Royal High School Bath lead Inclusive Futures project
In partnership with one of our Royal High School Bath alumna Becca Higgs, who is the lead for the Bath Inclusive Futures team, based at Bath University we provide our students with opportunities to experience disability sport, lead tasks for young people with disabilities and on a larger scale, contribute to event organisation through volunteering. Year 9-11 students are offered the opportunity of Upskills training in a PE lesson and those wishing to take the experience further contribute to community volunteering programmes assisting young athletes with disabilities on a one-one basis that has for some, enabled attendance at mainstream sports clubs. Royal High School students have comprised the volunteer body for the Playground to Podium event, Youth Sports Trust Regional Camp and this year, Sainsbury’s School Games where their achievement has been noted by the mayor of Bath and they will soon be recognised for their contributions.
The aim of the project is to enable opportunities for our students to volunteer whilst developing their own skill set and contribute to the wider community. To gain an understanding of the challenges faced by others and to be a positive influence on the lives of others through their own actions.
The Inclusive Futures project aims to deliver fully inclusive physical activity and sport opportunities through the engagement of all young people. A successful project is dependent upon regular and effective communication between the school and the organisation and the project is dependent upon the students from the Royal High School being fully aware of their role and personal impact. Immediate beneficiaries include the young people who may access inclusive sport for the first time. They may be our RHSB students who realise they are able to positively impact and influence others of the value of participating in physical activity. They may be the students back at school who have not participated in the project but whom may be inspired to in the future. Our students and the Bath IF project are putting ‘Bath’ as a city on the map so to speak. Increased recognition for the project can only be a positive impact for future generations.
The project came about with my remit into a new post at the school being to identify potential outreach opportunities for our girls to make an impact in the community. It transpired that the lead for the Bath Inclusive Futures project was looking for volunteers and with the initial volunteering event, Playground to Podium being such a success in terms of the impact our volunteers had, this resulted in further opportunities due to the quality of students at our school who desire to be involved. The link was established January 2015.
In terms of resources, the support of the school is critical to the success of the project. Opportunities must be carefully constructed for students outside of their academic curriculum and support staff are used whenever possible, placement students for example alongside myself as the main lead. There is no financial contribution or cost to students.
There is a quantitative assessment in that numbers of students volunteering their involvement to projects has increased exponentially. Equally for the Bath IF project, numbers of young people with disabilities participating in sport and physical activity has increased. Qualitative is clearly visible in our school as students are so excited and effusive about their experiences but this is certainly a ‘building’ area as currently many of the projects need further publicity in schools for example general knowledge about the Sainsburys School Games is not apparent amongst young people. In terms of the Bath IF project, feedback from young people coming into contact with our girls has been incredible and quite tear jerking to read. One young lady has been inspired to attend a mainstream sports club for the first time and is being mentored by one of our RHSB volunteers in her own time, no value can be placed upon this.
Pupils from year 9-11 are offered Upskills training. Volunteering opportunities are usually for those aged 14 or over and our school is all girls, so they are all female. Participants within the project are from any age and from any Bath and North East Somerset maintained school. They are both male and female.
This is becoming an established link and although not yet a year old, is an annual project we hope to continue as long as the Youth Sport Trust run the initiative. If the YST did discontinue the project at any stage I would think it is highly likely we would continue our project within the community.