Thursday, March 28, 2013

Schools at Heart of Active Nation, by Professor Laura McAllister

In her latest blog, as the Sport Wales School Sport Survey goes live,Professor Laura McAllister talks about how schools in Wales form such a vital part of our sporting future.

The 2013 School Sport Survey went live yesterday and we are eagerly anticipating an even greater response than that seen in 2011.

A record number of responses were gained in 2011, with the details of 40,000 youngsters captured, making it the largest ever survey of school pupils in Wales.

At the time, this was extremely encouraging.  Local authorities and schools were able to use the data to insight developments and changes, from which we have since seen improved opportunities for youngsters to lead more active and healthy lifestyles.

This said, there were however, also many local authorities and schools who did not achieve the sufficient response rates to gain appropriate data from the survey.

In these cases, it is a fair question for us to ask: how does an organisation plan to grow, resource and invest successfully without a detailed picture of what the sporting landscape looks like for young people as a starting point?

It is for this reason, that this year we must raise the response rate and ensure that every child stands to benefit from the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from this survey.  If we do this, we are one step closer to making Wales world leading in school sport.

It is our vision at Sport Wales to get every child hooked on sport for life.  This is not only to build a future nation of sporting champions to carry on the great feats being achieved by the likes of Becky James and Elinor Barker, our Six Nations Rugby squad, or our numerous football teams (Swansea City winning the League Cup, Wrexham bringing home the FA Trophy, the hopeful promotion of Cardiff City and Newport County, alongside the recent success seen by the national team) but also to create healthier and more active future generations.

Young people who have the skills and confidence to participate in sport and physical activity, who are provided with a variety of engaging sporting experiences that combine elements of competitiveness and fun, delivered by motivating people will result in them participating in regular, physical activity for the rest of their lives.

To ensure that we are achieving this and that the correct improvements and developments can be made, it is vital that we gain feedback from our younger generations, to acquire an accurate account of school sport from their perspective, and also from those currently in charge of managing school sport.

The greatest value of the 2013 School Sport Survey will be in allowing us to make considerable headway in building this understanding of what is happening on the ground, alongside understanding pupils’ attitudes towards sport and physical recreation. 

It will be vital to informing the decisions we at Sport Wales make on planning and resources, it should also therefore be utilised as the valuable resource it is to inform the decisions that our partners make within these areas.

We have seen hugely encouraging developments from individual schools who have managed to use the 2011 school sport survey data to improve levels of learner engagement in sport, to successfully target groups previously excluded from sport, to share resources and infrastructure to provide a more comprehensive and appealing offering of sport and to generally improve participation levels. 

All of which would not have progressed without the clear starting point that the 2011 data provided.  We want to see more of this progress emerging from the 2013 data.  Schools are at the heart of an active nation and every school will be urged to look at making sport a priority area in the future. 

As many of you will know the Joint Ministerial Task and Finish Group is very soon due to report recommendations on how to develop sporting skills and increase the sporting opportunities for children within schools. 

I have argued within the Task and Finish group that we have been charged by our Ministers for Education and Sport to discharge the Government’s commitment to ensuring that physical literacy is equal to reading and writing in our schools. The group will need to consider exactly how that might be delivered and how we alter the status and profile of PE within the national curriculum to award it the same status as that of numeracy and literacy.

In both cases, participation in the school sport survey could provide the first positive step for a school in the process to gain data that will become invaluable in planning how to attain these recommendations.  Recommendations which consequently could put Wales as world leaders in school sport.

It must also not be forgotten that Estyn have for the first time agreed to recognise that data from the School Sport Survey can contribute to a school’s self-evaluation arrangements.  This again recognising how the survey can inform strategic and improvement plans, helping schools to focus on their priorities for development.

I have identified schools as being at the heart of an active nation.  Our vision of getting every child hooked on sport for life would not however be possible without the significant role also played by local authorities.

In 2011, local authorities performed an important and influential role in encouraging schools to complete the survey.  The ability of individual authorities to marry the efforts of both sport and leisure with education departments, to support schools in the completion of the survey, resulted in a return of data which has also resulted in significant improvements at a county level.

I am pleased to have seen evidence where local authorities who were able to gain data in 2011, have been able to identify and address gaps in participation, unite schools and clubs to ensure resources and equipment are shared to create additional opportunities and also to ensure that extracurricular activities being offered outside of schools are meeting the needs of youngsters.

