Today marked the start of the summer season with our annual Inter-House athletics event. I love it; it’s one of my favourite events of the year. For me, it has so much of what school sports are about.
It involves the Key Stage 2 children being spilt into phases, so we hold a Y3/4 event and another for Y5/6. The children are split into their houses and compete against each other in a series of races. Some are solo events, some are team relays. Some are traditional races, such as the sack race and egg and spoon relay, others, like the carrot-between-the-knees race and the leapfrog relay, are less traditional. There are a few straight forward running races for those who like to sprint, but most of them are just good fun.
The children choose their events themselves, which involves an hour or so of chaos while they work out democratic ways to decide who does which races. Sometimes, democracy reigns, at other times, it comes down to who shouts the loudest. However they get there, the teams usually seem to get themselves sorted. It’s a great lesson in compromise.
When we get to the races, the children take them seriously enough to want to win (they earn points for their house which are then added up at the end), but not so seriously that they end up falling out over their successes- or lack of. The atmosphere during the athletics is brilliant. Because of the nature of the races, athletic prowess is not necessary in order to do well. Sometimes, we find that those children who are less keen on PE often do well, as they are more cautious in their approach. They are all incredibly supportive of each other; they cheer each other along and commiserate each other if their house hasn’t been successful. The Year 6 Sports Captains help their houses by making sure they are organised: they send the children to their races, keep track of the scores and ensure their teams are behaving appropriately.
What I also like about the athletics is the camaraderie. Today, we had all of the junior TAs, students and Lower Junior staff on the field; it was lovely to have so many adults. Because there were so many of us taking part, the children knew that they would have to behave themselves (which they did!), and so we could all enjoy ourselves as much as the children. We aren’t a particularly big school but there are so many people who I just don’t get to speak to on a day-to-day basis. Many of whom, I have worked with before, but we just get caged in our own year groups. So it was lovely to have the opportunity to work with them all again today, albeit in a slightly chaotic (but organised!) way. We work well together as a big team – we all knew what needed to be done, we all had our jobs to do but mucked in whenever it was needed. I have to say, we were pretty slick today! Perhaps too slick – there were a fair few messages of encouragement on the microphone to pad the morning out (I was a bit nervous about being MC to begin with, but by the end, people were probably desperate to wrench the mic away from me!!!), but the morning went really well.
Of course, the other big bonus was having the parents in school. I’ve written before about wanting to encourage the parents to come in more, and we had many in this morning. Of course, some beat a hasty retreat as we approached the parents’ three legged race, but many joined in. As ever, the parents were more competitive than the children! But while the children were racing, there was a fantastic atmosphere amongst the parents as well as the teams: competitive but encouraging.
We hold other sporting events in school: the Cross Country event in the spring is an opportunity for those with athletic skills to do well, the whole school sports day is a chance for children of all ages to work together. But for me, today’s event really teaches the children so much about what being a good sport is all about.