Croydon High's Athletics Track and Field Experience (Ridgeway Primary School, South Croydon)
On four consecutive Fridays in the summer, Croydon High hosted an athletics event for local girls in years 4 and 5. Almost 70 girls took part and experienced all the thrills of competing in track and field athletics events. Over the four weeks they were coached in long jump, high jump, hurdles, javelin, sprint and distance running, discus and shot, with the use of specialist appropriately sized equipment. On the final Friday, the girls competed against one another and, at the end of the session, medals and trophies were awarded to the top performers and certificates to all.
Building the girls’ confidence and interest in competitive sport is the key driver for events like these and the aim is that it may ignite something that they will want to continue with. Every family went away with a useful fact sheet, detailing opportunities at local athletics clubs in case they wish to continue what they have started. A key aim was to encourage girls to try sports that they may never have heard of and certainly never tried. Another aim was to foster friendships between like-minded girls all at local schools.
The school applied for and secured funding for a community based sports event from HSBC's Sports and Sustainability Fund, via the organisation's partnership with the Girls Day School Trust. The school has run a sports event like this every year since 2012, offering a wide range of sporting events and teaching new skills to local children.
Whilst the HSBC funding provided the impetus for these events, they rely heavily on the creativity, enthusiasm and energy of those who run them. Teaching and non-teaching staff work as a team with older pupils in the school, to devise, promote and organise the events. Sports scholars and sixth formers act as excellent role-models for the younger girls and get fully involved in the activities. All events make full use of the school's facilities.
Feedback from parents in a short survey was very positive, with many commenting on the excellent organisation and superb facilities.
One parent emailed in advance of the last session to say “ I have to say my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed the athletics at Croydon High School. Brilliant venue, great coaches and the advantage of being with other schools and meeting other girls from schools in Croydon. Nina's school sports day was today and she won all of the events that she competed in, in particular the long jump and high jump. I think the last three weeks really boosted her confidence.”
Feedback from local schools was equally positive as this letter from the Head of Greenvale Primary made clear:
"I would like to pass on my thanks and appreciation to the organisers of the recent athletics course held at Croydon High School.
A number of year 4 and 5 girls from Greenvale attended all four weeks of the course and the feedback received from them has been fantastic. They enjoyed participating in new athletic events, using equipment not normally available to them and also meeting girls from other neighbouring schools. They particularly enjoyed the competition on the last da y of the course.
Parents have commented on the wonderful organisation and how good it was for the girls to have this experience. They also appreciated the chance to use the wonderful facilities at Croydon High School.
Thank you to all involved in this venture and we very much hope it can be repeated in the future."
Almost 70 girls took part; about one third of these coming from Croydon High Juniors and the rest from three local state schools including Ridgeway (Sanderstead), St Peter’s ( South Croydon) and Greenvale (Selsdon). It was an 'all girls' event focus on building female participation in competitive sport.
The girls were aged 8 and 9.
The plan is to run a sports based activity every summer as part of the school's commitment to community engagement and to fit in with the wider outreach programme involving local schools and children. Whilst the school will continue to bid for funding where it is available, there is a real appreciation of the benefits these activities bring to all who participate in them and resources will be found to ensure they continue.