This last point is crucial.  We cannot expect a child to fully commit to a sport that is not available to them outside of school. Local authorities need to therefore ensure that the correct sporting opportunities are also available outside of school for youngsters to progress into.  Data from the survey can provide a great amount of insight into this area to ensure that plans are put in place to develop the required areas.

I cannot foresee a situation in which the data provided by the 2013 school sport survey would not become an extremely invaluable tool for all of those involved in helping to shape the future sporting landscape of Wales.  We all hopefully by now recognise the importance of physical literacy, and getting every child hooked on sport for life, so let’s work together to push Wales as a world leader in terms of providing sporting opportunities for its youngsters.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Leading the Leaders, by Rob Guy

Rob Guy from Sports Leaders UK takes a look at an amazing year for sports leadership in Wales. 

2012 was a special year in the sporting heart of our nation for many reasons, with top flight football and a Welsh rugby Grand Slam, watching Jade Jones throw off her taekwondo headguard in delight at winning Gold, or the pride in hosting the very first event of the Olympic Games at the Millennium Stadium.

This top level sport did put a spotlight on grassroots sport, volunteering and the benefits of physical activity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved for the past 10 years in developing Sports Leadership programmes and initiatives in Wales for Sports Leaders UK.

Take the story of April Morgan. She was a student in Ebbw Vale Comprehensive School who was not keen on sport, but in 2010 she started on a Sports Leadership pathway in Blaenau Gwent. April has been such an inspiration with her commitment to volunteering in sport that she was a finalist at the 2012 Sport Wales Coach of the Year Award for Young Volunteer Coach of the Year. This is one story of many - and the statistics speak for themselves.

More than 7600 young people trained as Sports Leaders in Wales in 2012 and they in turn volunteer with tens of thousands more and help inspire the next Jade Jones.

More recently Sports Leaders UK has also been working with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which led to the launch of the Millennium Volunteers MV50 Sport Award though Gwirvol. This programme is very important to Sports Leaders UK because it recognises sustained volunteering by young people in sport as they have to complete 50 hours. They are then signposted on to the MV 100 and MV 200 Awards. For me this means mobilisation of Sports Leaders and a big step towards getting every child hooked on sport for life. Just over a year after the launch we have had 250 young people achieve the MV Sport Award which equates to over 10,000 hours volunteered in school and community sport. Of those that have achieved their MV Sport Award, 90 have gone on to achieve their MV 100 Award and 21 their MV200 Award. But I know this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of young people volunteering in sport and in year two of the award we are looking to get 2012 young people achieving the MV Sport Award which will represent a true legacy from London 2012.

Another big step in 2012 has been the roll out of the Bronze Young Ambassador programme linked to the Young Leader Award. By starting the Leadership Continuum at a young age, we are encouraging people in Wales to get used to volunteering in sport and to develop the confidence to involve others in physical activity. This feeds into higher level leadership programmes and higher level Young Ambassadors.

2012 has also seen the launch of a partnership between Sports Leaders UK and Welsh National Governing Bodies of Sport to create Sports Specific Leaders Awards which help underpin the coaching infrastructure in Wales. This work has required a lot of joined up thinking but has resulted in a seamless link between the Active Young People Organiser Award, which is awarded by Sports Leaders UK on behalf of Sport Wales, The Sports Leaders UK Leadership Awards and the Sports Specific Leadership Awards. It also means that people in Wales can start organising sports specific activities from the age of 13 upwards which, for example, Welsh Gymnastics has found to be fantastic in terms of workforce development.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is to work with like-minded organisations to offer opportunities to target audiences who might otherwise not be able to access Sports Leadership, such as Street Football Wales, Positive Futures Newport and StreetGames projects. Sport Wales has been instrumental in bringing us all together to impact on the Child Poverty Strategy and coordinating our organisations for the good of young people in Wales. This fantastic working relationship and partnership with Sport Wales culminated in Sport Wales being presented with the Sports Leaders UK Presidents Cup for outstanding commitment to Sports Volunteering in 2012.

I am looking forward to a very exciting 2013 which includes our first ever Sports Leadership and Volunteering conference which covers the five counties of Gwent and is being hosted by the University of Wales Newport.
Rob Guy

National Manager Sports Leaders UK

Thursday, March 21, 2013

As the School Sport Survey 2013 is about to launch, Mrs Thomas, Head Teacher at Cowbridge Comprehensive School tell us why completing the School Sport Survey is a no-brainer.

