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Schools Case Studies

Alcester Grammar School

Date Added: Wed, 18 Apr 2007

Related tags: Competition, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 2, Extra-curricular, Cross-curricular, Staff, On-water, Pe

June 2005

An example of how indoor rowing has enabled success for the whole school.


AGS is a selective co-ed with 900 pupils, has a three form entry and is located in South Warwickshire close to Alcester town centre. With a sixth form of over 400 it serves a wide catchment area. They have used Indoor Rowers for more than twelve years and some of the senior pupils are members of local rowing clubs. Their programme has grown and evolved as interest has spread throughout the school and all staff recognise the health benefits of regular rowing.

How Indoor Rowing Started

In 1994 one Indoor Rower was used after school by the PE Dept. staff for their own and sixth form fitness training. Today, they have eight which are based in the Sports Hall fitness room with other cardio-vascular equipment and weight resistance kit. Over the years Indoor Rowing has become well established within the School for PE, cross-curriculum use and clubs. Indoor Rowing is an activity in its own right but significantly enhances fitness for other sports.


Since the last report for the Schools section, AGS has a New Sports Hall. This facility gives much needed extra space for a wide range of sports and leisure activities for the School and community. With the retirement of the "Daves" - Towesland and Cowell - Mack McGready is the new Director Sport. From September a Sport School Coordinator (SSCo) will be based at AGS and their Partnership Development Manager (PDM) is already working from Kineton High School.

Curriculum: PE

Beginners are introduced to Indoor Rowing by a demonstration from staff of the stages of the rowing stroke. The importance of warm up/cool down stretching is explained and how to understand the detail/feedback from the PM3 Monitor. All Year 7 pupils go through this induction and are also shown how to set and check the drag settings. Pupils row at a low rate for a few minutes each with a buddy to help check and coach correct Rowing stroke technique. Staff are particularly keen to establish the coordination of movements.

Year 7 pupils have two weeks in the second half of the autumn term straight after five weeks of cross country running. There's a training build up and both girls and boys row 2,000m. Their times are much the same - and closely reflect times for the 2,500m running course. Records are kept of their progress and are included in end of term reports for parents and Key Stage 3 assessments. Within the timetable in successive years, pupils from years 8 and 9 row 2,000m, times are recorded and again feature in the reports. The same occurs for year 10 and 11 at Key Stage 4, with an eight week fitness module. For sixth formers, Indoor Rowing is on the optional activities timetable.

Out of lessons, pupils are encouraged to keep a log of their rowing activity in their personal school diary. The information from the PM3 Monitor provides measurable data. There are formal, detailed records that reflect the Indoor Rowing operation since the programme began. These statistics help with tracking the growth/progress of individual performance and form/year records, together with percentages. Indoor Rowing improves strength/fitness throughout the year for all our other sports and enhances performance and stamina. The Indoor Rower as an integral element of the PE curriculum and an important way for defining a Healthy School. All pupils enjoy training to improve their personal best performance.

Quotes from pupils

Year 7
"I really feel energised, it's a fun way to get fit and compete with others."

Year 9
"I've been training lots for the Inter House rowing and it really helps my fitness, it was really tiring but rewarding"
"I could feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins"
"I feel really great knowing I did the best I could for my House"
"Rowing is great for team spirit"
"I love rowing, it keeps me fit"

Year 12
"I've found that the Indoor Rowing has given me a good level of fitness, not only for getting through the school day, improving stamina in team sports but following a training programme has given me better discipline for studying."


There are Indoor Rowing Clubs throughout the week at lunch time and after school as part of a comprehensive programme of activities for all pupils. These opportunities give pupils a chance to work on the Indoor Rower in a less formal setting. Older teenage girls train for weight control/toning whilst others can compare their race times with online rankings of youngsters of a similar age. There are pupils who are not successful in other sports who make significant progress with Indoor Rowing through encouragement during the extra-curricular clubs.


Biology: For the last four years in "aerobic activity oxygen uptake" research for the A/S level module (AQA syllabus). During a one hour lesson the subject's pulse rate changes were recorded at regular intervals using a chest telemetry strap, from resting through active state and finally, recovery. The results were then plotted on a graph. Plans are underway for module work using the Indoor Rower with A2 Human Biology (OCR examining Board).

Physics: The Indoor Rower has been used by staff in practical experiments such as power/watts to rating. Also the school's IT technician has been trained by Concept 2 to set up and link computers, cabling and software for the inter-house event.


There are two main events each year: British Indoor Rowing Championships and the School Inter-House Competition. Pupils are also entered in the Concept2 online Indoor Rowing Schools League with great success, work for Distance Awards and are featured in the C2 Rankings. There have also been some inter school rowing fixtures.

BIRC: pupils compete with a cross section of ability and they make their entries on line. Staff have participated since 2000 and pupils started racing there the following year.

Inter-House. The fifth annual AGS Inter-House rowing championships took place in February with more than 290 students and staff competing for each of the school's three houses (Spencer Newport and Wells) in the pastoral system. Twenty-two Indoor Rowers (including fourteen on loan from Concept 2 UK) were linked up in the new Sports Hall. A data projector was used so that rowers could see a visual representation of competitors' speeds and positions, contributing to a captivating and competitive atmosphere. The racing takes place in the pupils' games lessons so there is no disruption to the timetable.

Every student in Years 7, 8 and 9 competed in either an A or B race depending on ability. It's optional to race for pupils to race in Years 10 - 13 but there was a good turn out of dedicated and committed rowers, especially girls from the sixth form. The event culminated in the annual staff 2000m handicap race. This year's honours go to Lisa Kane (Psychology) closely followed by last year's runner-up and 2004 champion Adele Dixon (Geography). It's like a mini BIRC and the atmosphere is amazing, the pupils enjoy seeing their names on the screen and watch their progress through the race. From this year, the races have been brought in line with BIRC times for younger rowers.

Staff indoor rowing

20% of full time staff regularly use the Indoor Rower at lunch times, after school and also at weekends. There are teams that compete in the inter-house event on a handicap basis. One member of staff who competes at the BIRC has been winning medals in the last few years. There is a diversity of staff profiles: working mother, county netball player and over fifties. Recently, some staff leaving the school at the end of their careers have bought Indoor Rowers to use in retirement. There's enthusiasm for indoor rowing in the staff room and evidence of some staff whose health has been greatly improved by regular rowing.

Indoor to on-water rowing

Some older pupils have joined local rowing clubs on the River Avon. Four Year 12 girls together with James Gordon and Phillip Clapham from Year 13 are members of Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club. James has already attended GB Junior Trials and he recorded an Indoor 2K time of 7mins.13sec. as a thirteen year old. There are also some pupils who compete for Evesham Rowing Club. The discipline and routine of training has lead to focus when studying towards examinations. Several sixth form leavers moving to higher education have joined their university rowing clubs

Future plans

Alcester Grammar School:

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