We believe that a high quality PE curriculum and a healthy lifestyle can have significant benefits for children. That’s why at Dame Dorothy we are seeking to create opportunities inside and outside of school for children to be actively involved in a variety of sports.
The PE grant from government is being used as a means to improve staff knowledge of PE by working alongside top coaches to deliver quality lessons. We are building teachers confidence and capacity to deliver quality gymnastics, dance, tennis lessons etc in the future.
The impact upon the children is evident. One of the first meaningful links we established was with Castleview Enterprise Academy and their new venture of a cricket academy. This has resulted in dozens of children becoming involved with this project over the past five years, resulting in several pupils going on to play cricket at South Shields CC, and other local clubs, despite never before playing the game.
Arguably, our most exciting venture has been promoting tennis through links with another local club, Boldon LTC. Coaches have delivered first class tennis sessions to children aged 4-11; provided opportunities to play schools tournaments at Boldon club; attend coaching outside of school. Our tennis leaders programme, which runs after school all year round has provided leadership skills for children in KS2 to support younger children as they begin to play tennis. This focus on tennis has led to some wonderful opportunities for our children, none more so than the school taking a group of our young tennis leaders to Wimbledon over the past three years. Recognition of our school’s efforts to promote tennis to all children, regardless of background, was received in 2019 when Dame Dorothy was named the LTA Education provider of the year award for Durham and Cleveland. More success was soon to follow when the school followed this up to win the North of Britain Award for Education by the LTA and were shortlisted as one of eight finalists in the national awards.
Swimming is a life skill and all key stage 2 classes receive half termly blocks of swimming at the Aquatic Centre. Our most able swimmers have become part of the City of Sunderland squad.
We have an active and successful football squad, who were division C winners in 2016.
Quality coaching in school is evident with football, gymnastics, dance and rugby during curriculum plus extended schools offers karate and more contemporary dance styles. Our after school Karate club has led to one of our pupils becoming a national champion and a European fighter.
Dame Dorothy is the lead school for all the north of Sunderland primary cluster. Dame Dorothy has achieved the Gold Standard Award for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and has assisted neighbouring schools to achieve awards as well. We were also one of the first schools in Sunderland to achieve the Great Active Sunderland Schools Charter Gold Award. In 2018 and 2019 we received the Platinum Award.
Our Young Leaders programme has been a huge success. It has promoted active lifestyles during the lunch hour to our younger children and developed the leadership skills of our older KS2 children. We are recognised in the city as a leading school for the Young Leaders programme. Each lunchtime involves a team of young leaders on the playground to lead games and support our younger children. They show great maturity and responsibility for their job and are an invaluable help to the lunchtime staff.
The latest drive to promote good health and active lifestyles are our thrice weekly mini pigs circuit club which runs before school starts. Each session is over subscribed.
Our other major initiative is the installation of our ‘Path to Wellbeing’ following a successful bid to raise funds. The path is used during lesson times so that every child runs at least one lap per day in order to raise heart rate. Since this initiative began over three years ago it has become embedded into the daily routine of the children who expect and enjoy the opportunity to run with their friends. A spin off from this is our weekly running club with children aged 6 to 11 joining staff, and sometimes parents, to run 2km before lunch. The running club is a hugely popular and well attended club and we take our runners to compete in the Sunderland city 3k event each May. Two of our top runners have joined the local ‘Harriers’ and are competing at a very high standard.
Since 2018 we have taken the decision to employ a PE sports apprentice at the school to support the delivery of PE within the curriculum and in the classroom. This is a measure of our commitment to put PE at the forefront of what we do but also to support the growth of young people looking for a career in education.
PE and sport is thriving at Dame Dorothy but we believe we have the capacity to achieve so much more in the years to come.