John Finlayson said: “There were not enough opportunities for children to take part in activities. What was in place was not strategic or regular and pupils and parents were wanting more.” As a result, the school sought to involve pupils regularly in healthy activities, provide training for teachers and community members, create a junior sports club that worked both independently and with the school and also raise funds to be able to buy a bus to enable the children to travel to activities. This was all achieved.
Portree Primary measured the success of the project by monitoring the uptake of pupils, the number of activities made available, the number of coaches/volunteers involved and finally the improvements in pupil fitness. This initiative is to remain ongoing for the foreseeable future with further training, coaching and fundraising having been put in place.
Currently, the project takes place every evening and every Saturday during term time. Between 200-300 pupils are regularly taking part. In the run up to the Olympics, more time was spent on the project which see’s school staff, coaches, active schools co-ordinators and PE staff working together.
Involving the local community; a number of community members are coaches with training offered to parents who want to participate. The business community also contributed with sponsorship and helped provide 50 per cent of the funding required for a new bus. Local companies also sponsored sports kit.
The project continues to thrive each term and has a long term aim of being sustainable as a core activity and 87 per cent of pupils are currently involved in the clubs. This has therefore seen an improvement in general fitness levels and more activities are added every year. Pupils self-esteem has been enhanced through taking part and there is a positive attitude to health and well-being at the school. The project has also provided a positive link between the school and the wider community.
John added: “The wider community supports the project and without this it would not continue to succeed. The wider community feels pride in what the school does and achieves and supports all activities and events.
“It is a living legacy with more ambitions to come (with) lots of successes, lots of social and educational integration, lots of ongoing involvement. Previous successes are what makes people want to join and want to succeed and improve.”