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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.

By Laura Taylor, Sep 9 2020 02:33PM

Rugby-playing schools have been dealt a huge blow with the news that all age-group competitions have been cancelled for the 2020/21 season.

This includes the RFU’s prestigious National Schools U18 and U15 Cups & Champions Trophy and the new School Sport Magazine National Schools U14 Championships.

It is not known yet whether the popular Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens Tournament will be able to take place next March.

As a contact sport, rugby has been hit hard by the coronavirus with the game being one of the last to resume in its full format.

From the start of the new term, clubs and schools are able to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs and schools using touch rugby activity, ie no tackling, scrums or line-outs as the RFU moves to stage D of its return to community rugby roadmap.

Limited and restricted contact rugby training is also now allowed as varied training conditions will allow the return of tackling, lineouts and rucks, ensuring that players are prepared to perform these skills safely and effectively with some restrictions.

Mauls, scrums, opposed lineouts or upright tackles are still not permissible as the transmission exposure risk remains high. Contact training sessions have to be carried out in small groups of no more than six players.

It is understood that most schools will now concentrate on intra-school rugby rather than inter-school fixtures this term.

A spokesman for the RFU said: “We know there are multiple decisions required on student bubbles, extra-curricular trips/enrichment, transport and physical activity before committing to playing rugby, particularly with other schools and colleges.

“Whilst we encourage a return to rugby activity as soon as possible, the decision to do so will ultimately rest with each school or college.”

In another blow to schools and school travel companies, rugby tours that involve full contact match play rugby remain banned for the foreseeable future.

By Laura Taylor, Sep 8 2020 05:19PM

Competitive sport in schools is struggling to recover in the aftermath of the coronavirus.

After a whole summer of sport was decimated by Covid-19, many games face an uncertain future as pupils return for a new Autumn term.

Many schools have cancelled all fixtures before half term. And while football and netball hope to restart sooner rather than later, the pathway to resumption remains an uncertain one.

(For a full report check out the new edition of School Sport Magazine out this week)

By Laura Taylor, Aug 27 2020 12:45PM

Two more national schools’ events have become victims of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 63rd ESSA Secondary Schools' Team Swimming Championships, due to be held in November 2020, and all of the qualifying competitions have been cancelled.

The ESSA’s 2020 Diving Championships, due to be held in December, have also been sunk.

Stewart Nicklin, the ESSA’s championships secretary, said: “The ESSA management board have reviewed the current situation and taken into account a number of factors including availability of pools for qualification events and national championship competitions, and the delay in resumption of operation of schools/clubs to provide training for swimmers.

“It has been concluded that no further ESSA championships will be held in 2020. It is anticipated that ESSA events will be run as normal in 2021, though we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust plans as required.”

Swimming is the latest sport to have been hit by Covid-19 – but all games are reeling in the aftermath of the virus.

Schools cricket, athletics and tennis saw their whole summer programmes wiped out for the first time in living memory.

The English Schools Athletic Association, who held virtual events to keep young athletes motivated, are now deciding whether the preliminary, regional and final rounds of the prestigious Cross Country Schools Cup can take place in October, November and December.

It’s a similar situation at the LTA, who were forced to cancel their historic Glanville and Aberdare U18 boys’ and girls’ tennis championships.

Their U13 Year 7&8 and U15 9&10 competitions, leading up to national finals at the Bolton Arena in December, have also now been cancelled.

While netball and football work out ways to bring competitive matches back into their schedules, contact sports will become the last to resume, hitting games like rugby particularly hard.

Many schools have cancelled all fixtures before half term. And while football and netball hope to restart sooner rather than later, the pathway to resumption remains an uncertain one.

(Check out more detailed news, views and reports on all sports in the new edition of School Sport Magazine out on September 7)

By Laura Taylor, Aug 21 2020 04:45PM

Schools rugby competitions in 2020/21 will only be able to take place if the normal game is back up and running by October 18.

Traditional national competitions such as the RFU’s U18 and U15 Cups and the new School Sport Magazine U14 Cup will be cancelled unless stage F of the return to rugby roadmap is reached in time.

New age group guidelines published by the sport’s governing body today indicate that the game has less than three weeks to return to normal for original competition timetables to be scheduled.

Between September 14 and October 18, reaching group F will mean a revised competition schedule and a later finish to the season – but cancellation looms if further delays occur.

(Red card for schools’ rugby union? Check out the new edition of School Sport Magazine on September 7)

By Laura Taylor, Aug 6 2020 11:43AM

2020 – the year the world came to a standstill. No one ever saw it coming, but in a matter of weeks flights stopped, borders closed and people around the world were asked to stay at home.

As the UK went into lockdown in late March, so did the schools, and for school tour operator Rayburn Tours, this made the situation even more complicated.

Group travel specialists since 1965, Rayburn Tours is an independent, family-run business that’s dedicated to creating tailor-made educational, sports and ski trips for schools.

Managing director Jamie Boyden explained: “We were challenged on both ends of our operational chain. We were dealing with cancelled trips for schools – many of which had staff working remotely, and in some cases, not easily able to make contact with all parents – and we were dealing with suppliers in countries that are also in lockdown and in some cases unable to respond.”

“We’ve always been proud of our individual, tailored service. For decades, we’ve been telling schools how we work with each client individually to provide them with the tour that matches their needs, and in times like these it’s never been so important to be dealt with as an individual.”

Rayburn Tours recently announced their number one aim was to ensure their clients were not left out of pocket by a situation that was beyond anyone’s control.

Whether they postponed tours, helped groups claim on their insurance or issued a refund, the team worked tirelessly to ensure their clients wouldn’t lose out financially – and the work still continues.

Jamie added: “Does this approach mean it takes longer for all clients to get a resolution? Unfortunately, yes, as we are liaising with airlines, hoteliers and range of suppliers all around the world. But the pay-off is that it ensures our clients get the best outcome for their group.”

“Many have chosen to postpone their tour to 2021 in the anticipation that normal travel will resume. However, for groups where this is not possible and a refund is being issued, we are committed to doing everything we can to achieve this in 12-16 weeks.”

And it seems that this level of customer service, and the ability to be able to offer financial peace of mind, has given schools the confidence to start thinking about the future.

Jamie said: “Schools are still booking trips for 2021 with us which is fantastic to see, as it means they’re still keen to give their students the opportunity to learn in some of the most incredible destinations around the world – and we’re pleased to be able to help them facilitate this safely and confidently.”

So what does the future of travel look like?

“Well, the answer is, companies simply don’t know. Tour operators like Rayburn Tours will continue to monitor the developing situation closely, continue to communicate with clients, and adapt what they do to offer as much flexibility as possible to help schools plan future trips and, eventually, travel.

“We must be optimistic that a level of normality will return in all areas of our lives soon and, for our own mental health, we must give ourselves something to look forward to. And that thing is travel.”

By Laura Taylor, Jul 27 2020 11:15AM

A blueprint for the return of schools’ football has been improved by the Government.

The English School Football Association have confirmed that competitive grassroots soccer can resume with Covid safety measures in place.

It means that national, regional and local tournaments will be able to resume when the new term begins in September.

Until July 31, teams can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people.

From August 1, competitive matches can begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions

And from September , leagues and cup competitions can commence once associations, schools and facility providers have completed the necessary risk assessments and comprehensive plans are in place.

At this stage, indoor football and Futsal is not permitted although the FA is working with indoor facility providers to develop appropriate guidance for indoor formats as soon as possible.