all hope that she has the most wonderful time and enjoys plenty of fantastic experiences in the future. SHSG will not be the same without her and I know I speak on behalf of the PE team, that to say we will miss her, is a huge understatement. A true national PE ‘legend’.”

By Laura Taylor, Dec 15 2020 12:15PM

Brentwood School’s equestrian team saw 2020 out in style by qualifying for next year’s National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) Championships.

In a fantastic last competition of the year at Brook Farm Equestrian Centre, Stapleford Abbotts, Brentwood finished first ahead of New Hall School and third placed Felsted.

The victory qualified them for the nationals next October, as well as the Elite championships at Hickstead next year.

By Laura Taylor, Dec 1 2020 02:52PM

Schools’ rugby has been given a boost after the government approved its submission to a return to 15-a-side contact rugby - with some adaptations.

Fifteen-a-side training can resume from Wednesday December 2 and fixtures can continue from Friday December 18 as long as certain changes are made.

These include no scrums or mauls and, where the game would restart with a scrum, this will be replaced with a free kick.

A minimum of five and a maximum of seven players from each team are also required to form a lineout.

Clubs can still play Ready4Rugby if they have matches coming up from 2 December to 18 December and beyond – and here is no obligation to play adapted 15-a-side contact fixtures.

The news will be a boost for schools hoping to play fixtures again in January and should give the green light to the prestigious Rosslyn Park Sevens tournament in March.

By Laura Taylor, Oct 23 2020 04:29PM

Trent College in Derbyshire are to sponsor the first team kit for national champions Beeston Hockey Club.

More than 60 pupils from the school currently represent the club, from the U12 side to the first team and senior set up. Members of staff and former pupils also play for the Bees at various levels.

And director of sport Richard Mahony says: “Collaboration is at the heart of sport, both on and off the pitch. Our sports department works closely with key organisations to ensure pupils have the opportunities to maximise their potential in any sport.

“Building links and partnerships with organisations is essential for providing pupils with access to a high level of performance and a variety of pathways.”

With their men and women’s first teams securing a historic double cup win last season, Beeston Hockey Club (the Bees) are the pinnacle of professional hockey in England.

And Richard added: “These connections are testament to a whole school commitment to sport and the passion it fuels among our pupils.

“By forging mutually beneficial partnerships that facilitate development opportunities and sporting experiences, schools can get the best performances out of young sporting talent.”

Providing talented players with opportunities to develop is an area where Trent College excels and the school has earned a reputation for sporting excellence.

Last year they became U18 Girls’ National Indoor Hockey Champions for the first time and were placed placed 11th on School Sport Magazine’s Top 100 Independent Sports Schools’ list.

The ambitious school sports programme that drives this success is built on a philosophy Richard calls the 3Ps (Participation, Progression and Performance).

It ensures that every pupil receives support according to his or her abilities and has a clear development pathway.

Richard explained: “Our relationship with Beeston Hockey Club is a brilliant example of a partnership that allows our pupils to access a higher level of performance, which in turn benefits our outcomes at Trent College.

“We have forged relationships with partner organisations in all of our performance sports to ensure our most skilled athletes receive the highest levels of support.

“We work closely with Notts CCC and Derbyshire CCC, who often use our facilities for their 2nd XI fixtures, as well as Loughborough Lightning, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers.”

By Laura Taylor, Oct 9 2020 01:30PM

Forty teams and 20 finals will kick off an exciting seven days of schools’ football at Lilleshall National Sports Centre next week.

While other sports have decided to pull the plug on national finals, schools’ football has been widely praised for its decision to complete the 2019/20 season.

Two of them involve Ivybridge Community College – one against Wade Deacon High School in the U15 boys’ competition (Tuesday 3pm) and another against Manchester’s Walkden High School in the U15 girls’ event (Tuesday 3.15pm).

In the U12 boys cup, St Francis Xavier’s College, Liverpool will tackle Toynbee School, Winchester on Wednesday at 2.30pm while Bolton’s Turton School will play either Kent’s Hurstmere School or Bishop’s Stortford High School in the U14 boys’ competition at 2.45pm.

Also among the 20 finals being played are Surrey’s Wilson’s School against Derbyshire’s Repton School in the U18 boys’ event on Thursday at 3.15pm,

Cherwell School and Alder Grange School will battle it out for national honours in the delayed PlayStation ESFA U13 girls’ final on Friday at 2.30pm while Blackpool’s Hodgson Academy will take on Essex’ Shenfield High School at 3pm.

The soccer extravaganza will end on Monday October 19 with Havering’s Emerson Park School playing Solihull’s St Peter’s Catholic School in the U13 boys’ final at 2.45pm and Thomas Telford School against Barking Abbey School in the U18 girls’ final.

Once completed, the teams will do battle all over again when the ESFA 2020/21 season officially starts in November.

By Laura Taylor, Sep 30 2020 04:51PM

Entries have opened for the 2021 School Sport Magazine U15 and new U18 Twenty/20 Girls Cricket Cups.

Aimed at girls in years 10 and below and years 11-13, the tournaments are open to both state and independent schools in England and Wales. Entries close at the end of February each year or when the competition entry limits have been reached.

The 11-a-side hardball competitions, with an entry fee of £36 each or £70 for both, will be run on a local, county and regional basis in the early rounds to avoid excess travel and will be played mainly in midweek but weekends if preferred.

The U15 competition will again be run in group stages before the summer half term before the winners qualify for the knockout stages with finals day (semi finals and final) taking place in early September. The U18 competition will have its finals day at the end of the summer term.

U15 girls may play in both competitions but U18 girls can only play in their age group. Schools can enter by emailing [email protected]

A competition spokesman said: “The 2020 schools’ cricket season may have been wiped by the coronavirus – but we are confident that 2021 will bring the sport back bigger and better than ever before.”

By Laura Taylor, Sep 25 2020 04:57PM

Schools’ football is back with a bang – with soccer bosses determined to complete as many of last season’s competitions as possible.

While other national bodies have either decided or been forced to cancel their 2019/20 national finals, the English Schools Football Association (ESFA) have hit the ground running.

Many of the remaining quarter and semi finals are being played with plans for finals to be completed in October.

The latest team to celebrate are Widnes’ Wade Deacon High School who reached the final of the PlayStation U15 Boys Cup with a 4-1 victory over Yorkshire’s King James School.

Standing in their way of national success will be the winners of Ivybridge Community College and Redborne Upper School.

The new season is planned to kick off in November.