What they did
Sport improves academic achievement and a 10-year partnership between Wright Robinson and Manchester Metropolitan University shows just that. Their joint research found that physically active pupils get higher grades at GCSE than those who are less active.
Sixty-two per cent of physically active pupils achieved five or more A*-C GCSE grades, including maths and English, compared with 38 per cent of those who were less active. The research also showed that activity increased pupils' confidence.
The research has enabled staff to target pupils. One project included unconfident girls and built up to a weekend where they were encouraged to take part in outdoor activities.
Wright Robinson is sharing its experience with other schools and has pioneered a PE curriculum to bridge the gap between primary and secondary. The school had also previously suffered from high rates of persistent absence and the project has helped to engage pupils.
About 10,000 children have been involved in the project, which began in 1998. Pupils are still enthusiastic about it. Year 10 pupil Marjan Ghiassi-Farhani said: "The trip to Ghyll Head (in Cumbria) was brilliant. We did activities such as kayaking, gorge scrambling and abseiling. I felt comfortable doing the activities as all the girls on the trip were like me."
What the judges said
The judges noted the effective partnership between the school and the university, describing the university as "an excellent prefect". They said the research provided long-term, serious evidence and praised the involvement of disaffected pupils.
You could do it too
There are many national and local initiatives that aim to encourage greater participation in sport, including the Youth Sport Trust (www.youthsporttrust.org). Other schools in this category targeted disengaged pupils with free gym sessions. Some younger pupils were given special PE lessons to increase their concentration and ability. One school equipped pupils with pedometers to record the number of steps they took each day. Another, despite not having a playing field, became the only school cricket team in its county league.
About the awards
The TES Schools Awards, or TESSAs, celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of teams making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sectors. This year's event attracted hundreds of entries and the panel of judges was impressed by their range and quality. Next year's TESSAs will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on June 17, 2010 and is open for entries at www.tes.co.ukawards.