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Schools Case Studies

Wellfield Community School Rowing Project

Date Added: Thu, 20 Jan 2011

Related tags: Competition, Extra-curricular, Funding Ideas, Project Setup

Harry Blackwood, Extended School Manager

One of the key parts of my job (definitely the most rewarding part) is giving young people opportunities to experience things and do things that they probably would never get a chance to do.

Wellfield Community School in Wingate, Durham is situated in one of the most deprived areas of England but that doesn't mean that our youngsters should enjoy and achieve in the same way that others do.

The Wellfield Rowing Project came about when we held an Easter Holiday Sports Camp at the school. On the final afternoon we had various challenges for the kids to take part in. One was a rowing challenge.

I had borrowed two tatty and badly maintained Model C machines and the machines were set up for a one minute challenge with the leading distances recorded on a board. Many of the younger's queued up to have two or three goes at the challenge. Who said kids weren't competitive?

Although I'd had an idea that a rowing project would be popular, this proved that the pupils would be keen to test themselves against the machine.

The next step was finding funding. Although I have an Extended School budget to work with I was reluctant to use this money for the project. As a rower myself, I was concerned that the perception would be that I was using school money to pay for one of my own interests. A little indulgence if you like. Although the head teacher was extremely supportive and the Extended School Steering Group gave me the go ahead to buy the machines from my budget I was still determined to get money from outside.

I put together a funding application to the Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund. These funds are administered by the local council and are available all over the country. The bid was submitted by me on behalf of the young people and the beauty of this particular funding source is that young people sit on the panel that makes decisions on which applications are approved.

The forms were relatively straightforward and took less than an hour to complete. Within a month or so I received a letter confirming my bid had been successful together with a cheque for £6,520 to buy eight machine. I was also told that my application for funding for coaching and running the project would be discussed the following month. A month later I received a cheque for £5,250.

As well as the YOF/YCF funding I also received £1,000 from the local council's sports development manager and £300 from a local cricket club who'd been given a grant that had to be spent on educational purposes. They felt our project was worthy of supporting. I have also been promised financial help from the local Primary Care Trust although that has not yet materialised.

Although this cash has helped us buy the machines and will enable us to run the project for at least two years I am delighted that we have enlisted help and support from the Amateur Rowing Association. The ARA's Regional Development Officer Rob Cree has been involved from the very early stages and the ARA were used as partners on the bid forms. Rob's enthusiasm, help and cheerful attitude has been invaluable. Rob has also promised that he will provide coaching help and will be working to ensure our better youngsters move from rowing machines to on-water rowing at nearby Durham.

So we're all ready to go. First plan is for me to take part in the Concept2 instructor course. We have also been promised help by Tom Kay from C2 and Eddie Fletcher from Fletcher Sports Science who will be visiting the school to launch the project and provide training and advice for PE staff and sports coaches.

And to prove that rowing is great fun we are having a staff and pupil one minute challenge with a rather unusual objective: the proceeds from the 50p a go challenge will be used to buy a cow for a village in Ethiopia.

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