Karting can inspire students who avoid sport to get back on track
Children in cars may not sound like a physical education strategy that schools should be embracing, but this is what we are doing at our school as part of a wider sport strategy.
It all began with an increasing awareness that many of our students found it really difficult to get motivated to take part in sport. In response, our sports department introduced the Play your Part initiative to get more children involved in extra-curricular activities across our academy trust.
Each student gets a Play your Part card, which is signed by the leader of each extra-curricular club they attend. Once they have received five signatures, they are entered into a prize draw to win an iPod Nano and sporting gift vouchers.
The scheme has been a great success, encouraging many students to have a go at a sport they may have never tried before. This spirit of exploration encouraged us to increase the variety of activities available, so that those who had previously shown little interest in participating had the chance of finding something to suit their interests.
Without doubt, one of the most exciting and best received of these new activities has been the British Schools Karting Championship (BSKC). This is the largest schools karting competition in the UK, and it offers schools and colleges the opportunity to take part in motorsports. A key advantage of the BSKC from a school's point of view is that students do not need any equipment or previous experience to get involved.
For the 2013 championship, we entered 15 children with a wide range of academic abilities into the competition. Students signed up who had been so inactive in sport previously that I had never come across them as a physical education teacher.
The competition was unbelievably popular - it seems that few can resist the roar of an engine and the burning of rubber. Some of the students who applied were among the school's more colourful characters, and had a history of misbehaviour in class. The promise of being involved in a karting championship provided a valuable incentive to these students to behave and to become more active: knowing that their participation in the event would be at risk if they misbehaved motivated them to stay on track. Involvement in the competition also provided them with some attention in school that was positive for a change.
Karting also had a beneficial effect on participants' self- confidence. A 15-year-old girl took part in this year's competition who was very shy, but the experience of working with a team in pursuit of a common goal really helped her to grow as an individual and she is now more willing to get involved in other activities. It has also benefited how she interacts with others.
Another advantage has been the result of the BSKC being contested by teams rather than individuals - participants had to learn to work together. They discovered the value of persistence, practice and patience, which are important skills in life as well as on the racetrack.
It is my firm view that participation in any sport helps children to grow in stature in all aspects of their lives. For this reason, we will continue to offer a variety of activities to students so that they have a chance to discover their gifts and talents, whether they are on the rugby field or behind the wheel in a kart race.
Amanda Black is assistant headteacher at Skegness Grammar School in England, part of the David Ross Education Trust
Top 10 car-related resources
1. Under the bonnet
Give your students access to this wide range of workbooks, covering various aspects of motor vehicle skills from key processes to tools and maintenance.
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