- All Schools case study at Titus Salt in West Yorkshire
- Sixth form students take the lead by introducing rugby to younger pupils
Despite being in its embryonic stages at the school, rugby is having a palpable impact across the length and breadth of Titus Salt in West Yorkshire, with the students in the driving seat.
Some 1,500 schools play competitive rugby in England and the RFU’s All Schools programme has ambitious plans to establish the sport as a self-sufficient entity in 750 more secondary state schools by the time of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
A key tenet of the scheme is flexibility around how to make the best use of RFU funding and on-the-ground expertise, with the school able to determine how rugby can best meet their curricular and extra-curricular priorities.
At the picturesque comprehensive school in Baildon, Shipley, the emphasis has been on establishing rugby by empowering a number of young leaders, sixth form students who can introduce new players to the game and therein stand as an example to the rest of the school.
Nat Kerry leads on All Schools at Titus Salt and explained how he has made the most of rugby to suit the school’s specific requirements.
Photo: RFU Archive
The PE teacher said: “When we were introduced to it the RFU said ‘what do you want from it’ and I explained that obviously I’d like to promote rugby through all years but I’d definitely like to work with the young leaders because I’m in charge of the BTEC and I knew they would link well together.
“If the RFU could help us with that part of the course it would be fantastic and as you can see, the young leaders are working with small groups today. They’re role models for the younger kids coming up and it will snowball from there.”
That ambition was music to the ears of local RFU Community Rugby Coach Dave Duxbury, who places sustainability at the top of the agenda in any school he works with for All Schools, given that his focus will eventually move to another school in the area.
Duxbury has coached every pupil in years seven and eight, but is most proud of how he can stand back and watch people new to rugby impart their own enthusiasm to younger children.
“There are footballers, one martial artist and two lads who are not particularly sporty at all and they’ve bought into it,” he said.
“They’ve got kids active, smiling and laughing. We’ve got year 12 and year 13 students involved so when the 13s go out to their next education, hopefully they’ll look to do some work in rugby and the 12s will roll into next year.
“They’re running and heading up the local tag cluster finals in the Tag to Twickenham programme, basically they’ve taken it off my hands. There are sixth formers running a competition for the RFU, happy days.”
Photo: RFU Archive
With All Schools only up and running at Titus Salt this academic year, that in itself is a remarkable achievement. One of the aforementioned sixth formers, Jake Shepherd, aims to work in education in the future and credits involvement in the scheme with improving his communication skills – crucial in effective and efficient teaching.
Jake, one of the footballers to whom Duxbury was referring, said: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity. It’s given me a lot of confidence and there are lots of things I can work on for the future in teaching. I’ve done work experience in schools before but this has massively helped me to communicate with the kids and say the right things.”
Not being directly involved in the initiative in his school, Head Teacher Ian Morrel is able to give a perspective from the outside looking in, and he believes rugby has had a tangible effect.
Emphasising the influence engaged and enthused sixth form students can have on younger pupils, he said: “What this programme does is inspire students to think I can do this, I can work with younger students and see the benefits.
“Quite often we lose sight of the fact that self-discipline and getting on to a sports field can transform students and the barriers to learning in some classroom situations. You hear of some students that have been out on a rugby pitch and they suddenly become different and it’s to do with the core values of the game.
“Being part of a team overspills into the classroom and they can understand that self-discipline and choice will help them to achieve even further. That’s part of why we wanted to be involved.”