Active Devon is currently working with 32 schools through the Opening Schools Facilities programme and will be extending this in the current year.
Paignton Academy based in Devon is one of the schools who have been allocated funding as an opportunity to widen their extra curricular offer in a targeted way. They want to engage students who have additional needs, don't access the current extra curricular programme and offer greater support for these children to access exercise.
John Julyan, Cluster Development Manager at Paignton Academy comments: “The Opening Schools Facilities funding has allowed us to purchase a range of different equipment and access specialist coaching through experienced youth workers and coaches.
“The sessions were partly led by the targeted group, some of whom we consulted about what they might want to take part in. However, many of them didn't necessarily know what they might want to do, so we put on a few different activities to help shape their ideas. The activities that were identified included short tennis, badminton, new age kurling, big ball volleyball, table tennis and archery.
“The students were identified through the Special Educational Need and Disability Coordinator and Learning Support team. These students were invited to come along and have a go and additional reminders and support was provided in the lead up – this really helped with getting a good number to the after school club.
“We have run four sessions so far, so it is still early days. A big part of the sessions is about increasing the students' confidence and self esteem, as well as opening up the opportunity of forming new friendships with others. It is great to see that we are reaching those we wanted to support, with over 86 per cent of the students attending the first four sessions identified as having a Special Educational Need, Disability or in receipt of targeted support at school.
“Looking forward, the students are having more of a say about the activities that they would like to take part in for the future. Four of the students have already accessed the Academy's Badminton Club, which is a fantastic achievement.”
Rebecca Skinner, Strategic Lead for Children and Young People at Active Devon said: “We are delighted to be working with Paignton Academy through the Opening School Facilities programme. Over the last few years, we have developed a strong working relationship with the school, working with them to support their students and local community become more physically active.
“The Opening School Facilities programme provides Active Devon with a real opportunity to provide funding and support to schools to enable them to widen and create a physical activity offer that meets the needs of their student and ensure that school facilities across the county are accessible to the wider community beyond the school day.
“A huge amount of work has already been undertaken by these schools to get their projects planned and we’re looking forward to working with them to help them develop and flourish over the next two years and beyond.”
To read more about Opening School Facilities click here