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Manchester High School for Girls

Leading Active Lifestyles

Sarah Newman, Director of Sport, shares her thoughts on why active lifestyles need to be actively encouraged by parents and teachers. 

Sport England’s most recent Active Lives survey reported that 53.2% of children and young people are failing to meet the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines. Worryingly, 29% of children take part in less than 30 minutes a day of sport or physical activity. Whilst these numbers are moving in the right direction year-on-year, there’s more to be done to ensure that young people reach the recommended levels. But how do we do this?

At Manchester High, pupils start having dance lessons from the day they join us. As well as raising the heart rate, dancing improves coordination, agility, flexibility, balance and spatial awareness – all of which are vital to children’s development. Dancing also increases confidence, self-esteem and can help to develop social skills. In short, it empowers them; the founding ethos of Manchester High! Dance also has the benefit of being a performance medium, so pupils can showcase their achievements to family and friends. This is best exemplified at the end of our annual Dance Show, where the joy and pride on pupils’ faces speaks volumes.

As an avid hockey player myself, I believe playing team sport is a great way to get active because it’s so fun! Even at a non-competitive level, children become part of something bigger than themselves which is so important to their personal growth. It also helps to develop communication and problem-solving skills; attributes that transcend the sports field.

Any PE teacher will tell you that balancing competitiveness and elite performance with inclusivity can be difficult, but at Manchester High any girl wanting to play a particular sport can do so through our clubs and societies. This ensures nobody is excluded from participation because of circumstances beyond their control.

We want to make physical education a positive experience for all our pupils so their time with us acts as a catalyst for a lifetime of health and wellbeing. I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say this is what inspires us to get out of bed in the morning. Whether it’s seeing a Reception pupil catch a ball for the first time, celebrating one of our teams win a competition or witnessing the camaraderie and team spirit on show at our annual Sports Day, we know we’re helping our pupils much more than they will ever realise whilst they’re still with at school with us.