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Schools Case Studies

St Philip's: The Introduction of indoor rowing in a school for children with special educational needs.

Date Added: Thu, 20 Jan 2011

Related tags: Competition, SEN, Community, Event Ideas, Health Benefit

St Philip's is a school for children with moderate learning difficulties (MLD) located in Chessington Surrey. We are a local authority funded school and at the time of writing have 125 students on role. These pupils have in line with similar schools a significant range of needs and performance levels. As part of the school we have a autistic unit and provision for children with severe learning difficulties as well as a 6th form.

As our Pesscl data shows all our students currently take part in at least two hours of quality PE each week. We offer a wide range of sporting activities and are always looking out for new ideas.

Around three years ago I visited a school in Birmingham and saw that in their gym they had two Concept 2 indoor rowing machines. The teacher had said that in their main stream setting the students really enjoyed using the machines and that they were looking forward to developing the programme. I have had an interest in indoor rowing for some time, however never really appreciated how the machines might be used in schools. I contacted Concept 2 in Nottingham and learnt of the impact that an initiative that they had set up was having in schools across the city. At the time it was suggested that I contacted the Sir Steve Redgrave foundation who were providing indoor rowing machines in schools. Unfortunately at the time they were targeting other areas in the country and the London region was not being funded. It was at this point I started to think about other sources of funding I might approach. Having successfully applied for an, Awards for All grant in the past it seemed a good idea to approach them once again. After completing the application form several months later we found out that we had been successful. Shortly afterwards we received a cheque for five thousand pounds and placed the order with Concept 2. At around the same time I went on a training day in Nottingham to learn about the teaching programme which had been written to support the lessons.

Included in the day was the opportunity to learn how to set up the venue racing software. Simply this involves connecting the machines up to a single computer which in turn projects the software up on a screen using a projector. Each rower is represented on the screen by a small yellow boat which allows several people to race against each other. (See diagram). At around the same time Concept2 visited St Philip's and set up a taster day. I was completely taken with the day and realized the potential that indoor rowing had in a special school. Two years on we now have six rowers in school which are used on a regular basis. We use them as part of the schools curriculum PE sessions but have used them in a number of different ways. They have used them as part of our school sports days where groups move around the school taking part in arrange of activities. In addition we have used them as part of the healthy living days. We have used the row pro software and the students have worn the heart rate monitor belts to see the effects exercise has on your heart.

Perhaps the most useful exercise we have made of the rowers is to inform parents on the pupils annual review reports. Each pupil takes part in a 40 second rowing test. The results of the test are then recorded onto a database. We now have a detailed record of every pupil at the school which for some students shows their progress over the last three years. The feedback from parents has been very positive.

As part of our role in the local community we have invited a range of groups into the school to use the rowers. These have included, local primary schools (from our sports partnership cluster), Police Cadets and Church Youth Groups. The feedback from all the groups has been very positive and all are hoping to return soon.

I have been genuinely amazed at the way our students have taken to the indoor rowers. There has clearly been an improvement in their concentration levels and performance in lessons. With the exception of a handful over the last three years all the students have had a go using them and all seem to enjoy this way of exercising. We hope that our school stands as a good example to others and we are keen to spread the word.

Neil Mears (PE Co-ordinator) - St Philip's School

The impact of the specialism on raising achievement has been huge. Through the specialism we have been able to provide a more personalized curriculum and greater out of hours opportunities, meeting the demands of our learners. We have also been able to upgrade our facilities providing a first class learning environment for our students. The above developments have resulted in whole school attainment rising from 46% 5A* -C to 79%.

Students are well motivated and fully engaged in their learning. The specialism uses an accelerated learning programme as we believe in a stage not age curriculum. Some of our students complete GCSE PE in yr 9 some in yr 10 and others yr 11. Some complete AS PE in yr11. Our Key stage 3 curriculum has been used by youth sport trust as an example of best practice. We offer vocational learning pathways from 14 -19 and have seen a significant rise i the number of students continuing through to the sixth form and then university.

Kingston Sports Partnership and St Philip's School

Wednesday 29th November 2006 saw the running of a new event to the Kingston Sports Partnership and St Philip's School. Using the brand new Concept2 model D's the students were given the opportunity to try out these amazing machines. Thanks to Concept2 and their event organiser Simon Larkin the event went extremely well with lots of fun being had by all. After a brief familiarisation, the students were given the chance to race each other through a very clever computer system. Each of the machines was represented up on a huge screen by the outline of a small rowing boat. The students were then measured over a set time and whoever's boat got the furthest distance won the race. You can see by the expression on some of the pupil's faces how well the event went. We would like to say a massive thanks to Simon Larkin and Tom Kay from Concept2 for helping us to run the event. In addition the students were given the opportunity to play the Fish Game which is a clever little game that comes as standard on the new models. The event gave students who would not normally get involved in sport the opportunity to have a go.

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