Is Sport and PE important?
Sport at Cowbridge has a long tradition so for us it is very significant but in general terms sport and PE is very important– the sorts of habits we engender in pupils tend to become lifetime habits so we must ensure pupils feel that they contribute and feel part of the opportunities we create in order for them to continue playing sport later on in life.

Why is the School Sport Survey so important to Cowbridge?
The School Sport Survey is an important tool for allowing pupils to feel more involved and valued; it also gives us vital data so we can continue to improve the sport provision throughout the school. It’s important that pupils are consulted for all sorts of reasons but especially in sport.

How did you use the results?
As a school we are very good at self-evaluation and the 2011 School Sport Survey formed part of this. The PE department focused on the key areas of significance and the results were critical to the improvements we have since made, including the establishment of a school sports council and the installation of a gym to encourage independent exercise.

What would you say to a school that didn’t fill out the survey last time?
I would encourage schools to complete the survey because it does contribute to self-evaluation and it does allow you to generate data that you wouldn’t actually identify if you hadn’t signed up.  It’s important for the fitness of the nation to make sure pupils feel that they have a diverse range of sporting opportunities throughout school life.

The Sport Wales School Sport Survey goes live from April 8th 2013. For more information visit

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Schools Must Give Pupils the Opportunity to Have a Voice on Sport by Gold YA, Muireann Henderson

Muireann Henderson is a Gold Young Ambassador at Ysgol John Bright.  She has seen big changes to sport within her school and a dramatic increase in participation among her peers since the last School Sport Survey. 

In her opinion schools must give pupils the opportunity to have a say in order to reap these benefits.

I was lucky to have the chance to complete the school sport survey last time around.  Schools across Conwy put a big effort into ensuring that their pupils undertook the online survey and in my opinion this has benefitted both us as pupils and the individual schools greatly.

The results from the survey allowed the schools in Conwy to understand why certain groups of pupils were not taking part in school sport.  They also shed light on what they could do to turn this around.

As a result there are now many more sports being offered in schools which appeals to many more pupils.  To support this, the schools are all now working together and also with local clubs to share facilities and resources.

Results from the last survey highlighted how girls especially those aged 14+ wanted to become more active but did not enjoy traditional PE sports.  One of the biggest successes from the last school sport survey has been the creation of Only Girls Allowed sessions, which has seen a big increase in the amount of these girls taking part in school sport. 

The schools now offer zumba, spin and trampolining sessions through local clubs and gyms, which is encouraging girls back into sport in school and also into gyms and local clubs within their spare time.

The schools ability to better match school sport to the wants and needs of their pupils, like with the Only Girls Allowed sessions, has meant that more of us are regularly participating and getting more out of it.

It is unquestionable that we have seen a great improvement in school sport here in Ysgol John Bright and across Conwy thanks to the last school sport survey.   

I am glad that I had the opportunity to influence decision making around school sport and am certain that we have all benefitted from this experience.  Schools really must give their pupils the opportunity to have a say this year!

The Sport Wales School Sport Survey goes live from April 8th 2013. For more information visit

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson Backs School Sport Survey Push

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson blogs on the importance of the School Sport Survey and why it’s not just about the children who enjoy sport but why it’s about making sport good for the person who likes sport the least.

We all know that sport and PE is very important to schools in Wales so it’s crucial that we continue to set the right tone for young people. It’s not just about supporting the few who excel but it’s about making it fun and enjoyable for every single person in the class– by getting that right we will see a more active, healthier population who will hopefully continue to participate in sport for the rest of their lives. 

But of course, it is also about improving the talent pathway. The better we are at recognising and nurturing talent within the school playground, the more pupils we will see coming through at higher levels. However it’s not as if we are doing really badly at the moment – we are doing very well, but we perhaps still need more young people competing at an elite level to encourage and inspire everybody else.

This is where the School Sport Survey comes into play – it’s a very important tool for sport in Wales. The data collected is priceless; we get to know what’s happening in schools and what’s not.  Everybody’s experience of PE and sport is obviously different but getting these honest responses can help mould policy and funding while also improving experience.

It’s important that we measure PE and sport rather than basing our findings on anecdotal evidence. Policy makers cannot base decisions on what PE was like when they were in school or what it was like five years ago, we need to be asking people who are experiencing it right now.

We desperately need a healthier population in Wales – it’s not just about making children and young adults participate in physical education because it is good for them or forcing them to do something they do not like. A successful sports programme can have a positive effect on issues such as teenage pregnancies, social skills and relationships as well as helping the next generation to stay fit and healthy throughout life.

