Director of sport wants pupils to have ‘smiles on their faces’ during PE

Peter Taylor, director of sport at Ipswich High School. Photo: Anthony Cullen

The new director of sport at a Suffolk school is prioritising the happiness of all pupils in PE lessons.

Peter Taylor initially joined Ipswich High School in September 2018 as head of boys PE and games but has now taken on the role of director of sport.

He started at the Woolverstone school at a momentous time when it first welcomed boys into the Prep School and Sixth Form and began teaching via the Diamond Model of education.

Mr Taylor, a teacher since 2007 who has worked at schools in Hertfordshire and Norfolk, said: “It was a really new and exciting challenge coming to Ipswich High School.

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“We have fantastic facilities so coming in and setting up the boys’ curriculum has been great. “In the Prep School, it’s been tailoring and developing the curriculum for the boys that have joined. It’s very varied and boys have been fantastic and engaged with what we’re doing.

“As we are now implementing the Diamond Model, we will ensure they have their own bespoke curriculum which will start with football, followed by rugby, hockey and then typical summer sports.

“It’s been exciting developing the curriculum for our students as we don’t want to produce a one-sport person. We want to develop athletes across a variety of sports.”

The Diamond Model is unique in Suffolk and involves girls and boys being taught together in early years education, separately throughout their teenage years and are brought back together again in the sixth form, appreciating that boys and girls learn differently.

It provides the opportunity to combine the academic benefits of single-sex education with the social advantages of co-education.

He added: “To support our higher ability and gifted students we have expert staff including ex and current international hockey players as well as an FIH coach educator. Our expert staff know what it takes to compete at the highest level and are able to offer invaluable support to our students.

“We run an ‘Aspiring Athlete Programme’ which supports our top performers in school and offers them time management support as well as sport psychology support to make sure they are fully prepared to handle the rigours of school alongside their elite sport development.”

But Mr Taylor said that the school does not to just focus on its elite athletes.

“One of my key priorities is making subtle changes to our curriculum to increase enjoyment levels for all pupils,” he added. “We find that some girls for example, as they are getting older, don’t want to play hockey or netball every single term.

“I want people to love PE, having worked their socks off, but with smiles on their faces.

“They need to enjoy it. The hard work will come with the enjoyment factor and this is sometimes how you discover real talent in sport. It’s very exciting”

Mr Taylor said the curriculum is enhanced by the school’s enrichment programme which provides pupils with the opportunity to take up skiing, sailing, triathlon and equestrian among other sports.

The school’s Tri Club has recently been awarded the TriMark Club Bronze Accreditation by British Triathlon.

He added: “For a PE Department, the facilities here are outstanding. We have an astro turf, sports hall and swimming pool.

“It’s really important to have access to sport for all and excellence for those who pursue it.”

Ipswich High School takes part in the Suffolk PE and Sports Network which means the pupils can compete against other county schools in tournaments.

Teams from the school also participate in Independent Schools Association matches with several fixtures booked in for football, rugby and hockey.

Another element of Mr Taylor’s role is delivering outreach work with local schools for a half-term which culminates in a festival celebrating a sport such as athletics, football, hockey and tag rugby.

“We want to develop this partnership over the next few years because it’s great to work with our local schools and support what they are doing with their PE,” he added.

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