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By Laura Taylor, Feb 22 2018 10:24AM

Free football kit and equipment is being made available to primary schools across England and Wales as the Premier League Primary Stars kit and equipment scheme opens for applications.

The Premier League Primary Stars programme is a national curriculum-linked education initiative, designed to inspire children to learn, engage and be active.

Using the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs, the programme provides ways for teachers to inspire girls and boys aged 5-11 in the classroom, the playground and on the sports field.

The scheme offers primary schools the opportunity to apply for free resources which can be used for active classroom sessions, PE lessons and for school sports teams. The scheme is run in partnership with Nike and delivered by the Football Foundation.

Nick Perchard, head of community at the Premier League said: “The Premier League Primary Stars kit and equipment scheme gives us the opportunity to provide free resources to primary schools taking part in the programme.

“Schools have the opportunity to apply for a full playing kit, or an equipment pack which includes items that support teachers to get their children active throughout the day.

“We hope this year’s process will be as successful as last year when we donated over 3,700 kits and equipment packs. The scheme is open to existing Premier League Primary Stars schools and we hope it will encourage teachers who have not yet signed up to the programme to get involved with Premier League Primary Stars.”

This year’s application window runs until Friday 6 April. Successful applicants will receive their kit/equipment from September 2018.

Schools should visit for details on eligibility and how to apply for the kit and equipment – and how to access the other exciting Premier League Primary Stars resources that are available to them.

By Laura Taylor, Feb 21 2018 10:02AM

Taunton School’s U14 boys hockey team are celebrating after claiming the Somerset county title.

The side won six games and drew one in the round-robin format, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one.

The team now progress to the regional finals of the competition early in March.

By Laura Taylor, Feb 19 2018 09:47AM

Time on the curriculum for physical education is being squeezed, new research from a leading children’s charity shows.

The alarming findings from research carried out by the Youth Sport Trust (YST) suggests that 38% of English secondary schools have cut timetabled PE for 14-16-year-olds since 2012 while almost one in four (24%) have done so in the last academic year.

YST, which works with thousands of schools across the country, has warned that unless the slide is reversed then a generation will be denied the benefits of a revitalized physical education.

It comes at a time when too many young people are inactive, obesity rates are going up, mental health issues are increasing, and there is a need for growing resilience and other employability skills among this generation.

Ali Oliver, chief executive of the YST, said: “It is alarming that opportunities for young people to be active during the school day are diminishing year-on-year.

“Like English and Maths, physical education should be part of the bedrock of a good education which equips young people with the vital skills which support their wellbeing, ability to learn in other subjects and help prepare them for employment.

“A high-quality PE curriculum uses sport as a vehicle through which a joy of movement is established, life skills are developed and an understanding of a healthy lifestyle is acquired.

“Cuts to physical education time are depriving young people of these benefits at a time when they have never needed them more. We will be selling this and future generations short if PE is not made fit for the 21st century and put at the heart of a broad and balanced curriculum in our schools.”

The YST research is based on responses from teachers at 487 English secondary schools.

It found that timetabled physical education time is decreasing and the cuts get bigger as students get older.

At key stage four (ages 14 to 16), 38% of schools had reduced timetabled PE in the past five years while 24% had done so in the past year.

On average, pupils moving from key stage 3 to key stage 4 experience a 21% drop in the amount of curriculum PE they receive a week.

By the time they are aged 16 to 18-years-old they are doing just 34 minutes a week at school.

Exam pressure, additional curriculum time for other subjects and staffing cuts are among the reasons cited for reductions.

Thirty eight per cent of teachers said their PE provision has declined because core/eBacc subjects have been given additional time with students taken out of timetabled physical education for extra tuition in other subjects.

It is suggested these are the very same young people who need that physical activity time the most. One in three cited exam pressures as a key reason for the decline.

Physical education teachers overwhelming feel the subject needs to be more valued amongst school leaders, parents, wider stakeholders and importantly young people.

Ninety seven per cent of teachers agree PE should be valued more within the school curriculum for what it offers young people.

A secondary school’s physical education provision is often judged on GCSE PE grades and trophies rather than its impact engaging and developing the health and wellbeing of students across the school.

The YST is calling for an overhaul of PE’s place in the curriculum to place much greater emphasis on using sport and physical activity to enhance young people’s confidence, emotional wellbeing, physical health and life skills.

Examples of how this is being achieved in some parts of the country include YST’s My Personal Best programme which supports PE teachers to develop students’ life skills through PE.

In Lancashire where the programme is being run in 40 schools, PE departments are now either leading the school health and wellbeing or working much more closely with health and wellbeing leads.

By Laura Taylor, Feb 16 2018 05:56PM

Reigning champions Felsted School have been handed a tough task to defend their title in this season’s School Sport Magazine National Schools U15 Girls T20 Cricket Cup.

The Essex side, who won the 2017 trophy following the disqualification of Staffordshire’s Abbotsholme School, have been drawn against county rivals Shenfield High School and New Hall School as well as Hertfordshire neighbours Queenswood School.

