Sports Day is a highlight of the school calendar. It is a time for celebration, of competition and of bringing the whole school together in something other than the pursuit of academic success. If done well it can build a sense of belonging and place within the school, aspire students to take up athletics or become more serious about it and to have older students encourage and motivate younger students which can break down potential barriers. It brings parents and teachers together in a positive and supportive manner. It can build a sense of community and spirit.
My approach to Sports Day at school is a traditional one. It requires pupils to compete against each other, in the proper events, under proper rules (including disqualification), with the rest of the school spectating and supporting. So on one May afternoon the whole school decamps to the local athletics stadium for some competitive running, jumping and throwing.
Each House needs to organise 5 teams. Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11, 12 and 13 combined.
|Year 7 Events:||75m, 75m Hurdles, 150m, 800m, Long Jump, High Jump, Javelin, Shot and Relay|
|Year 8 Events:||100m, 80m Hurdles, 200m, 300m, 800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, Triple Jump, Shot, Javelin and Relay|
|Year 9 Events:||100m, 100m Hurdles, 200m, 300m, 800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, Triple Jump, Shot, Javelin and Relay|
|Year 10 Events:||100m, 100m Hurdles, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, Triple Jump, Shot, Javelin and Relay|
|Senior Events:(Year 11, 12 and 13 Combined)||100m, 110m Hurdles, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, Triple Jump, Shot, Javelin, Discus and Relay A and Relay B|
Once the teams have been selected the 6th Form type them up on Google Docs. This allows them to be updated to the last moment, which helps the admin staff with registration and which pupils will be spectating or competing. It also allows me to manipulate the information very easily, allowing track lists, field lists and competitor lists to be put together and shared with all staff and 6th Form who are running teams and events. It also means I can easily produce results sheets that are easy to fill in, and keep for future use, especially if we want to put students forward for district or county trials later in the term.
Every House needs to ensure they have two competitors in each event. Each competitor can either do one track event and a relay or one field event and a relay. Before we allowed as a maximum 1 track, 1 field and 1 relay per pupil. The decision to change it was made to increase the numbers of pupils that participate in the event and it has been successful this year. It also stops students who are competing in both a track or field event missing one if they are scheduled at the same time.
The 4 members of my department including myself are affiliated with a House and we support the Head of House and the House Tutors in team selection. The House prefects (Year 12 and Year 13) are responsible for running House Athletics practices at lunchtimes and after school (under the supervision of the PE Department) in the build up to Sports Day. This is used both as preparation and team selection.
The Running Order
A running order is produced and shared with parents, staff, pupils via the school website and the athletics stadium we are fortunate enough to use. It is important to have this timed and planned out in advance to ensure that the event is finished promptly. Two duties that I think are essential are the Track Supervisor and the Field Supervisor. Their job is to ensure students are at their events promptly and that the events start on time. They are in constant communication with the announcer and the team manager.
The weights for throws we use are:
|Year 7 and 8||Year 9 and 10||Year 11, 12 and 13|
I know the above doesn’t quite fit to the recommendations from the ESAA, but this is what works in our context and we make sure that pupils are above all safe and happy when performing the events. It also ensures consistency and the Senior pupils in Year 11, 12 and 13 are very keen to break the records. All areas are set-up in advance by the PE staff and the stadium staff. Clear instructions about weights and rules have been given to the staff running duties in advance and the PE Department offer an INSET before Sports Day for anyone that is worried about running an event.
Points – A very simple system. There are always 8 competitors in any event. 8 for a win, 7 for second, 6 for third and so on. This is doubled for the relays. We have individual Year group winners and this is totalled to find the overall winner for sports day. The points accrued from this event goes to our overall House Competition. Sports Day is usually the final event of the Year to allow all students to know who has won the House Competition before Year 11 and 13 go on study leave.
All staff have duties on the day. I email well in advance of the competition asking for help from colleagues, then put a duties and timings list together for all staff, including supervision duties. Thankfully my colleagues are very happy to help. If they are not running events, recording results or on the tannoy as the announcer and commentator (thank you Head of English for your dry wit) then they are with the SLT and Heads of House in the stands and around the sports complex monitoring behaviour and modelling appropriate support. Senior pupils who are not involved in competition in events also help with the supervision and act as Team Managers for the younger years, helping the PE Department ensure that the competitors turn up to the right event at the right time. I also have a ‘media crew’ from the 6th Form who do live interviews with the competitors, take photos and live tweet the results on the PE Department Twitter feed.
Top three in every event are awarded a medal (kindly donated by ex students), on the podium in front of the stand, where the spectators are. Either the Head Teacher, myself as Director of Sport or a guest we invite takes this responsibility of awarding and it adds to the overall flavour of the event, especially as the spectators are very generous with their applause.
We have over of the third of a school compete which is very pleasing from a participation point of view. Inclusivity for our House Competition is not done via single events, but by the amount of events we offer students over the course of the year (currently 20 per year group, including non-sporting events such as bridge, debating, music, singing and general knowledge). Its a perfect way to finish the Year 11 and Year 13s time at the school, especially those students who have dedicated a lot of time and effort to the House.
Some traditions are important. They are traditions because they contain the best knowledge we have gained and the best we have done in the past. However I am not so set in my ways that I blindly follow tradition, especially in what we provide for students and the experiences we create for them. Perhaps it would be best to think of tradition as dynamic tradition. Something that has been done before, with regularity, that is kept being done because it is good and successful, but always looking to improve by adding, subtracting or refining ideas. I would welcome any feedback to my approach to Sports Day or for you to share your own Sports Day approaches with me.
- Track and Field Ramblings from Doug Gleddie and Mel Hamada
- Major lessons learned from our Athletics Unit from Andy Vasily
- Student Leadership and Sports Day from Mel Hamada and a follow up piece Sports Day Done
- Secondary Sports Day – An unnecessary requirement? from Pair up in Threes
- Track & Field – Stratford Hall-Style from Rebecca Contant
- Secret to House Athletics from Andy Hair
- Sports Day has become ultra-competitive, but not among the kids from the Telegraph
- How to teach … sports day from the Guardian
- Are inclusive sports days possible? from Gareth Morewood