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10 Sep 2019
Toolkit launched to help schools 'reframe competition'
By Tom Walker
Toolkit launched to help schools 'reframe competition'
The toolkit was developed by children's charity Youth Sport Trust

An interactive toolkit has been launched to help schools in England reframe competition in school sports.

Developed by children's charity Youth Sport Trust (YST), the launch follows a successful 12-month pilot delivered through Sport England’s National Lottery investment in the School Games.

In 2018, YST commissioned research of global and domestic practice in consultation with key stakeholders – such as national governing bodies of sport and school games organisers – which explored possible alternative competition formats to engage and develop different audiences.

The research identified themes looking at widening the competition environment to develop "character and life skills", adding fun elements to engage new audiences, and expanding the competition environment to improve health.

Utilising the research findings, the charity launched a pilot across 10 areas in England involving more than 2,000 young people.

The pilot looked to ascertain whether changing how competitions are designed and delivered – by putting the motivation, competence and confidence of the participants at the forefront – had an impact on participation.

Young people involved in the pilot reported increased engagement and enjoyment, increased skill development and quality of gameplay.

They also experienced an increase in their confidence to take part in sport, with three quarters of young people involved saying they would like to use the new approaches all the time.

The toolkit is now being rolled out to allow schools to trial and adopt the new practices (to view the toolkit, click here).

“No longer can we ignore the fact that youth sport experiences have a wider role to play than finding the next Olympic/Paralympic champions," said Emily Reynolds, head of sport at the YST.

“Delivered well, competition can be fun, engaging and developmental. The barriers to competition being enjoyed were regularly noted as the pressure, and aggressive behaviours displayed by peers and teachers in competition environments.

"The innovation seen during the pilots demonstrated that by clearly defining the purpose of the competition, a wide range of young people could recognise and celebrate their individual and collective success, increasing their enjoyment.

"During a basketball competition, young people scored points for competition of skills challenges, the result of the match and also their demonstration of values. This resulted in multiple and varied young people being celebrated.”

The toolkit comes at a key time as the government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan is encouraging the sector to build on the recommendations of Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey.

Insight from Active Lives showed that only 17.5 per cent of children are meeting the guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.

• To view the toolkit, click here.

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