2016 winners Horizon Community College, from Barnsley will play Wakefield Girls High School, the Grammar at Leeds at Stamford High School in their first round-robin group.

Two-time champions Brighton College face fellow Sussex rivals Mayfield School, Gildredge House School and Brighton & Hove High School.

For the first time in the competition’s five-year history, entries closed early after the maximum number of teams was reached for the first time.

This year teams have been split into sixteen geographical groups with schools competing in two round-robin formats – one before and one after half-term.

The winners of each group will be split into four further groups with the winners of each qualifying for the finals day – this year taking place again on Monday Sep 3 at Felsted School in Essex.

By Laura Taylor, Feb 15 2018 10:53AM

The RFL’s Champion Schools - the world’s biggest schools’ rugby league competition – is moving to the summer term in the north of England this year.

The main finals - for years 8-10 boys and years 7-10 girls – will take place at a new venue during the week beginning July 2.

But the prestigious year 7 boys’ final will remain as the curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday August 25.


It’s part of a range of changes in 2018 designed to support more players to play more often at an appropriate level at school and to deliver outstanding rugby league experiences for young people, their families and teachers.

The finals will be supported by the RFL’s performance and development team and will feature support from former players and leading coaches.

The Rugby Football League is working with schools and colleges to promote a schools' 'grand day out' to the Challenge Cup and more information on this part of the campaign will be available soon.

Adam Hughes, the RFL’s education lead, said: “The Champion Schools finals day is a very special day in the rugby league calendar and it will be exciting to see how we can add to what is already a great experience by bringing it to a rugby league venue in the north.

“Our partner schools have fed into us and these changes are as a direct result of their feedback. We are now inviting rugby league clubs and our foundation partners to tender for this special event.”

By Laura Taylor, Feb 8 2018 05:08PM

The English Schools FA are hosting a celebration of girls’ football at Notts County FC next month.

More than 100 schools and colleges from across England entered the English Schools’ FA (ESFA) U18 Schools’ Cup and Colleges’ Cup for Girls this season

And on Thursday 8 March the four remaining national finalists will battle it out to become national champions at Notts County’s Meadow Lane Stadium with kick-offs at 12 noon and 4pm.

Darren Alcock, ESFA national competitions manager said: “The atmosphere in the stadium makes all the difference to the players on the pitch and whilst we do all we can to create a fantastic match-day experience for them, we rely on supporters and the public to create a real buzz around the final.

“Schools from the local area will be invited to attend, with special discounted rates of entry and Notts County season ticket holders can also claim free entry for the match. We hope to welcome along as many spectators as possible to enjoy the event.”

By Laura Taylor, Feb 5 2018 01:28PM

Warwick School’s U15 and U18 rugby teams have both reached their respective semi-finals of the RFU Schools Cup national competitions.

Warwick’s 1st XV beat Canford School in their quarter-final back in December, and face Whitgift School in their semi-final.

How the U15s will join them – although they know how to create a tense game of rugby and their quarter-final against Northampton School for Boys certainly didn’t disappoint!

Northampton’s main pitch looked sublime under floodlights suggesting that they had not been suffering with the same rain that has left puddles on pitches at Myton Road.

Both teams started strongly and were firing into collisions. Perhaps Warwick were too eager and gave an early penalty away near the 22m resulting in a three-point lead for Northampton.

Almost immediately Warwick got a penalty of their own and Elliot Tanner stepped up to take the three points.

Both sides were looking to move the ball and play attacking rugby, only determined defence was standing in the way.

Instead of going around or running through, Tom Patrick decided kicking over was the way forward. Working in unison with winger Harvey Brown, a little kick behind was gathered expertly in one hand and Harvey stepped several defenders before diving over to score.

Several minutes later Patrick again spotted space out wide. A cross-field kick was gathered by Harvey who this time stepped even more defenders.

In the second half the nature of the game changed dramatically. A hugely inspired Northampton side were not going to let Warwick win without a fight.

They decided to play a more direct and confrontational style of play utilising their size advantage. Several of their forwards and a large centre pairing were now threatening to score and eventually made a breakthrough ten minutes into the second half.

The scoreline at 15-8 still meant that Warwick had an advantage due to scoring first and being the away team resulting in at least two scores needed for Northampton.

This Warwick team then found themselves unable to escape their own half and needing to defend with everything they had. Constant Northampton attacks from lineout mauls, pick and goes and direct running lasted for 15 minutes.

Every player on the pitch showed a level of commitment this team has been accused of lacking. Despite numerous injuries the Warwick wall stood firm. Tackle after tackle was made and despite visible exhaustion in some boys they kept on going.

The referee declared the last play of the game and Northampton managed to squeeze their way over the line and their number ten took a perfect conversion from the touchline. Sadly for them it was too late but they had played a huge part in an exciting game of school boy rugby.

Warwick now need to recover some tired and injured bodies in time for the semi-final on Sunday March 3 at Allianz Park, home of Saracens against Manchester Grammar School (2pm).

The U18s will play their national semi-final on the Saturday March 3 against Whitgift School (5pm).

