School Development award 2007/08
Stoke Newington School (Middlesex)
Tom Phillips, Head of Boys P.E. at Stoke Newington School says "I joined Stoke Newington School in June 2005 and found that despite attempts to introduce rugby to the school in the past, there was no rugby either during lessons or after-school. Having attended a rugby playing school as a child, I knew the benefits rugby can have on discipline and values not only on a sporting level, but on a whole school level, and more importantly, the fun that can be had from playing rugby.
We began introducing rugby by entering into the emerging schools tournaments and trying to arrange one night after school each week for anyone interested in rugby. Initially numbers were low, however after perseverance and word of mouth from pupils, the amount of pupils interested in rugby rose. Despite a lack of staff available to take rugby sessions, the PE department were determined to ensure pupils were given the opportunity to play rugby, regardless of the barriers in inner city London such as breaking the norm of ‘football only’ and limited space. I concentrated my efforts on one year group and hoped that others would sit up and take notice if they became a well established squad. This worked well and over two years we now have three squads in the school in years 7, 8 and 10.
In addition to the emerging/new school tournaments there have been fixtures arranged with surrounding schools, involvement on the 'Parlez Vous Rugby' project with the British Council in Paris, a trip to an international tournament in Paris and a planned end of season tour in May. There are a crop of boys and girls now on the rugby ‘gifted and talented register’ and to ensure they can progress we have ‘gifted and talented’ rugby days in which we take pupils off their usual school timetable and run a series of coaching and analysis programmes. It has been commented on that the behaviour and attitude of some previously ‘naughty’ boys has improved both in lessons and around the school. As well as promoting the popularity of rugby, the aim of the PE department was to increase levels of behaviour and promote values which I feel has been achieved. With this success followed the decision to include rugby in core PE lessons in years 7, 8 and 9. This too has been a resounding success with many of the younger players’ initial interest stemming from PE lessons.
In the future my vision for rugby in Stoke Newington School is to have a rugby squad in four of the five year groups by next year and with one current Middlesex U15 player, I would like to see more players breaking the mould for inner city comprehensives and becoming county standard rugby players, in addition to continuing rugby through PE lessons”.