Oxfordshire School Games: turning the tide on how we champion activity for Oxfordshire’s young people
Posted: Wed, 20 Jul 2022 15:08
The start of July was a busy period for our Children and Young People team as we hosted not only the School Games County Festival but also the Commonwealth Games Celebration Day. These events felt particularly memorable. Partly because COVID-19 put a stop to any face-to-face events and prevented Oxfordshire's young people from being able to enjoy the benefits of being active together. But these events also allowed us to reflect on our progress turning the tide on how we champion sport and physical activity for every child and young person in the county.
Oxfordshire school games: why the new direction?
In Oxfordshire, there are thousands of children and young people who have not been able to access sport and missed out on the significant benefits that an active life brings. The COVID-19 crisis has made existing inequalities far worse and there are serious concerns about children and young people's mental health, with obesity and inactivity levels on the rise.
With this in mind, we have decided to make a change to the overall School Games offer for Oxfordshire. Being active protects our physical and mental health and wellbeing, improves educational attainment and life chances and boosts confidence and self-esteem. Using new, targeted interventions in combination with traditional School Games events can help us be more inclusive for all children and young people. Have a watch of the video here.
School Games County Finals
On Tuesday 5th July, more than 760 children came together to enjoy QuadKids, Rounders and Archery. The Rounders festival saw over 400 girls take part, which was a particular priority for us. Following recent Active Lives data, which saw a significant drop in girls' participation in physical activity and sport in girls during the pandemic, we've made engaging girls in sport a key focus. Our work has included a Female Participation focus day at our Children and Young people conference in February and a Stress Busters day which took place earlier in the year. Our partners over at Project PT were also in attendance gathering insight from the participants on how we can better understand key barriers to physical activity, and influence change to address them.
Additionally, as we continue to extend opportunities to wider range of students, it was fantastic to note that 52% of participants were attending their first ever School Games County Finals. Of that large group of students, 67 had Special Educational Needs or a Disability and we hope this number continues to increase in the coming terms and years.
This was also the first time we ran Archery as a give-it-a-go event, aimed at children who are less active and may not enjoy team sports. It was great to see lots of young people taking part and enjoying themselves and I'm sure we even saw some of the adults and Active Ambassadors have a go!
The sun was shining for a fantastic day out in some amazing facilities – huge thanks to Radley College for their incredible support in hosting this event. We also welcomed over 80 young leaders from the Marlborough School, Didcot Girls School, The Oxford Academy and Ignite who helped us lead the competitions smoothly and efficiently. It truly was a great example of partnership working across the board and we want to reiterate our thanks to everyone who helped us deliver a great day.
Commonwealth Games Celebration Day: The Marlborough School.
The aim of this event was to buddy up Year 6 students who are anxious about going to secondary school with some Year 7's who can then be a friendly and familiar face when they make the step up in September. We know that physical activity and sports can be a great way of building confidence and with the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, what better way than creating an event where students can have a go at some of the Commonwealth Games sports.
The day started with some mentoring training for the Year 7 students which was led by Jenna Downing (World champion inline skater and YST Mentor Athlete). She kicked off the session with a very inspiring life story which then led on to various activities and challenges for everyone to try. We were so pleased with how engaged every pupil was, eager to listen and learn.
Following this, the Year 7 students were then paired with their feeder schools and took part in the carousel of activities which included Boccia, Cycling, Rugby and Archery. We also had an arts and crafts station where children could design a tile that reflected who they are which will then be displayed at their secondary school.
A huge thank you to The Marlborough School for letting us use their facilities and to Lesley Malloch for organising logistics. Thanks also to the Oxfordshire School Games Organisers for putting the event together and a special mention for Rachel Mills who did a lot of behind-the-scenes organisation.
A well-deserved summer break is on the horizon for lots of schools, School Games Organisers and more importantly, the students themselves. It gives us the chance to reflect on the year just gone and how we can keep engaging all children and young people in physical activity over the next school year. Watch this space!
Photo credits: The Plastic Goldfish Company