Why do we need to promote sport in our schools?
The halcyon days of football teams being taken by the Geography teacher, netball by the Science teacher and staff versus pupils at the end of the year are long gone in some settings. What if participation in sports improved engagement and attainment? Would this push extra-curricular further up the agenda?
Sports participation in schools is down. This is due in part to the plethora of academic interventions taking place after school and partly due to the busy life of the teacher. But schools as a whole need to realise the importance of extracurricular sport. The word extracurricular is a combination of the prefix extra, which translates to ‘on the outside’ and curriculum which translates to ‘a running course/career’ therefore making it a continued learning experience that schools and students would fully support and acknowledge.
I spoke to an expert on this Mr Liam Webb to find out the evidence. Liam is a Physical Education, Integrated Pathway and Cover Teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy based in Blackpool, Lancashire. Here are seven key reasons why extracurricular sport must have more precedence in day to day school life.
1. Enhanced academic attainment
Extracurricular sport can help students develop their focus, psychological stamina and an ability to deal with a variety of situations. These are are all clearly traits required for academic exams. Students who complete forty minutes of extracurricular sport a day are more inclined to have higher levels of academic improvements than those who do irregular or no extracurricular sport a day (Salkid et al 2008).
2. Seek out new talents
Extracurricular sport is a fantastic opportunity to teach students to go beyond their comfort zone and to explore hidden talents they didn’t know they possessed. If students engage with a wider range of extracurricular sport they are more likely to develop in confidence and overall satisfaction with themselves.
3. Uplifted self-esteem
When we achieve success our self-esteem gets a boost. If during extracurricular activities we can create a relaxed environment where learning new skills is fun and with some elements of competition, we promote success and self-esteem without pressure from assessment.
4. Social freedom
With each new extracurricular activity attended, the more students will socialise with their peers outside of the classroom setting. This allows them to create new relationships with a wider range of peers (Allen et al 2018). These social situations give students the chance to develop key social skills such as teamwork, listening and leadership.
5. Constructive academic breaks
Extracurricular sport offers students a chance to break away from everyday school life so they can recharge their batteries and top-up their motivation for when they return to studying (Bryant et al 2015). Giving the students the chance to ‘switch off’ their academic thoughts can be the relaxing break they need, and as we know, what better break is there for the body than exercise?
6. Fundamental life experiences
Extracurricular sport promotes vast amounts of essential life skills required by students. Within a controlled and relaxed environment, students can develop skills such as goal setting, teamwork, time management, prioritisation, problem-solving, analytical thinking, leadership and public speaking.
7. Teacher & student relationships
I firmly believe relationships with students are enhanced when outside of the classroom. Extracurricular sport is one of the greatest chances to build relationships and show students you are both human and caring.
We must come together as a community and encourage whole schools to promote an inclusive and embracing programme of extracurricular sport. Let’s reduce the after-school interventions problem which is partially, our own making…
You can follow Liam Webb on Twitter.