Healthy habits for life
This week (indoors!), our U16 girls’ netball team celebrated a significant victory (40-21) against a strong all-girls' school in Birmingham - in fact, the only Midlands school to achieve more highly than us at A-level this year! This is all the more special given that this term is our hockey term. We wish the team every success as they proceed to the semi-finals of the U16s shield (north) competition of 35 schools after Christmas.
We know that there is a decline in the number of girls playing sport nationally in their mid-teens, at an age when sports participation is demonstrably beneficial. A recently published research project undertaken by Manchester Metropolitan University and commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust and HMC (The Heads’ Conference) unsurprisingly links sports participation in school with higher levels of wellbeing for young people. The full report can be accessed here. It also found that sports participation is a significant predictor of self-belief and mental toughness as life skills. Lower levels of participation in Y10 (relative to Y9) coincided with lower levels of wellbeing, self-belief and mental toughness, especially amongst girls. The impact of that mental toughness and self-efficacy on life satisfaction and happiness was then greater for girls than boys.
Another Youth Sport Trust survey, published in October, found that the gap between the proportion of boys and girls in England who enjoy PE lessons is widening. 59 per cent of girls in secondary schools who responded to the survey said they liked PE or liked it a lot, compared with 84 per cent of the boys. The girls' proportion in the same survey in 2016 was 74 per cent, whereas for boys it has remained stable. This seems counter-intuitive when we consider the higher national profile of successful women’s sport in recent times.
I am impressed by our own girls’ healthy approach to sport and PE, and they recognise that it enables a positive break from their studies and examination pressures. We have actually had marginally more girls’ fixtures in the calendar this term than for boys. We have also been keen to provide the opportunity lower down the school for the whole year group to represent LGS alongside their friends (e.g. A – D teams), and we hope to sustain that enthusiasm higher up the school. Other positive strategies adopted by the PE Department have included:
- Morning sessions in the Fitness Suite, with some girls-only sessions both before school and at lunchtime.
- Our provision for PE in Y11 has been amended so that pupils can engage in activities solely of their choice, including swimming.
- House sport has been extended to lunchtimes, including boys' and girls' football and basketball.
- We now offer 15 different activities for Senior Games (Y11-13), both on-site and off-site.
- A new Sporting Appearance board in the Sports Centre recognises pupils for their contribution to the sporting community, regardless of age, team or sport.
- Swimming provision has been made more pupil-friendly, particularly with regard to what boys and girls can wear in the pool.
- We have joined with LGJS for the Morning Mile, which attracts steady numbers.
Fundamentally, we hope that there is something for everyone, from those who compete at a high level, to others who are content to enjoy participation and recreational sport alongside their friends. Sport plays a key part in all-round wellbeing, and we aspire to encouraging healthy habits for life.