Celebrating National School Sport Week

National School Sport Week

In celebration of the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week we caught up with Jennifer Rooke, a teacher at Charter Academy Secondary School in Portsmouth. Jennifer signed up pupils aged 11-14 to our ‘Go Sail’ programme during the summer term in 2017.

Go Sail combines an educational STEM workshop on the challenge of America’s Cup sailing with an on the water sailing taster session. Combining sailing with STEM learning has proven to be an effective formula for engaging young people with a range of learning styles and backgrounds. The young people find out about the role STEM subjects play in today’s world and also have the chance to sign-up to further sailing to gain RYA qualifications.

Following their Go Sail session, Jennifer successfully applied for funding from Sport England to set up a school sailing club for her students. Here is what she had to say about Go Sail and the positive effects it has had on her pupils back in the classroom:

Q. Why did you bring the students along to Go Sail?

“We decided to bring our students along because it is a great opportunity to introduce them to sailing and the theory behind it. I really liked how the day was structured, with the combination of theory in the morning and practical sailing in the afternoon. The kids loved the activities on the Tech Deck; exploring the AC50 hull, using the grinding machine, building their sails and testing them in the wind tunnel. These activities provided some great links to what they learn in the classroom.

 All the students we brought live by the sea, yet the majority haven’t been out on the water before.  For them to get out on the water in a dinghy was extremely exhilarating. They all loved it and asked me when they could go again as soon as they came off the water!”

 Q. Did you see any change in behaviour or attitude when back at school.

“Yes, there has been a shift in teacher / pupil relationships. The students respond to the teachers who came on the trip in a different way. Whilst away from school, they see their teachers differently and realise they are trying to help them! I have a couple of students who are quite challenging, but this trip provided them the realisation that if they engage positively in school this is something they could do and achieve.

 I am now looking to have a club to engage the pupils on a weekly basis. I know they would all love to continue sailing and this would also have a positive impact on their behaviour over time.  Behavioural change is hard; one pupil who really wants to come on the Go Sail trips is walking a very fine line, but when you mention sailing to him, that focuses him for a day or two, which is why I can already see the positive effects a weekly session would have.

Sailing has given the pupils the focus that there is something to work for within schools. The pupils who have joined us for our initial sailing club sessions have absolutely loved it. They come back filled with enthusiasm excitedly telling me how they are trying to sail faster than the other team; it is really nice to see how motivated they are.”

 What would you say to other teachers to encourage them to sign up for Go Sail?

“Go for it, it is an excellent opportunity, your students will absolutely love it.  The America’s Cup campaign is amazing, you don’t ordinarily get the chance to see the technology behind it on a day to day basis. But this programme provides a unique experience for kids to see how science and maths link to a professional sports team. To get out on the water is just an excellent opportunity and it’s free!”

To find out more about this programme, please contact events@1851trust.org.uk / 01489 587850.

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