We don’t have any sports facilities on site. Our building is right next to multiple tube and national rail tracks. Our yard isn’t very big. We have no green space. There is no nearby public park. There is nowhere to park coaches outside school. We are at the end of a long, very narrow, cul de sac. There is no easily accessible sports centre.
Every Wednesday afternoon 120 Year 8s, give or take, jog to the local Powerleague site. Thursday afternoon the Year 7s do the same. We hire 6 pitches where both boys and girls do a variety of football, fitness training and dodgeball. They’re trained by sports trainers who are coordinated, largely, by an outside organization. We have, at this point, with two year groups and 240 kids, no real PE department.
The kids go to the 4th floor at 1.30 to get changed. They change in silence. They then read in silence until everyone in the changing room is ready.
I say ‘silence’ and some of you are imagining oppression, coercion, child cruelty. It’s really not.
Some of the time we’ll not actually be silent. We could be chanting Kipling or a bit of Shakespeare or Invictus or Ozymandias. Often teachers are firing questions at the kids. These could be science, French, maths – it really depends who is on changing room duty.
Often we’re going round handing out marker pens because they still having marked all their kit with their initials.
Sometimes we’re checking they’ve tied their laces properly. They very often haven’t.
Then of course there’s often a lot of banter. I love to have a giggle with the kids. But it’s very much on the teacher’s terms.
The kids aren’t talking to one another. Kids will get a demerit if they’re dawdling, if they talk. Kids who ignore teacher instructions twice will change back into their uniform and miss PE. They know the expectations and the consequences.
Its a nice atmosphere. You may be imagining something else. That’s because you haven’t seen it.
when everyone is changed we go down four flights of stars in silence. We keep to the right all the way.
We line up in silence, eyes front, in the yard. 60 boys, 60 girls, give or take.
We give a pep talk. We remind pupils that the journey to Powerleague, in the shadow of Wembley Stadium, will be in silence.
At this point if a pupil ignores a teacher twice he could also be sent back to change and therefore miss PE.
The Michaela ladies leave first. Our kids know ‘dames d’abord’. The Michaela gentlemen follow them. Everyone remains eyes front, single file, no one speaks. Teachers call out, ‘Close the gaps, Close the gaps!’
When all pupils are on Olympic Way, boys’ line next to girls’ line, we jog, very gently, to Powerleague. We stay head to head, parallel, silent, regularly stopping, one line of 60 boys, one line of 60 girls.
Teachers will issue demerits. A child can still be sent back to school. The teachers jolly the kids along. The kids are very proud.
Nobody has ever seen anything like this. The kids are phenomenal. Every single week members of the public stop, stare, point, smile, congratulate the kids and teachers, even take photos. The kids beam!
Nobody talks. The journey is completed quickly and efficiently. We reach Powerleague. Time for another pep talk reminding Michaela kids how unique they are. They’re top of the pyramid. Top of the pyramid people make the right choices. They turn heads. “You just saw how the public reacts to you.” 120 kids moving as one, parallel lines, eyes front, giggling at the nonsense their teachers say to jolly them along. But the kids don’t talk to one another en route. They know the consequences.
From September 2016 we’ll be doing this three times per week. By September 2018 we’ll be doing this five times per week.
The return journey is very similar and starts around 3.35. Every week each year group has 1.30 to 4.00 devoted to sport once per week. They get changed quickly at the start and end of the session. They travel quickly, jogging as they go. We try to maximize time spent running around, having fun, doing sport.
If you know any really bright sports teachers, with massively high standards and loads of charisma, who believe that academic achievement is more important than sport but that sport should be a vehicle to develop character, if that sports teacher has an excellent academic pedigree and would want to teach an academic subject to the very highest standards, as well as coordinate sport, if that sports teacher likes the sound of discipline, efficiency, grateful, super polite pupils, if that sports teacher reads Michaela blogs and thinks -Wow!!! I love it!!!
Tell him, or her, to get in touch!