By Laura Taylor, Feb 2 2018 11:29AM

Sports-minded pupils have overwhelmingly backed the introduction of video assistant referees (VAR).

As part of England’s first-ever National Schools’ Football Week, in conjunction with the ESFA PlayStation®Schools’ Cup, pupils got to vote on some of the most important aspects of the game.

And an overwhelming 86% of them backed the new VAR system as a way to help referees get the right decisions in games.

Reaction to the new system this season has been mixed but more than 1700 of the 2000 schoolchildren that responded to the survey were in favour of VAR.

Classrooms around the country are now preparing to take part in the first-ever National Schools’ Football Week February 5-9.

The new initiative aims to reflect the spirit of competition, fair play and team work, with schools staging football-themed events and lessons throughout the week.

Jo Bartlett, who heads up the PlayStation Schools’ Cup programme, said: “It was great to get some very relevant feedback about football from young people who care about the game.

“Giving pupils this platform to voice their opinion is in keeping with the spirit of National Schools’ Football Week, which is all about using the power of football to inspire pupils both on and off the pitch.”

More than 200,000 pupils are taking part in this season’s ESFA PlayStation®Schools’ Cup football competitions.

Other feedback from the sports-minded students included:

*Tottenham’s Harry Kane voted as pupils’ Premier League Player of the Year ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Liverpool’s Mo Salah.

*A majority of 62% would be in favour of introducing a sin-bin rule, as used in rugby union, as a good way to eliminate diving.

*67% of pupils felt attending live football games is not affordable for young fans and their families, while 44% of pupils surveyed did not expect to attend a live football match this season.

By Laura Taylor, Feb 1 2018 12:30PM

A record number of new and returning sides have signed up for the 2018 School Sport Magazine National Schools U15 T20 Girls Cricket Cup.

And for the first time in the five-year history of the popular competition, entries have now closed after the entry limit has been reached.

Debutants in 2018 will include Dorset’s Parkstone Grammar School and Sherborne School, The Grammar School at Leeds, Norfolk’s Norwich School and Langley School, Aylesbury and Wycombe High Schools, from Buckinghamshire, Oxford High School, Plymouth College, Brighton & Hove High School, Framlingham College, Oundle School, St George’s College Weybridge, Shropshire’s Oswestry School, Kent’s St Lawrence College, King’s College Canterbury and Kent College, Eggar’s School, from Hampshire, Northamptonshire’s Wellingborough School, Cranleigh School, from Surrey, London’s Colfe’s School, Emanuel School, Godolphin & Latymer School, South Hampsted High School and Ibstock Place School, The Leys School and The Stephen Perse Foundation, from Cambridge, Somerset’s Castle School, King’s College Taunton and Holyrood Academy, Mayfield School from East Sussex, Ardingly College and St Peter’s Catholic High School, from Wigan, as the growth in grass roots girls’ cricket continues

They will be joined by the likes of 2017 holders Felsted School, 2016 winners Horizon Community College, from Barnsley, two time champions Brighton College, Altrincham Grammar, Berkhamsted School, Bromsgrove School, Canford School, Ellesmere College, Gildredge House School, Hurstpierpoint College, James Allen’s Girls School, Kingston Grammar, Leicester Grammar, Millfield, Moreton Hall, New Hall School, Ormskirk School, Perse School, Queenswood School, Shenfield High School, Shrewsbury High School, Shrewsbury School, South Dartmoor Academy, Stamford High School, St Helen & St Katharine School, St Joseph’s College, St Swithun’s School, Taunton School, Truro School, Wakefield Girls HS and Woodbridge School.

Following England’s Women’s fantastic World Cup cricket success this summer, the 11-a-side hardball competition will be run on a local, county and regional basis in the early rounds to avoid excess travel and will be played mainly in midweek but weekends if preferred.

To offer more schools more opportunities and more matches next season, the competition will again be run in group stages before and after the summer half term before the top four sides qualify for the knockout stages on finals day taking place in early September.

To take part in the 2019 cup, or to be put on the reserve list for 2018, email

By Laura Taylor, Feb 1 2018 12:24PM

We have revealed the country’s best state sports schools of 2017 – now it’s the turn of Britain’s best independent schools.

Hundreds of schools turn in a series of remarkable results after months of hard work – but who are the country’s best of the best.

The list reflects competitive achievement in a range of sports throughout 2017 and honours those schools that take competition especially seriously.

So congratulations to Millfield School – winners for the fifth successive year - who reached the final stages of ten different sports and won national titles at football, tennis, swimming and biathlon.

Well done too to Whitgift School in Surrey, second for the fifth successive year, who won four national titles at rugby union, hockey, table tennis and biathlon and reached the final stages of three more.

Compliments also to Guildford High School - in third place again - one of four all-girls schools in the top 30, who reached the later stages of national netball, athletics, swimming, lacrosse and cross-country competitions.

Manchester Grammar School made it into the top ten for the first time in fifth place as did Cumbria’s Sedbergh School in seventh.

(To read the full story in our Jan/Feb 2018 edition, subscribe to School Sport Magazine for just £29 a year. Email for further details)