Judges praised the "sense of enjoyment" in the sports programme at Orchard House, a 3-11 co-educational school in London.
The school was commended for the way it incorporated sport into the curriculum during the national lockdown to boost pupils’ wellbeing.
Drawing on research from the Mental Health Foundation, which showed that mental health problems affect one in 10 children, the school decided to combat the uncertainty of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic by emphasising sport and fitness.
The school day begins with activities such as games, swimming, fitness or running. Each session focuses on the values of honesty, respect, responsibility, equality, kindness and achievement, all of which help to develop pupils’ citizenship skills.
All major sports are on offer at the school, as well as judo, fencing, Ultimate Frisbee, bootcamps, cross-country, modern educational dance, hip-hop, ballroom and Latin dance, yoga, table tennis and table football.
Many pupils have gone on to obtain sports scholarships at leading senior schools, while the school’s netball team finished in the top four in the country at an Independent Association of Prep Schools competition.
Staff support the sports ethos by taking part in football, Ultimate Frisbee, rounders, cricket and a dance group that performs for the children at Christmas. Pupils can also take part in house competitions, while the school hosts various tournaments to enable local schools to compete in a range of sports.
Orchard House was one of the first to field a mixed rugby side at a local tournament. The school also fielded mixed teams in cricket and rounders matches, so pupils could compete as equals.
Lead judge Richard Walden said: “There is a wonderful sense of enjoyment and participation in sport at Orchard House, with great commitment from all staff, including the head. The PE teachers continued to offer a strong programme during lockdown, which maintained the great contribution to pupils’ good health and wellbeing that the school’s sport always makes.”