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Fitness of Isle of Wight kids bouncing back after lockdowns

THE dedication of schools across the Island in helping their pupils emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic physically and mentally fitter and healthier, has been recognised with awards of the prestigious School Games Mark Award.

Three periods of lockdown for youngsters, which began in March 2020, had a drastic effect on their physical fitness, the government and the country’s Chief Medical Officer has said.

The award, suspended throughout the pandemic, has since been reintroduced and, thanks to the support of the School Games Mark (SGM) initiative and the organisers, such as Tony Harris and Andy Day, who make it work, the problem is now being properly addressed. 

Before Covid, the Island had achieved great success, with the number of schools applying for and achieving the government-led SGM, many at gold level and two of them platinum, namely Greenmount, in Ryde, and Queensgate, East Cowes.

During the last academic year, the trend continued, with many more schools applying for and gaining platinum and gold level status. 

The SGM was launched ten years ago to reward schools committed to the development of PE, school sports and physical activity, and with links to the community. 

The SGM, awarded at gold, silver and bronze level — with platinum recently introduced for schools who consistently maintain the highest standards — which allows schools to evaluate their PE provision and helps them develop an action plan for progress. 

To attain platinum, eligible schools must have attained five successive gold awards, and are asked to submit a detailed case study, along with a supporting paragraph from their School Games organiser, to achieve the elite status. 

This year, the platinum awards were handed to nine schools, with Greenmount and Queensgate successful for a second time. 

The other winners are Nettlestone, Newchurch, Niton, The Bay Primary, Gurnard, Barton and Carisbrooke primary schools.

Some 16 schools also achieved gold, with many of these looking to apply for platinum next year, with one gaining silver and six bronze.

“It is very important to be physically active — especially after the lockdowns, when activity levels plummeted,” said Tony.

“Schools are very much at the forefront of helping children to meet the Chief Medical Officer’s target of being  physically active for 60 minutes every day.”

The School Games initiative has been in operation since 2011 and aims to provide opportunities for children to take part in sport and physical activity, by holding competitions and festivals across a range of sports and fun-based skills festivals. 

This year, 500 children took part in the IW Peach Games, while 140 from 14 primary schools crossed The Solent to attend the Hampshire Multi-Skills Festival in Winchester. 

Tony and Andy deliver events throughout the year, across the KS2 age groups. 

These range from traditional sports, such as basketball, to Invictus sports, like Boccia and new age kurling, for example. 

Alongside this are development programmes for teachers, and a sports leadership programme, to help develop the coaches and teachers of the future.

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