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The week kicks off with World Sports Day on 25 June. Coordinated by the Youth Sports Trust, this will be a celebration of all the work schools have been doing related to sports and the Olympic and Paralympic values.
Through Get Set Goes Global, schools are also being encouraged to support different national teams, and an online map provides information about all the countries competing. Some are backing nations represented in the school community, while others are forging links with countries whose sports stars will be based at pre- Games training camps in their area.
At least 170 schools in England will receive a grant of up to £8,800 through the Plan Your 2012 programme, funded by the Department for Education. But such grants will do little to compensate for the Government’s recent £162m cut in funding for school sports. “It’s a paradox,” says David Cheshire of West Lea School (see panel). “On the one hand students are seeing this tremendous celebration of sport and huge excitement around the Games. On the other they’re seeing their sports funding cut, with an enormous impact on facilities and the curriculum.”
Carpenters Primary School
Carpenters Primary in Newham is the school closest to the Olympic site. It has developed fruitful links with many of the organisations responsible for delivering the Games, and pupils have met everyone from the Queen to Kelly Holmes.
Thanks to partnerships with companies building the athletes’ villages, the school boasts a greenhouse and Olympic garden of fruit and vegetables. A visit to the site to learn about its archeology, history and design led to a pupil-led careers day.
For the last three years all pupils have spent half a term on cross-curricular work on the Olympics, with projects on Ancient Greece, and local people’s recollections of the 1948 London Games.
Classes visit the Olympic site viewing point; years 5 and 6 watched the gymnastics test event. “Though we’ll get tickets through Get Set, there won’t be enough for everyone and we want as many pupils as possible to see some live sport,” Lisa explains. “I believe the games will leave a powerful legacy. The children already have higher aspirations about what they, the school and the local community can achieve.”
The Urswick School
There’s an international focus to Olympics preparations at The Urswick School, a specialist sports college in Hackney. Through the London 2012 International Inspiration initiative, the school has been partnered with one in Tanzania in a three-year project funded by the British Council.
In art, younger pupils have been developing mascot designs, while BTec students worked with an artist on sculpture and art for public spaces. And in ‘learning skills’, years 7 and 8 have been investigating local residents’ views on the Games.
Assistant Head Louisa Seymour is trying to make sure the Games have the biggest possible impact. “Lots of departments are using the Get Set resources. Some of the assembly ideas are good too.”
West Lea School
West Lea School, Enfield, is a four to 19 specialist sports college for pupils with multiple and complex special needs. Last year the school’s classes were renamed after famous Paralympians.
David Cheshire (whose KS4 class is named after cyclist Darren Kenny) explains that the school is focusing on “mobility in all its forms” as well as “promoting inclusion and challenging preconceptions, particularly through outreach work”.
Pupils have been looking at the different nationalities represented at the Olympics, exploring countries and cultures through songs, stories and sporting heroes. The school hosted its own Paralympic games last June, and in May eight students travelled to Cyprus for a special needs athletics meeting.
West Lea pupils will be in the torch-bearing procession and staff hope to take every student to watch a Paralympic event.