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Every Great School

17th October 2017

More than 70 leaders from primary and secondary schools across Cambridgeshire including Melbourn Assistant Principal John Barnes attended an event at Comberton Village College to consider the purpose of education and the importance of physical activity in schools in developing well-rounded young people who are physically and emotionally well.

As members of the Youth Sport Trust Headteacher Alliance, the event, called Every Great School, was hosted by Stephen Munday, Chief Executive of The Cam Academy Trust and Lesley Birch, Executive Principal of Cambridge Primary Education Trust.

Mr Munday said: “We were delighted to be able to host this event. It was on a topic that really matters a lot: what is great education and why does PE and sport matter so much in that?

“We had two of the top speakers in the country giving keynote addresses together with some great workshops put on by local practitioners.

“The overall message was very clear. We need top quality PE and Sport in all of our schools for all of our pupils. There are many great local examples of how this is happening really well and making a major positive difference to the lives of young people.”

Supported by the South Cambs School Sports Partnership, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough County Sports Partnership (Living Sport), The Youth Sport Trust and Cambridgeshire County Council, the event sought to make schools reflect on the type of young people we are trying to develop, how schools might do that and the crucial role that physical education can play.

Delegates heard from two high profile keynote speakers, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and Alison Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust.

Geoff Barton was elected General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders in February 2017 and represents around 19,000 leaders of state and independent schools/colleges across the UK. Before this, for 15 years Geoff was head at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, a comprehensive school of 1650 students aged 11-18.


Ali Oliver is the Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust, an independent charity devoted to changing young people’s lives through sport. Ali was previously Deputy Director of Sport at the University of Bath and Director of Netball, having started her career as a PE teacher.


Geoff got participants thinking about what education is really for and the kind of young people we are trying to develop in our schools and got the message across that education has to be about more than just results and exam grades but developing well rounded young people with the necessary life skills to ensure they are happy, healthy and successful in school and their futures. Throughout he gave examples from his time as a headteacher of how high quality physical education and sport can play a crucial role in this and how he sees PE as an essential ingredient in a schools success. He went on to urge other headteachers in the room to be strong in their leadership and back what they believed in.

Ali then spoke to delegates about the value of physical education and physical activity and the impact it can have on young people’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing and ultimately the attainment and achievement of pupils and schools.

Ali urged atendees to understand that PE isn’t just about teaching people sport skills and how to play sport, it’s about helping them to develop life skills such as resilience, empathy and teamwork, which, in turn, improve children’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Ali then went on to ask schools to consider if PE in their schools was fit for purpose or did it perhaps need repositioning a bit to make it more relevant.

Participants at the event attended workshops on active classrooms, the daily mile, the relationship between mental health and physical health, active form times and the wellbeing of the whole child.

One head said: “The guest speakers were really inspirational, it was a thought provoking morning with some great workshops.”

The morning concluded with a call for schools to pledge what they were going to do following the event to make a difference and increase the physical activity levels of their pupils, to help improve their overall health, well-being and attainment. 

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