EFDS Board member Liz Neale wins Sports Teacher of the year
The eighth annual Aviva/Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards followed a gala luncheon at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. The School Sport Matters campaign, instigated by The Daily Telegraph seven years ago with Aviva as a sponsorship partner, celebrates everything that is exemplary in school sport and physical education. Among the winners was Liz Neale, EFDS Board member, who picked up the School Sports Teacher of the year.
The level of interest in 2012 was astounding – thanks in no small part to the influence and inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – and gold, silver and bronze medallists from both attended as presenters and award winners. Former Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell and England Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood were the afternoon’s compères.
Male and Female Students of the Year were categories with powerful entries. Winner of the girls’ award, presented by poster girl Ennis and triple Paralympic equestrian gold medallist Sophie Christiansen, was cyclist Lucy Garner, a student at Countesthorpe Community College in Leicestershire, who became only the second woman to win back-to-back junior road race titles after securing gold at the World Championships.
Plymouth College’s Ruta Meilutyte, 15, the Olympic gold medallist for Lithuania in the 100m breaststroke at London 2012, was commended, while Natasha Farrant, 16, an outstanding left-arm swing bowler at Sevenoaks School and this season’s leading wicket-taker for the First XI boys’ team, was highly commended.
In the Male Pupil of the Year category – awarded by Paralympic gold medal sprinter Richard Whitehead and Norwich City and Northern Ireland footballer Paul McVeigh – Tom Daley, the diver from Plymouth College, emerged victorious.
Meanwhile, swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, winner of the Excellence in Disabled Sport Award in 2007, has since become something of a national treasure.
Last year, Zoe Smith was the School Sport Matters Awards Female Pupil of the Year. In 2012, after capturing the hearts and minds of the nation, the 18-year-old weightlifter became a household name.
At yesterday’s ceremony, Smith presented the State School of the Year award – with swimming legend Duncan Goodhew – which went to St Lawrence Academy in Scunthorpe.
Goodhew said that the academy has “generated cultural change and shifted attitudes”. The PE team were nominated by one of their pupils for their exceptional dedication – not only for arranging sports tours and awards but also for building a bespoke curriculum with Scunthorpe United FC, allowing pupils to train there, organising sporting festivals and offering work placements for pupils who want to experience a career in sport.
Commended was Streetly Academy in Sutton Coldfield, who had organised the entire school roll of 600 pupils, plus support staff, to spend a day at the Paralympic Games. Highly commended was Skegness Academy who, at a time when government funding to schools has been cut, reached out to other schools in their area, resulting in more than 2,500 primary-aged children participating in sports activities at the Academy.
Plymouth College, Daley’s alma mater, won Independent School of the Year – an award presented by
Dr David English and Harlequins and England Six Nations star Nick Easter. The school had an exceptional summer, with four current pupils competing at the London 2012 Games, resulting in one Olympic champion, one bronze medallist and two eminently commendable personal bests.
Excellence in Disabled Sport – overseen by Paralympic cycling quadruple gold medal-winner Sarah Storey and her husband Barney – went to swimmer Hannah Russell of Kelly College in Tavistock, who won one silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympic Games, having been selected as recently as May 2012.
Contribution to School Sport, presented by Olympic bronze medal-winning high jumper Robbie Grabarz and Ian MacGregor, editor of The Sunday Telegraph, went to Malcolm Bailey, a football coach who has dedicated 37 years of his life to Charterhouse School and its sport with passion and enthusiasm.
The Primary School of the Year Award, running for its second year, was presented by Olympic 400m gold and silver medallist Christine Ohuruogo and Shadow Minister for Sport and MP for Eltham, Clive Efford. The title went to Woodlesford Primary School in Leeds, which created the Spirit Alive programme, a multi-skills competitive achievement day which is now being rolled out nationally.
Elmley Castle First School in Pershore, which offers a variety of sports to pupils, was commended; while Pallister Park Primary in Middlesbrough was highly commended for serving one of the most deprived areas in the country, where life expectancy is significantly lower than the national average.
Pallister Park is reversing that trend by putting sport, health and diet at the core of the school’s ethos.
Efford commended the Telegraph’s Keep the Flame Alive campaign, highlighting concerns about the future of school sport. “How do we ensure that the excellence represented here today becomes the norm?” he asked.
“I know many school sports organisers, teachers and partnership development managers are working hard to ensure that sports coaching in schools is of the highest standard and to increase participation as well as encouraging competition.
“But these are challenging times. We have seen nearly 40 per cent of school sport partnerships disappear. Where local authorities, schools and individuals get [funding], sport is thriving.
"But I was extremely concerned to read that Mo Farah’s former PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, has taken to after-dinner speaking to raise money to plug the gap in local sport funding provision.”
Aviva Unsung Hero – presented by Ade Adepitan and Aviva’s global marketing director Jan Gooding – went to Darren Padgett, a former head of PE who founded a sustainable model for investment in sport in Barnsley, supporting schools who otherwise would not be able to provide it. Padgett also spends his time lobbying to protect school sport. In the words of Gooding he is a “total hero”.
So, too, is the swimming team from Warwick School, who swam across the Channel and back to raise £20,000 for a cancer charity. They took the highly commended award.
The School Sports Teacher of the Year award – presented by triple-jump legend Jonathan Edwards and Will Bayley, the individual silver and team bronze Paralympic table tennis champion – went to Liz Neale, who has been committed to the development of sport for disabled children for over 30 years. Liz has been involved in our events programme for decades. She has been committed to bringing many teams to a variety of events every year.
The Team of the Year – awarded by Paralympic sprinter Paul Blake and Harlequins forward Pete Browne – were Dulwich College First XV, who this year won both the St Joseph’s National Schools Rugby Festival and the National Schools Under-18 Cup, an “amazing achievement”, according to Greenwood.
Aviva’s Gooding outlined the importance of the campaign. “The Daily Telegraph remains the only national newspaper to dedicate coverage to school sport,” she said.
“Sport is incredibly important to us at Aviva and we are committed to developing the best of talent from playground to podium. As well as entertaining us with moments of glory and triumph, we are well aware of the health and social benefits of playing sport at school.”
Sunday Telegraph editor MacGregor added: “The collaboration between Aviva and Telegraph Media Group is one we value highly and enables this campaign and awards ceremony to flourish.”
Aviva and The Daily Telegraph, recognising tomorrow’s champions today. Email your letters on school sport to firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapted from the Telegraph article