Discussion around sports in British schools often conclude that children don’t do enough of it, particularly in secondary schools. There are plenty of schools that are trying to change that, and here are just some of the unique sports that they are offering to get pupils excited about exercise.
Ultimate, more commonly known as Ultimate Frisbee, is becoming increasingly popular in schools due to its low start-up costs and non-contact nature. The aim of the game is to pass the Frisbee to a teammate in the opposing end zone, thus scoring a point for your team. The UK Ultimate Schools association organises a variety of tournaments for school teams to take part in, as well as training the GB team for international competitions. Frisbee just got serious!
Egg and Spoon Race
Almost every primary school sports day in Britain involves an iconic test of speed and skill: the egg and spoon race. Contestants must complete a 100-meter dash whilst balancing an egg on a dessert spoon held out in front of them as they run. It is against the rules of the race to boil the egg prior to competing. The first person to cross the finish line with an intact egg is declared the winner. Eggcellent.
En garde! Fencing is a popular sport in British schools, most especially in public schools. There are a variety of competitions available to schools, including the British School Team Championships and the Public Schools Fencing Championships. Fencing can be practised with various different weapon styles, with Epee, Sabre and Foil being the most popular in schools. The sport is a great way for pupils to learn discipline and precision, as well as exercise and have fun.
With a lot of schools looking for new ways to mix up the physical education curriculum and get as many pupils as possible interested in sport, dance classes such as Zumba are becoming increasingly popular in schools. Incorporating steps from hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo, Zumba is a high energy class that can be set to chart toppers in order to get teenagers excited for exercise. A lot of schools are seeing wider participation in PE after adding popular fitness classes such as this to the traditional sports curriculum.
Trampolining is often one of the most anticipated sports classes in schools, giving students the chance to have fun and blow off steam as they work out. Having a qualified instructor is important for this one, as it is a high impact sport, but pupils are very enthusiastic about it when it is available. From doing backflips and somersaults to simply bouncing, trampolining benefits from being a lot of fun no matter what your fitness or skill level is. A good sport for getting pupils jumping with excitement when PE participation is low.
Often played in Irish schools, this team game has ancient Gaelic origins and tends to be popular across the entire community. The objective of the game is to use the wooden hurley stick to hit the ball between the opposition’s goalposts. Above the crossbar scores the team one point, and below the crossbar into the net that is guarded by a goalkeeper for three points. It is very popular, with a large number of pupils in Ireland playing the game during school PE lessons.
Clay shooting is quite an unusual sport to be offered at school, but several private schools give their pupils the possibility to learn how to shoot. It is usually offered to a small number of students as an extracurricular activity, rather than taught en masse during school sports lessons. Some schools offer specialist tutoring in clay shooting, and even have teams that compete nationally.
Equestrian pursuits such as dressage, polo and general horsemanship aren’t widely offered in schools, but they are quite common in schools with horse livery facilities. Some public schools have equestrian centres that are British Horse Society certified, and provide expert tuition right through to Fellowship level. They often have options for both pupils that own their own horses and ride year round, and those that wish to take lessons during term time.
One of the more unconventional school sports offerings, Hartismere School in Suffolk was part of a Sky Sport Living for Sport project that taught pupils how to wave-board. The sport is a form of street surfing, which combines skills from surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding. The project targeted disengaged pupils and aimed to get them involved in an unusual sport that would allow them all to start from the same level.
Sometimes offered as part of a private schools’ sports syllabus, fly fishing is particularly popular at all-boys schools. Whether offered during school hours or as an extracurricular club, it aims to introduce younger fishers to the art of fly casting. Some schools even run expeditions that allow pupils to use the skills that they have learnt.
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