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Schools Case Studies

Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT

Date Added: Thu, 26 Mar 2009

Related tags: Competition, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 2, Extra-curricular, Cross-curricular, Intra-school, Inter-school, Pct, Funding Ideas, ICT Links, Success Story, Birmingham

In 2006 the Heart of Birmingham teaching PCT funded an indoor rowing project into the 117 primary and secondary schools within their catchment area utilising funding from the Choosing Health initiative. The purpose was to introduce a new and exciting physical activity, improve pupils? fitness, and to encourage children and their parents to participate in sport and lifelong physical activity.

The indoor rowing project included supply of 6 indoor rowing machines to each secondary school and 3 to each primary. Teacher training covering safe indoor rowing technique, lesson and class activity ideas and ICT opportunities was included at the outset with follow on training planned for the future.

Teachers found that training and teaching resources were vital in helping them use indoor rowing throughout the curriculum as a catalyst to generate a shared sense of purpose, better team working and interaction between age groups and to promote a positive body image among girls. Concept2 resources enabled pupils, especially girls, to become more aware of nutritional issues.

The School Sport Partnership infrastructure was used as the primary delivery mechanism and this has continued throughout the project to date with the Competition Managers also now taking on a leading role in the programme including the running of the annual Birmingham Schools Indoor Rowing Championships. Due to the project?s success, Birmingham City Council took the decision to expand the scheme to all secondary and special schools in the city: proof of the power of partnership.


Along with improvements in physical activity rates and pupil confidence, staff have found that the indoor rowing programme has helped to improve engagement from non-sporty and disaffected pupils. Everyone involved is pleased that by engaging pupils who were previously not physically active or taking part in school PE, the programme has to date made significant inroads towards the original project goals.

Furthermore, teachers have reported that the programme has raised the status of PE within schools and has helped to support delivery of the Government?s high quality PE and school sport agenda.
So much for the teachers and schools ? what about the pupils?


About two thirds of primary pupils have used the rowing machines at their school. Most of those children say they like rowing because it is fun and makes them feel fitter. Extra-curricular use as part of a multi-sport offer is the most common way that indoor rowing is integrated in the primary schools, and more often now, the machines are being used in other lessons such as science.


Similar findings are apparent among secondary pupils.

Particularly interesting is that about a third of girls feel that rowing is more fun than other sports and offers them the chance to be active with their friends. The impact on health and fitness and perceived improvements in muscle tone and weight loss seem to be important reasons for taking part.

Among the boys, the competitive elements of indoor rowing are especially popular; such as challenging themselves to beat previous times and competing in the online indoor rowing league.

Overall the PCT has found the rowers to be a very inclusive form of activity, and a great tool for offering children who can be harder to engage in sport an alternative to traditional PE activities. We have also been able to expand the initiative with an add on project called Row Before You Go in association with the Birmingham Schools Rowing Association, which opens up the rowers to children during lunchtime, before and after school, and aims to engage parents and staff in learning how to use the rowers more effectively.

We feel that the rowing machines are a great investment given the lifespan of the equipment, the number of children who can access them through schools and the possibilities of working with the community and families.

More detail is available within the report 'Evaluation of the use of Concept2 Rowing Ergometers in Schools' by Hayley Musson, Dr John G. Morris and Dr. Mary E. Nevill of the Institute of Youth Sport School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough University which describes the findings of an evaluation, undertaken between April 2007 and March 2008 by the Institute of Youth Sport (IYS) (Loughborough University), which investigated the use of Concept2 rowing ergometers in primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom.
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