Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Starting in 2018, more funding is going to be allocated to schools for PE, extra-curricular activities and healthy eating. The money is coming from the sugary drinks levy. All state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and sixth forms will receive some of the money.
The campaign is part of the government’s plan to tackle child obesity. Increasing sports and exercise in school is a crucial way to maintain children’s physical health and wellbeing. The NHS recommend that children need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis to stay healthy and well. Sports such as swimming, football, rugby and gymnastics are ideal activities. These can help children to reach their recommended amount of exercise per week.
However, PE lessons and extracurricular sports activities are beneficial beyond just physical health. Taking children outside the classroom can improve their mental health and teach them skills for the future.
Educating through sport can have benefits which stretch beyond school. Let’s look at the positives to take from sport and the best ways to get children involved.
Focus on a Non-Academic Subject
Not all children are academically-minded. Sport is a great opportunity for those who struggle in the classroom to really shine and highlight their other skills.
Over 2% of jobs in England involve sport or sport-related activities. This means that knowledge and skills from sport can be transferred to the workplace. From coaching, being a lifeguard or even teaching PE, starting young can open up lots of work opportunities later in life.
Teaching the skills and knowledge for these kinds of jobs is important. It lets children know that academic knowledge isn’t needed for all professions.
Teaching Skills for the Future
Many sports focus on teamwork to achieve a goal. This not only involves working with others, but also communicating effectively. Children are spending more and more time looking at screens, so it’s important to give them opportunities to communicate with others face to face.
But communication isn’t just important with one’s peers. Listening to a coach or teacher means learning to respect and take on board guidance from an external source.
UNESCO is one of many organisations to speak about the benefits of sport in education. As well as teamwork and respect, they discuss how sport can teach about fairness, inclusion and perseverance. Participating in a sport from a young age can help to develop these values and skills.
Social and emotional benefits such as inclusion, community safety and character-building have also been highlighted as additional benefits. The number of reasons for getting children involved in sport seem endless.
All of these skills help to develop a person physically and emotionally. However, they can also be transferred to the workplace. Employers will always look for skills beyond grades and qualifications. Being actively involved in sport shows a different kind of education.
There are arguments that sport is a great frontrunner for creating leaders. It encourages people to perform their best to win. As UNESCO highlight, we need skills to tackle issues such as unemployment, climate change and conflict. Creating leaders through sport is one such way to do this.
How to Get Children into Sport
Not all children are enthusiastic about participating in sport, particularly if they feel they aren’t ‘good’ at it. However, there are a plethora of sports for children to try. Encourage children to try different sports to find out which one they enjoy and feel confident doing.
Highlight to children that joining a club is a great way to make new friends. It can also open up lots of new, exciting opportunities, such as travelling. Many schools and clubs organise sports trips, such as rugby tours or netball tours across the UK and abroad. These activities and events are a great way to get kids excited about sport.
There are so many reasons why educating through sport should be a top priority. Promoting all kinds of sport to all children should be top of the agenda.
John O’Leary is a Director of miTour, offering tours for sports teams, clubs and schools. Teams can visit Europe or further afield for some amazing sporting events and experiences.
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