We know that schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure and have lots of different priorities which may mean the School Sport Survey may not necessarily come top of the list. However the data collected affects decision making at lots of different levels. I urge every school to take the time to fill in the survey because it does make a difference to sport in Wales and that difference is our children’s future.


For more on the School Sport Survey visit 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

School Sport Survey: We have a Plan, by Marianne Jackson

With just a few weeks until the 2013 survey goes live, Marianne Jackson, Head of Community Development Services for Conwy County Borough Council, explains the importance of the School Sport Survey in making a difference to sports participation in the County.

At Conwy we were clear in 2011 how the data from the survey could help us to plan the future of sport for young people.

For me, there were three areas that stood out:

1.    It enables evidence based planning for medium and long term delivery strategies
2.    It allows us to set baselines for participation levels
3.    It allows us to set improvement targets based on levels of participation

These are crucial and will be a key driver and influencer for what we need to do in the future.

In 2011, an important aspect was that the survey was supported by our Education Department. It’s not just about leisure, it’s important to schools as well. It’s important to schools in terms of evidencing well-being and providing learners with a voice. While it’s also important to leisure in terms of providing activities that meet the needs of young people.

Marrying school and community programmes can be a very powerful tool. If schools can provide activities that meet the needs of young people, and if we can then also offer them the same activities at leisure centres and clubs, then we can make a significant positive impact on levels of participation.

We believe that we in Conwy are making greats inroads since our successful survey report in 2011 and key to this is effective partnership work between education and leisure.

We look forward to receiving the 2013 report in Conwy, and we hope that the positive work undertaken in Conwy since 2011 will show positive signs of improvement.

We will be giving the survey the same commitment and attention to ensure we get our reports in 2013. If we haven’t got the data then we are missing an opportunity to keep making positive change for young people in Conwy.
The Sport Wales School Sport Survey goes live from April 8th 2013. For more information visit

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chicks on Comics - exhibition at gallery alpha nova

Chicks on Comics, who always gab about everything publicly, are now playing the 'telephone game' and those, who best like to issue autobiographical notes, now take the adventure of genre comics. There will be new fanzines and guest contributions from guest chicks und cocks from Argentinia, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, the USA, Great Britian and Germany!
 We are very excited to meet  with almost all members of our group in Berlin: Sole, Clara, Paola and Maartje will be in Berlin for the panel - discussion on 16.03.2012 at 14:00! So come along and see us chat for the first time live and analogue!

This is the cover that I did for one of the fanzines.
The Flyer above is by Powerpaola and me.

Gefördert durch das Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen aus Mitteln des Auswärtigen Amts

Friday, March 8, 2013

School Sport Survey 2013: Drive to Report, by Lynn Phillips

In 2011, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council were one of just three local authorities in Wales to receive a full School Sport Survey report. Here, Lynn Phillips, Assistant Director in Blaenau Gwent’s Education and Leisure Directorate, explains how their commitment to get the data they wanted helped to get the reports.
The important thing for us from the start was to have that underlying baseline and picture of participation and provision in our area. We need to make decisions in the future about services that impact on children in our area so we need to have the information and knowledge to help us do that successfully.
We had an Estyn inspection coming up and we knew how the evidence from the survey could be used, as well as having the baseline for future impact.
It was important as well that we had school level as well as local authority level data and I’ve been really pleased with how the schools are using the data positively to make improvements. It is important for us as a team that we can demonstrate that the work we are doing is having the impact we want on sport in Blaenau Gwent.
When we were going out to schools and teaching staff to talk about the survey we felt we needed to show how committed we were to the project and the importance of the data. We met with head teachers regularly to answers any questions and concerns.
In fairness to our sport team they were relentless in their determination to get reports. I think we, as a local authority sport team, need to have that drive. If we haven’t got it then we wouldn’t expect others to have the motivation to fill out the survey. We know that schools have a heavy workload and lots of priorities, but this is important and we think we put that across.
For 2013 we’ll learn from last time and we know that the questions have been looked at and the IT.
But the main message for the team will be to show that commitment to getting the data again.
We can also demonstrate the results we had in 2011. Yes, we’ve got the gender participation gap, which is the same as the national picture. But we also found that in certain schools where we have specific projects or provision we’ve managed to close and stop that gap.
It’s only by having the data we’ll know these things and be able to address them.
The Sport Wales School Sport Survey goes live from April 8th 2013. For more information visit