Sport stays strong during lockdown

The Army has a saying: ‘time spent on reconnaissance is seldom or ever wasted’. I believe this has been absolutely true for everything that has been done and achieved at GHS during the war against Covid-19.

From the moment a lockdown was mentioned and seriously thought about, combat planning took place as all departments prepared for a virtual education. For the practical based subjects like PE, operations became increasingly ambitious in its creativity, but in true GHS style, all the staff involved quickly designed and delivered an outstanding education for pupils.

Throwing itself wholeheartedly behind the Government’s effort to prioritise one hour’s worth of physical exercise per day, the PE Department brainstormed how school sport could continue at home, without all the normal lesson equipment and facilities. Inspired by current events, Loo Roll Challenges and self-interpretations of Joe Wick’s Workouts took centre stage, whilst online Zumba sessions led by a willing group of PE staff provided amusement for all involved. Virtual PE lessons extended pupils’ interests to a different level, engaging them in an arena of fun and relaxation. For each pupil, lesson activities took shape with individual flair and adaptation, catered to indoor and outdoor space available in their homes, gardens and local parks, as well as varied and imaginative use of furniture and props that replaced the usual athletics and games equipment. Pupils videoed and posted their work, often casting their helpful pets and siblings in starring roles!

Cricket lessons focused on bowling, batting and throwing techniques, with competitive games carried out in virtual groups (using Teams), including ‘hit sessions’, ‘snakes and ladders’ and ‘alphabet cricket’. Both track and field events were covered in Athletics; all events being taught by video demonstrations. Pupils then performed and recorded their results to contribute towards a virtual inter-house Sports Day at the end of term. Throughout the whole period, the most important message was for them to enjoy taking part and do their best according to their own personal circumstances. Exercise not only changes the body, it changes the mind, attitude and mood, so the only bad workout was the one that did not happen!

In addition to the full programme of lessons, a flank guard of extracurricular competitions was organised online, including a 2.6k challenge (to honour the cancelled London Marathon) and two virtual inter-school Athletics matches; the first against Bradford Grammar School, Perins School, Priestlands School, RGS Guildford and Weydon School and the second against Croydon High, Putney High and Tormead. Whilst the emphasis was emphatically inclusive, encouraging every willing pupil to take part, GHS unsurprisingly excelled in terms of results! The competitive spirit has played a huge part in making GHS what it is today and even the curve ball of an enforced lockdown cannot diminish our enthusiasm and passion for sporting success!

Whilst writing this, we are in a hangfire amidst an unsettled future of unanswered questions about how, if and when normal schooling can or will return. I am sure we will reflect on a revolution that has given rise to many positive outcomes. Whilst battling to provide a continuous and valuable education in every area of academic, pastoral and physical learning, the school can feel exceptionally proud of the way it has victoriously infiltrated and broken its line of resistance.

Mrs Louise Stone