Providing sporting opportunities for each and every one of its students is something that King Edward VI Specialist College aimed for – and achieved. Lisa Symonds finds out how

King Edward VI is a specialist sports college based in Bury St Edmunds and attended by around 1,305 students aged between 13 and 18. The school, an officially accredited ‘healthy school’, is dedicated to providing its students with a curriculum that – from elite students to the most challenged – is 100 per cent inclusive.

In creating a mission statement, the school – which also plays host to the Bury St Edmunds School Sport Partnership (an umbrella organisation under which a network of 30 schools and numerous other partner businesses and agencies work) – has adopted the Olympic movement’s goal, which reads as follows: ‘To contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play’.

It is the aim of King Edward VI to ensure that each of its students:

  • is committed to PE and sport and makes them a central part of their lives both inside and outside of the school gates
  • knows and understands what they are trying to achieve and how to go about doing it
  • understands that PE and sport are an essential part of a healthy, active lifestyle
  • has the confidence to get involved and get active
  • possesses the skills and control required to get active
  • confidently and willingly takes part in a range of competitive, creative and challenging activities, both as individuals or as part of a team
  • gives thought to what  they are doing and makes appropriate decisions for themselves
  • demonstrates the desire to improve and achieve in relation to their own abilities
  • possesses stamina, suppleness and strength to remain active
  • enjoys PE, school and community sport.
Aim Example Impact
The opportunity to take part in new activities, e.g. dance and trampolining, along with more traditional games.
  • Students who previously failed to engage in traditional games are now attending classes in activities such as yoga or have joined the school’s linked martial arts clubs – each existing outside of the main curriculum framework.
  • The new choices now on offer have boosted student confidence and this confidence propels them to take up further activities (provided by local community links) outside of school hours.
The refurbishment of old facilities and introduction of new ones.
  • The creation of a new dome floor and fitness suite.
  • Increased motivation and skills levels. Positive comments about PE and sport.
The improvement of student working conditions.
  • The creation of a new PE kit and changing rooms given a make-over.
  • Student satisfaction increased as well as participation levels. PE-related truancy rate has fallen.
To create a genuine excitement and interest in ‘getting involved’.
  • The introduction of a dodge-ball league and various leadership activities/opportunities within it.
  • Increased motivation to attend and learn at school. Healthier lifestyles adopted by students.
To teach leadership skills that can be used outside of the PE department.
  • Establishment of Sport Education for Years 9 and 10, which allows students to adopt roles such as resource manager or mediator.
  • Disaffected or poorly attending girls in KS4 learned how to deliver ‘positive play’ games to primary school pupils as well as lead small groups.
  • The introduction of nationally accredited courses in leadership which offer students the chance to run events such as sports festivals.
  • Teamwork skills improved considerably and students able to make decisions more effectively.
  • Students feel they are able to achieve outside of the ‘sports’ or ‘academic’ arenas.
  • Skills developed that can be taken out of school and into the future workplace.
The creation of healthier lifestyles.
  • The delivery of help for children with health issues (physical, social or emotional).
  • The provision of three opportunity levels of physical involvement:

1) day-to-day activity levels (e.g. stair climbing) 2) exercise (e.g. self-defence)

3) higher level (e.g. teams sports such as rugby).    

  • Body image, self-esteem, motivation and attendance improved.
  • A sustainable approach to life-long healthy living instilled in students.
  • Potential for the improvement of grades.
  • Target groups invited to attend tailor-made clubs after school hours.
  • A move away from being ‘taught’ skills by someone else to developing their very own sporting prowess.
Sport Education: independent learning/responsibility training.
  • A programme which allows students to work independently and design and adapt their own drills and practices in conjunction with supervised activity.
  • Group work improved and a sense of belonging created.
  • New skills embraced that can be transferred to other classes and into the future workplace.
Develop links with community clubs, governing bodies and agencies.
  • CRB-checked and fully inducted coaches and instructors brought in to work alongside teachers.
  • Opportunities created thanks to links with The Self-Centre (yoga, pilates), Centre Court Tennis, Fighting Fit, the FA, Abbeycroft Leisure, etc, enables students to progress from school to after-hours clubs and on to community sport.
  • Students able to take part in activities and start at levels most suited to them.
  • Increased access to work experience and employment within the sport and leisure industry.
  • Some students set up their own businesses in the health and leisure arena having gained insight into sports business or administration.
  • Local businesses and clubs secure bonus publicity and membership revenue respectively.
Provision for gifted and talented students.
  • The introduction of Junior Athlete Education programme and allowing parents and teachers to train as JAE mentors.
  • Student attitude and behaviour improved.
  • A happy balance achieved between social life, school work and training.
  • A focused involvement of parents established.

