What is your background in sport and teaching?
You could say that I was always destined to be involved in sport, both my parents played and coached a lot when I was growing up and were happy to take me to clubs and fixtures. My earliest sporting memory would probably be playing with my brother and our friends in a field at the end of our street, I was the youngest in the group and playing with older children meant I had to work especially hard to keep up with the standard. I fell in love with the competitiveness that sport can bring, I always wanted to be the best, and that challenge excited me. I started to play team sports around the age of 5 or 6, and really enjoyed the comradery and togetherness that this brought. To me, sport has always been a meritocracy and the gratification of experiencing a tangible result to hard work appealed to me.
As I grew up, I played a variety of different sports, I played country cricket through to the age of 16, was a part of the Harlequins Rugby Academy and represented England rugby across the different age group levels from under 16’s through to British Universities. Upon finishing my schooling, I was fortunate enough to be offered a professional rugby contract from Bath Rugby Club, this began a 5-year professional rugby career which included stints at Bath Rugby, Bristol Rugby, and London Welsh RFC. Alongside my job as a rugby player, I completed my BSc Sports Science degree at the University of Bath.
I retired from professional rugby in 2013 to embark on my second career as an educator and coach. Prior to joining ESM, I have taught at Brentwood School, Reigate St Mary’s and Colegio Craighouse in Santiago, Chile as well as coaching at Tonbridge School and Reigate Grammar School, I have also held coaching positions with Saracens RFC and Essex Rugby.
Is sport an important part of a pupil’s development?
For me, I believe it is absolutely essential and this is why we are fully committed at Eaton Square Mayfair to deliver a sports curriculum that has a “sport for all” ethos. We want every single pupil to participate in and enjoy a sport. Our philosophy is to encourage lifelong participation in sport, we hope that by exposing pupils to a wide variety of sporting experience we can unlock the potential of each pupil and help every child discover a sport that they can engage with and continue participating in sports beyond school.
We believe that sport can be a powerful medium through which pupils can develop those intangible values and characteristics that will help them succeed in the world beyond ESM, be it becoming a member of a team, pouring effort into something bigger than yourself and to deal with successes and failures together or dealing with failure, sport at ESM is a safe environment for pupils to develop these traits.
What sports can the pupils at Eaton Square Mayfair participate in?
At Eaton Square, students have one P.E. lesson and two double games lessons per week. During lessons, pupils will experience a dynamic and varied curriculum that is designed to promote a culture of physical activity, develop performance, and expose pupils to new and exciting sporting experiences. We understand that each child is different and will enjoy different things, we try to offer a range of different interesting sports such as rock climbing to encourage pupils to try sports that they have never tried before, and find a sport that they can enjoy.
The school is located in central London, so we have access to some of the best sporting facilities in the world, we want to use our location to our advantage by utilising the fantastic sporting opportunities that London offers, this year pupils have visited the Olympic Park, watched international Hockey and Netball fixtures, and attended the Varsity Match at Twickenham Stadium.
We ensure that pupils understand the theory of physical education, arming them with the knowledge and tools to exercise independently outside of school, this term all pupils have been designing ‘Personal Exercise Programs’, creating a fitness plan that they can complete at home. We hope to develop children with the enthusiasm and knowledge to lead an independent fit and active lifestyle.
How do you encourage pupils who usually do not like participating in sport?
Physical Education and participating in a sport are much more than incentivising winning.
By offering a wider variety of sports we hope that we can lead every pupil to a sport that they can enjoy. It’s not about winning fixtures or representing your country, of course, those things are fantastic, but we want to encourage every pupil to enjoy sport at their own level and for their own reasons.
We aim to make every single student feel comfortable and to understand that we all have different strengths. We ensure we have structures in place so that the sporty pupils can thrive, and other children feel comfortable at their own pace.
What is your vision for sport at Eaton Square Mayfair?
My vision to create a department that encourages participation among all pupils in the school, that offers pupils opportunities to engage with and compete in sporting activities, and that supports the performance goals of our competitive athletes.
Since the school inception in September 2017, the P.E. department has made some incredible achievements. I am sure that the department will develop and change over the next few years as we discover what works best for our pupils, we are in a really exciting position in that we have the opportunity to create a sports program from scratch that best serves our pupils.
We are in the process of creating the traditions that will hopefully grow as the school does. We introduced a new annual tradition of the whole school running Cross Country in their houses at Hyde Park. We are incredibly proud that over 85% of our pupils have represented ESM in a competitive fixture this academic year, with every single pupil in Year 7 and 8 representing the school against other schools. The school is continuing to build relationships with other schools to build up a strong and prestigious fixture list.
Outside of the timetabled sports lessons, we offer a fantastic range of excellent clubs that all pupils are welcome to join. Whatever one’s passion is, or wherever their interests lie, it is likely that we have a club that supports this.
Keep up to date with the sports department by following us on Twitter @Sport_ESM