Northumberland schools called to give children more choice in sport by Handball coach

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Local schools in Northumberland are being urged to further opportunities for young people by engaging with different, more inclusive sports – as girls in particular ask for more choice and more playing time as part of PE.

During National School Sports Week, efforts to tackle inactivity levels are seeing sports that offer more inclusive routes to play grow for PE teachers and school-age sports coaches, to ensure children aren’t left behind because they can’t engage with the mainstream sports.

Significant hours of PE having been lost from the curriculum, with the amount of PE and sport in secondary schools in England falling alarmingly over the last decade.

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The top request from girls surveyed nationally to improve their engagement was for more sport options to choose from – giving rise to fast growing participation sports like handball which allows full physical literacy of run, catch, jump, throw, offers a team sport and is fully inclusive to introduce young people to activity.

Girls playing HandballGirls playing Handball
Girls playing Handball

With nearly two thirds of girls (64%) wanting to be more active in school but faced with barriers that stop them taking part, such as not being confident and being watched by others, Development Coach Annica Farley is pushing for specific provision to remove barriers from the early years.

Reflecting on sport in schools, she said: “I've seen that if you take a one size fits all approach, kids don't want to take part. They will stay at the back of the class, won’t want to be a volunteer. Accessibility is key, sports like handball where there isn’t a burden on schools for lots of equipment, or complicated rules. It’s about play and constant movement.

“I think it’s so important for children to try and find what works for them, but that starts with giving them the option to fall in love with more than just one or two select sports. For me personally, I had tried everything, but struggled to really engage with certain sports – handball became my passion because of how inclusive it is and how easy it is to bring the game to others.

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“Physical Education in schools is huge for a child’s wider development – not just physical literacy but creative thinking, visual awareness, verbal communication. I am still yet to go into any school where children or teachers have not loved the chance to do something different, and where sports like handball can really unlock something special.”

For schools to learn more about giving their pupils more opportunity to play, visit https://englandhandball.com/teach/

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