All change in the quest for sports for all
In its efforts to deliver high quality PESSCL and ensure that all under-16s have access to it for a minimum of two hours per week, King Edward VI and its partnership of 25 primary and middle schools have staged a PE revolution that is exercised both within the school gates and beyond. Plans are in place to extend the school’s exemplary provisions to post-16s and increase the target participation in the run up to 2012.

Beyond the PE department

As well as delivering high quality sport for all, the college has worked with partner schools and the local community to improve links between PE and other subject areas. Extending the PE department’s ethos and activities beyond its traditional boundaries has proved a huge success and the projects listed below, say the college, are just the beginning:

  • media – sports journalism focus
  • art – motion drawing introduced to dance classes
  • ICT – the buying in of Adobe video editing software
  • maths – developing statistics based on fitness tests
  • languages – football poster display funding.

The school’s ongoing plans to integrate sport into other subjects and expand its inclusive, umbrella culture – each of which is student-led – include: 

  • music – composition of music themes for sports festivals
  • drama – productions or short films focusing on sport/festivals
  • nutrition – the creation of a healthy menu of food
  • the creation of a student-led media team
  • student-penned sports reports introduced on sports college website
  • cross-curricular challenges – sport- or exercise-related team quizzes.

Variety is the spice of life
Keeping it interesting and exploring the non-traditional is the key to the college’s wide and exciting PE curriculum. Here’s what King Edward VI’s healthy menu of PE and sport has to offer its students:

  • Sports Leaders 1
  • Sports Leaders 2 (community)
  • Internal accreditation scheme (personal improvement, participation, leadership and responsibility)
  • GCSE PE Games
  • GCSE PE Full
  • GCSE Dance
  • AS Dance
  • A2 Dance
  • AS PE
  • A2 PE
  • Mini basketball leaders course
  • FA level one course
  • FA junior football organisers course
  • Young helpers courses
  • Sport Education (a programme dedicated to increasing responsibility and leadership potential with students taking on roles such as resource manager, warm-up coach and captain. This filters through the pastoral system).

Some of the non-traditional activities available to students include:

Martial arts, yoga, trampolining, problem solving, orienteering, new age kurling (, table tennis, golf, fitness suite initiation, fitness training and testing (including balance and coordination tests), fundamental skill development (skill, agility and quickness training – SAQ), students learning how to administer and run small-scale round robins, leagues and other competitions.

Dance at King Edward VI
Students at the college are offered the opportunity to study AS, A2 and GCSE dance from Year 10 onwards and all Year 9 students gain dance experience. Partnerships with middle and primary schools enhance the current remit and also act to ease the transition from Year 8 to 9. Dance strategies and activities include:

  • minimum 10 hours’ dance for all Year 9 students
  • recruitment of an additional full-time teacher to facilitate dance for boys and teach to A-level
  • establishment of links with middle schools to support dance
  • research dance for boys
  • increase range of activities/styles inside and outside curriculum
  • consider introducing new course to allow more ‘non-specialist’ dance, e.g. GCSE expressive arts
  • ensure options system allows maximum dance take-up;
  • develop dance curriculum
  • at KS4
  • link with professional dance groups and organise workshops
  • by visitors
  • organise programme of visits to dance events
  • feature dance prominently in annual arts festival – include professional workshop activity.

ICT and PE join forces
Ambitious, hi-tech and taking students directly into the world of 21st-century sports analysis, Kandle software allows King Edward VI students to record their sporting performances, view in slow motion and, using graphics and other tools, evaluate and improve their skills.

Kandle is used in both PE lessons or coaching sessions and the college’s A-level students use it to create detailed printed analysis of their performance as part of their coursework.The combining of sport and ICT doesn’t end there with the PE department:

  • promoting the use of PowerPoint presentations by staff and students
  • delivering interactive quizzes from
  • encouraging the production of videos by both staff and students
  • marking out the internet as a primary source of research for class and coursework.

What the students say

‘Amazing’, ‘brilliant’, ‘such a positive atmosphere’ and ‘can we do more PE?’ are just a selection of the Year 9 reactions to their first two weeks of learning at King Edward VI.

Find out more

King Edward VI School Sports College

  • tel: 01284 716187
  • Web:
Category: ,