National School Sport Week Fencing Activities
27th June – 1st July 2011
Change 4 Life Fencing Tournament, Friern Barnet School & Alexandra Park School
Following a link established by British Fencing Schools & Clubs Officer Holly Miles, Friern Barnet School and Alexandra Park School, two fencing Change 4 Life secondary schools in north London, arranged a fencing tournament, for their Year 7 and 8 students, hosted by Friern Barnet on Tuesday 28th June 2011. Jack Boteler, BF Leadership & Coaching Intern, attended to witness the action.
What was immediately apparent was that this was going to be a very informal, friendly affair. With relatively uneven teams, in terms of numbers at least – six from Friern Barnet and nine from Alexandra Park – the focus was just as much on meeting students from another school and having the opportunity to fence against them as it was on winning and losing.
The tournament was co-ordinated by Frien Barnet’s coach, Irina Buzikova, ably assisted by Young Leader Sujane (who also doubled up as one of the six Friern Barnet fencers). Irina divided the students into three “poules” (groups) of five, with two Friern Barnet students and three Alexandra Park students in each poule.
Once divided into their poules, there was very little need for any further adult involvement, with the students perfectly capable and confident of organising and refereeing themselves. Some students quite clearly enjoyed the challenge (and authority!) of refereeing just as much as getting on the piste and fencing. It was good to see just how willing the fencers were to accept the decision of the referee – something that some competitive fencers could perhaps learn from! It was also very pleasing to see children with cerebral palsy, BESD and autism participating, demonstrating just how inclusive and accessible both the Change 4 Life programme and the sport of fencing can be. It was also interesting to note that there was no real difference between the students who had been taught by a professional fencing coach, and those who had been taught by a fencing leader.
Overall, this was a fantastic example of both the Change 4 Life project and grass roots school sport at work: a group of children who would not usually be involved in school sport given the opportunity to participate in something new, have fun and make new friends. Having a go at fencing was clearly not only a way for the children to improve their fitness and be more active, it was also a way of developing leadership, confidence and social skills. Well done, everyone!
GO/FENCE Taster Sessions, Hertford & Ware School Sport Partnership
Pupils in schools across Hertford and Ware received their first experience of GO/FENCE during National School Sport Week. On Tuesday the School Sports Partnership hosted the Hertford & Ware Games at Presdales School. Over 150 local primary school pupils attended the day and schools were encouraged to bring pupils that don’t regularly represent the school in other sports fixtures.
Many Paralympic and Olympic Sports were on offer, including tennis, boccia and fencing. The activities were inclusive, with students from mainstream and Special Educational Needs schools participating together. Groups rotated around the activities so all the pupils got a taste of the range of sports on offer. Pupils were selected at the end of every session for displaying the Olympic and Paralympic values, and received wristbands for their efforts. All pupils went home with a certificate of achievement.
The following day was the chance for secondary school pupils at Simon Balle secondary school in Hertford to have a go at fencing. Throughout the day 120 pupils learnt the basics of fencing including footwork and attacking moves, and at the end of each session they had a chance to ‘free fence’.
The feedback from both days was that pupils really enjoyed fencing and it was a hit with both the students and the teachers. The activities were delivered to those from mainstream and special schools. Staff commented on how fencing minimised the gap between the highest achieving sports stars and those in lower P.E ability groups, and it was an effective activity to challenge all pupils out of their comfort zone. Over the two days many of the staff enquired as to when they can arrange for some fencing activity to take place within their schools. It is hoped that a GO/FENCE leader course can be organised for the Partnership early next academic year.
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