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Jumping up and down for sport

Bog-standard comprehensives are fighting back. David Henderson reports from a landmark conference hosted by North Lanarkshire

"Ah cannae dae that" is an attitude physical education staff at Braidhurst High in the Forgewood area of Motherwell are attempting to counter with a pound;100,000 a year investment in sport.

One of three sports comprehensives in North Lanarkshire, the once-threatened secondary is fighting back with new strategies in an area of "mega deprivation", according to Derrick Hannan, the highly praised headteacher of the 540-pupil school.

Almost half the pupils are entitled to free meals, and many harbour low aspirations and would never venture as far as Bellshill.

Ruth Anderson, principal teacher of PE, said: "Our children will not go to the next town and are very insular. But I think we are getting them more motivated and confident and raising their aspirations. I want every youngster to experience success."

Ms Anderson has received two extra members of staff, equivalent to 1.6 posts, and has introduced two periods of core PE throughout the school - with class sizes of no more than 20, a long-cherished dream for the PE profession.

The pound;100,000 investment by the Scottish Executive has funded equipment for the PE department and matting for feeder primaries.

"Trampolining has taken off. Girls come in at lunchtimes wanting to jump up and down," she said.

Girls' football, rowing, boys' rugby and lunchtime table tennis are other initiatives, along with dancing sessions run by the girls before school, during lunchtimes and after school. Twenty senior pupils have signed up for the community sports leader award.

"Some I would never have described as sporty but these young girls are absolutely tremendous," Ms Anderson said.

In another part of the scheme, 25 primary teachers have been attending twilight classes on teaching PE. But Mr Hannan accepts that developing the community dimension is more challenging in an area with few clubs.

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