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Dame Kelly to judge TES awards

Double Olympic gold medallist joins panel to find country's best school sports initiative

Olympic-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes has joined the judging panel for the first TES Schools Awards to find the country's "outstanding sporting initiative" in schools.

Dame Kelly, who won gold medals for 800m and 1,500m at the Athens Olympics in 2004, works tirelessly on campaigns to inspire and motivate young people to lead a more active lifestyle.

She will join educationists Sir Tim Brighouse and Sir Cyril Taylor, and celebrated chef and food writer Prue Leith, on a panel of 14 experts looking to reward outstanding teamwork in education.

"What would stand out for me is a great school partnership," she said. "I like it when schools take charge to make a difference not only within their own school, but by working with other schools, too.

"It's one thing if your school does well, but if it expands into other areas - like a partnership with other schools or working within the community - everyone can benefit."

As the government-appointed National School Sport Champion since 2006, Dame Kelly works to promote GirlsActive, an extra-curricular programme to encourage more girls to enjoy sport.

"Initiatives like this encourage schools to look at the bigger picture," she said. "I've seen after-school clubs for street dancing, rock climbing, cheerleading and so on."

Dame Kelly said it was vital that parents knew which activities children took part in at school. She believes that the Government still has work to do to increase parental involvement.

"I've seen kids who are great ambassadors - they perform well in all areas at school, not just sport," she said. "Parents should be told. They should understand what their children are doing and the difference they're making in school."

Dame Kelly said young people were better off today than when she was at school: "The kids have masses of opportunities," she said. "Fortunately, I had a motivated PE teacher who encouraged me to do things I wouldn't normally do."

After school, Dame Kelly joined the Army, where she became a physical training instructor. She said the role helped her to develop important life skills.

"We need not only to encourage children to participate in sport, but to develop their life skills and their ability to communicate."

TES School Awards, pages 26-27

On Camp with Kelly is Dame Kelly's mentoring initiative for talented middle-distance athletes.

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