As a school with an unrelenting commitment to high standards and pupil wellbeing, bringing in an external supplier to provide PE lessons and wraparound care could be seen as a leap of faith.
Yet for St. Luke’s Church of England Primary School in West Norwood, South London, it has been a resounding success.
Working closely in partnership with Premier Education, St. Luke’s has been able to enrich the curriculum, reinforce the school’s ethos, and better support pupils on their wellbeing journey.
Eight years ago, the leadership team at St Luke’s decided to enhance the school’s PE provision, bringing it in line with the high level of education they delivered in all other subjects.
There were interested to find a provider who could also supply dedicated wraparound care sessions, rather than expecting in-house teachers to staff it.
“Our teachers in the classroom may be excellent but they’re not equipped to teach everything” comments Sophia Bryan-Whyte, head of school at St. Luke’s.
Integrating an external coach into the school and trusting them to deliver the physical education curriculum was a gamble, particularly for a school with such high standards and a very clear vision about how to support its pupils.
Sophia felt strongly that the role went above and beyond what happened on the field: “We aim for our learners to have academic understanding of themselves as learners but also to understand the importance of taking care of themselves and being physically sound.
“Keeping fit and active is part of leading a healthy lifestyle but, as a school that prioritises mental health and wellbeing, we were anxious for the provider to embrace the focus on PE going wider than that.”
The school got in touch with Premier Education, the country’s leading provider of sport and physical activity to primary schools, who demonstrated a thorough understanding of the curriculum but also shared the leadership team’s vision to support the children with a more holistic attitude to healthy living.
Premier Education was appointed and provided a resident coach who was responsible for leading the school’s PE sessions and stimulating programme of wraparound care.
Eight years later, the relationship goes from strength to strength, with Premier Education continuing to provide weekly PE lessons and breakfast and after-school clubs.
Sophia elaborates: “What we get from Premier Education is not easily found. It’s all about the relationship we’ve built with the coaches and the fact that we know we are able to trust what’s being delivered in terms of high-quality PE provision. The coaches are knowledgeable, respectful and they have a full understanding of the school’s ethos. They work with us towards our vision and we value that immensely.
“Premier Education understand that it’s not just about the PE curriculum. They work with our learners to develop resilience, instil an understanding of perseverance and to cement their own sense of self as individuals. Plus, it’s not just about what is happening in our classrooms, Premier Education has helped us to deliver workshops for parents, bringing the parents in and working with families.
“There’s no worrying about who is coming in or what coach it might be. Our coach is our resident coach and he is absolutely fantastic. He understands the needs of the school and the needs of the learners. He is always mindful to help the learners to reach their personal goals and uses appropriate and encouraging language which we really value.
“Even more importantly our coach can tell other teachers, or myself as a school leader, where a particular learner is at in terms of their PE progress and if there’s anything else they’ve noticed around safeguarding.”
Having a solid understanding of the National Curriculum as well as what Ofsted requires, Premier Education were able to add a valuable voice to the school community.
Sophia couldn’t be more pleased with the results: “What our learners get from Premier Education is invaluable. They love the sessions; you can see it on the field, hear it in their voices, notice it when parents come in telling us that their children are actually enjoying the PE lessons.
“Our learners understand the importance of taking care of themselves and that’s not just from assemblies, it’s because the coaches tell them how important it is.
“The breakfast club helps us with attendance because it makes sure that all learners have had something healthy to eat in the morning and, on top of that, they’ve had an opportunity to interact with the coach and socialise with their friends. The wraparound care also supports families, offering an engaging childcare solution for parents who work long hours.
“For the school, we’ve actively promoted our relationship with Premier Education, which in turn has strengthened our offering and enabled us to build our numbers in the school. Our learners and parents value what we are offering.
“Whatever we need, nothing is too hard for Premier Education. If we weren’t working with them, we’d be missing out.”