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Leeds leads the way

David Geldart, head of PE at St Mary's RC Comprehensive at Menston, near Leeds, speaks of the importance of "pathways" and "exit routes" for students, and is adamant that a PE department cannot work in isolation. There is a point when even the very best PE teachers cannot do any more. Excellent young athletes have to be extended, so the next stage - the exit route - has to involve trusted outside agencies, club coaches and governing bodies.

The national lottery has had a startling effect on governing bodies in most sports, shaking them out of complacency. When a bid for lottery funding is being prepared, a governing body must show evidence of a well-organised pathway system that talks about ways into sport for young people.

Mr Geldart works with two conceptual models: the usual pyramid of progress to excellence, and a linear participation model, encouraging long-term involvement in a sport .

He stresses the importance of creating a safe environment where children, especially in team games, are not afraid of making mistakes. "We might say, 'That's fine, but next time why not try this?' You build stepping stones, moving towards better technique, better understanding - and enjoyment."

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