Head of School Helena Miller is proud of how St Wilfrid’s pupils have embraced activities that foster health, responsibility and respect.
Olivia, from Year 6, is explaining what she loves best about being the head of St Wilfrid’s CE Primary School’s Sports Council. “I love sport myself,” she says, “especially cricket, running, basketball and netball. But I was asked to do this role by Miss Bartlett after I’d suggested that anyone who looks left out in the playground should be asked to be involved in a game. It’s so important that everyone is happy and likes coming to school. It’s a nice feeling when you know you’ve made someone’s day better.”
Olivia’s wonderful words sum up the spirit and attitude of the children at St Wilfrid’s CE Primary towards not just sport but every part of their learning journey at school. Thanks to the hard work of staff and children, St Wilfrid’s were delighted to achieve the School Games Silver Mark Award recently, a government-led scheme facilitated by the Youth Sport Trust to reward schools for their commitment to the development of competition across their school and into the community.
“Of course it’s about getting children active,” says St Wilfrid’s Head of Sport Jenna Bartlett. “But what’s so encouraging about Olivia’s attitude is that the Sports Council are sharing ideas, coming to us to ask for more equipment and organising games themselves. We’re really proud of the leadership and teamwork skills that are being developed through sport here – and we celebrate that they’ve taken part in competitions with other schools inside and outside the Trust too. They love representing the school, and perhaps being involved in activities they would never have had the chance to experience.”
Miss Bartlett smiles as she remembers how children talked about a Swim Safe open water session at Salford Quays for “weeks on end”. “They can also play football, athletics, swimming, dodgeball, hockey, cross country, tennis, fencing, samba dancing, street dance,” she says. “There are so many different experiences for them to try – and what really makes it so rewarding for me is seeing the children growing in both confidence and emotional wellbeing as they play sport.”
All of which feeds into another award which St Wilfrid’s CE Primary received recently: a Bronze in Unicef’s Rights Respecting programme where children learn through human rights and about human rights. As Rights Respecting Lead, Lauren Smith, explains, one of the articles is the “right to remain healthy.”
“It’s been such a valuable process for our children,” she says. “Rights crop up in practically every lesson – when we did Harvest Festival work, we could talk about children in other countries not being able to enjoy the same food as we do. When we moved onto World War II, we could explore the right to be safe from war, and reflect on children who weren’t so lucky to have that right. It’s about understanding the rest of the world, not just this school.”
What has been so impressive, says Miss Smith, is that the children have taken the Rights Respecting concept much further than simply learning what the articles are. It’s become part of the way they behave.
“Recently, they got together to challenge the kitchen staff about putting all the waste in the same bin. And I think because of the Rights Respecting ethos, they knew the right language and methods to get their voice heard; they felt they had a right to a clean and healthy environment. Which is fair enough – I think Rights Respecting makes us all a bit more aware as a school.”
As Imogen from Year 6 says: “it’s made a huge difference to the way the school feels. We now have our own class charters and I really think we all respect each other a lot more because we know our rights and how our behaviour and attitude affects other people’s rights.”
In this atmosphere of collective responsibility, it’s no surprise, then, that St Wilfrid’s CE Primary also received its first Inclusion Quality Mark Award in November, a scheme which recognises a school in which the teaching and learning, achievements, attitudes and well-being of every young person matter.
“It’s about making sure all children are happy and considerate, and if they’ve chosen the wrong step what we do to support them to get back on the right path,” says Head of School Helena Miller. “Through the School Games Silver Mark, Rights Respecting award and the Inclusion Quality Mark, we’re creating a culture where children feel a part of a community, able to openly reflect and express anything they want to and develop real responsibility for their actions.
“Our children have become more compassionate, more spiritually engaged and generally better global citizens through these initiatives, which all key into the cherished Christian values of Belonging, Believing, Becoming, which is central to everything we do. It’s wonderful to see children at St Wilfrid’s genuinely flourishing because of their incredible attitude towards school.”