Many are prepared to suffer for their art, few are prepared to learn how to draw. 

This quote attributed to Simon Munnery rather nicely summarises that cognitive conflict that takes place in school each day. ‘Me, Sir, me, me…’ goes the enthusiastic child, pushing them selves forward to take a leading part in something, be that Art, Drama, Sport or Showing off. And why not, because you can’t learn unless you have opportunities to practice, and it turns out, we also need the adrenaline rush of success and failure in order to turn learning opportunities into knowledge and skills.

I attended the 16 school football tournament for Year 4s yesterday, one that our 16 year old BTEC students had put together (under the watchful gaze of Head of PE Dan Boorman and colleague Scott Harris) as part of the Sainsbury’s School Games. There were many firsts on the day. Our BTEC students reffed the whole show, with both skills and due deference to the age of the children involved. It takes patience and no mean talent to work successfully with young children, but you could see our mighty team had won many friends on the day. Another first was the combination of our boys and girls together (at least 2 girls had to be on the pitch at any time), and the ‘mix’ prove very successful, with our team losing by just 1 goal in the final. It was our sports development officers first major public appearance as a trio, Ed Barber, Katie Hudson and Charlie Wright. These three graduate members of the school staff and Holiday Club  team are making a real impact too in terms of rebuilding talent outreach programmes for Maidenhead and the wider Royal Borough.

On such a bright and sunny day, with some 150 children, teachers, parents, friends and family, perhaps there is no better job than being an sports educator. Though still adolescent and learning, our BTEC students clearly are at work and being fulfilled by that experience of doing something really of worth, full of meaning for the young children aged 8 and 9. The day had its fair share of penalty shootouts, the agonies and ecstasies of sudden death in terms of tournament progression, and tears of joy and frustration in equal measure. For the BTEC course leaders, their faces shining with the professional pleasure arising from seeing their young coaches work so hard, make mistakes (a few) and learn from them, secure in the knowledge that their students were absolutely up to the mark.

And for the Sports Development officers, to deliver an event of such magnitude and importance for 2014 to the young boys and girls, knowing not just that their coaching and organisational skills were up to the mark, but that professional reward for a good job well done. Life is not all about sitting at a screen and writing plans, and communicating with colleagues virtually. I guess you can make and lose a few bitcoins that way and pay some bills in the passing, but what sports educators can do is meld passion, practice, endeavour and skill development into something that inspires a generation. That’s definitely part of the Olympic legacy we were  asked to strive and deliver, and I can’t help but give my school and wonderful colleagues, teachers and students of all age a pat on the back.

As title of this entry makes clear, it’s one thing to step up to the mark, quite another to ensure that a flash in the pan becomes a shining beacon. To match one artistic quote with another, it was Edgar Degas who said “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do”.  I saw in the faces of all when we chose to lead the Sainsbury’s games for RBWM that it was a tough challenge, and again yesterday at the close – a difficult job well done.

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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