Aims of the project
The aim of the project is to introduce Year 6 children to Eton Fives and by so doing increase their aerobic fitness and hand-eye coordination. It has the added benefit of using muscles on both sides of the body; there is no backhand so players have to use both hands. It also introduces our boys to the ideas of concepts and in particular how to help individuals with different levels of aptitude. Primary schools do not have extensive sporting facilities and it is understandably difficult for them to introduce pupils to lesser-known games. Spending two afternoons the during the academic year undertaking this sort of work is both stimulating and rewarding. Critical to the success of the project is the enthusiasm of the staff and pupils at both schools. Particularly important is the input from the boys at Harrow, who have worked hard to improve the experience for every child over the last two years. The staff at Vaughan have been very supportive and have brought the children to Harrow in all weather conditions despite the 20-minute walk each way. The staff have also participated in the activity. The children at Vaughan are the main beneficiaries, but the project also introduces Harrow boys to teaching and to the local community.
Background and goals
Although there is a longstanding link between Vaughan and Harrow going back to its foundation, it is only in the last year that we have worked closely together. The impetus came from a meeting between the Head at Vaughan and the Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise at Harrow, and was greatly encouraged by our Head of Science, who had been a pupil at Vaughan 45 years ago.
The resources required are modest. We need to provide 30 pairs of small Fives gloves: a one off cost of around £500. One member of our teaching staff who assists with Fives is in attendance in an advisory capacity only. The coaching is run by the boys. There is a meeting before each session where the boys discuss the effectiveness of different drills and the advantages and disadvantages of using tennis balls and fives balls.
The impact has been entirely positive. There have been some remarkable thank you letters from the young children. The project is reviewed by the headteacher at Vaughan and the Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise annually.
Harrow provides at least 12 boys each week from Years 10-13 and it is the boys who act as the facilitators in this project.
Frequency and duration
The teaching of Fives remains one of a large number of boy-led activities that take place with our primary school partners and we hope it will continue for the foreseeable future. There are substantial reading and sports programmes with Vaughan and we are hoping to extend our involvement next year to include the teaching of Art.