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Why Major Sporting Events make Great School Trips

Major sporting events can offer surprising educational opportunities, insists Cath Plummer – and not just for the PE curriculum...

  • Why Major Sporting Events make Great School Trips

Museums, art galleries, theme parks. Sound familiar? I’m guessing those are the types of school excursion you’re used to organising – but I’m here to remind you that sports trips can be amongst the most inspiring, engaging and stimulating outings you can organise with your students.

During my time as head of girls’ PE, I’ve arranged trips to the Royal Birkdale Open Golf Championships, a Real Madrid Football Tour, and the World Rugby under-20s Championship – to name a few – and I’ll be taking my pupils to the Netball World Cup and Wimbledon next year. Why?

Well, for a start, at a time when the internet, TV and computer games are increasing young people’s amount of sedentary time, it’s incredibly important to start healthy habits early.

Research has shown that inactive children are more likely to be inactive adults, whereas those who are engaged in school sports are fitter and more confident.

Sports trips inspire young people to participate in activity, help them to develop an interest in sport, and for those who are already engaged, they raise aspirations. For example, heading to the Netball World Cup next summer may inspire some of my students to join a local club.

Wider learning

Sports trips also tie in to pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural development as part of the curriculum.

Watching a team from another country in action is a fantastic way to explore another culture, for example, seeing the New Zealand rugby team perform the Haka

Witnessing how players cope with defeat and success, and how they control their emotions also helps pupils develop socially and morally.

My final word on the benefits of sports trips is the positive impact they can have on female pupils.

As head of girls’ PE, this is something I’m passionate about, and with the news from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation earlier this year that only 12% of 14-year-old girls get enough physical activity each week, it’s clear that action is needed.

Seeing a loss of self-confidence among adolescent females and a subsequent lack of interest in PE and sports is a shame, but experiencing a major event can provide them with positive role models.

With the current success of the England women’s rugby, football, hockey and netball teams, it’s perfect timing to tap into this and use it to inspire young girls.

Exciting times

When it comes to organising a sports trip, be sure to work out your objectives and priorities. Before the excursion, plan with your pupils what you are going to get out of it.

If you’re watching a live event, ask your students to observe how the players warm up, and mark each other. Get them to observe the role of officials, too – this can then be used as a key part of a follow-up lesson.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to build up excitement – don’t view the trip in isolation, engage pupils before the event.

For example, before we take our learners to the Netball World Cup this year, we’ll be presenting YouTube clips and player profiles, and hosting an inter-house netball tournament.

You could maximise the benefits of the trip by linking up with local clubs. Just watching a sport event won’t increase participation – you need to build around it and adopt a multi-faceted approach.

There are so many benefits to sports trips, including how pupils really enjoy being with friends and having a team experience. Prior to our World Rugby under-20s trip, one of my pupils had dipped in and out of the sport.

After the event, she decided to go back to her local club and commit to rugby, rekindling her passion – for me, that’s proof enough of the worth of sports trips.

Find out more about school package offerings for the Netball World Cup 2019 at nwc2019.co.uk/schools.

Cath Plummer is head of girls’ PE at Christ the King Catholic High School and Sixth Form Centre in Southport.

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