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Outstanding Sporting Initiative

Winner: Gravesham Specialist Teaching Service, Kent

A new ball game, "Four Square Ace", was introduced to primary schools in Gravesham in Kent, transforming behaviour at breaktime.

Previously, playgrounds had been dominated by older boys playing football, and schools had frequently called in Jason Owen, of Gravesham Specialist Teaching Service, to help resolve confrontations.

Mr Owen decided that a new approach was needed, so he adapted a game that was already popular in the US called "Four Square" and taught it to school staff and local sports leaders.

The game is played on grids of four, and involves pupils bouncing a ball between them. Because the grids are only five metres square, schools can draw several in their playgrounds, allowing different age groups to play.

Four Square Ace caught on fast in 12 primary schools in Gravesham, the local key stage 3 Pupil Referral Unit, and a special school for autistic children, and all the institutions came together for an event to celebrate the game.

"Now, if I drive around Gravesham on a Saturday, I will see the game being chalked out on driveways and in parks, being played and enjoyed by children and their families," Mr Owen said.

Judges' verdict: "There was real innovation with this entry," the judges said. They loved the fact that the game was so contagious and had addressed behaviour problems, and liked that it was an activity that could be enjoyed by girls and boys alike.

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