In the 12 years since Highfields School Sports Leadership Academy was established, more than 400 members have given more than 20,000 hours in volunteering time.
As one of the leading schools in the Derbyshire Dales, the Matlock school is one of five hub secondaries in the Rural Derbyshire School Sport Partnership with a cluster family of 13 feeder primaries. We form part of the Young Ambassadors Programme and the School Games programme.
Our vision is to create a leadership pathway from primary school all the way through secondary school, giving our young leaders opportunities to volunteer within school and the local community. Three of our students and a member of staff were Games Makers at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Our students in all years work closely with local primaries leading and marshalling festivals, tournaments and games, enabling the running of a year-round inter-school competition calendar across rural Derbyshire, culminating in teams attending the annual Derbyshire School Summer Games. Our students are also mentors to the primary schools’ Playmaker Leaders.
The school has established many links both locally and nationally. We have become a leading centre for Sports Leaders UK for both students and adults. In a rural area like the Derbyshire Dales, recruiting coaches, delivering Sports Leaders UK and NGB awards and creating club links is vital for supporting school sports provision and extending the sports leadership pathway beyond school.
Dave Savidge Sports Leaders UK’s Regional Manager says, “Sports Leaders UK is proud to support Highfields School as an official Leadership Academy because the school consistently delivers high levels of leadership throughout the school and beyond the school gates. The staff and students from the school go the extra mile to develop leadership and volunteering whilst having a positive impact on the local community. The passion for leadership within this school is inspiring”.
This passion and commitment meant that in 2010 the Academy was awarded the Queens Award for Volunteering, the MBE for Groups and Sports Leaders UK World Centre status in 2011. The Academy piloted the Energy Club programme for Sports Leaders UK and two of the schools ambassadors presented a taster to MPs at Westminster.
Students are involved in many Youth Sport Trust national initiatives such as SkyLiving for Sport, Get Set and GetSet to Make a Change, Lead Your Generation, Change 4 Life Champions and KS3 girls’ projects.
We were recently selected to be one of only 15 schools in the UK to take part in the ‘Commonwealth Class’, linking 11 schools across the globe in the run up to Glasgow 2014. This builds on our amazing experience as a World Class Olympic Dream School. In 2011 I visited St John Fisher School in Brisbane, Australia and received a reciprocal visit and progress report when the Olympic Torch Relay came to Highfields. Two of the Academy ran with the torch and I had the honour of running with the Paralympic Torch in recognition of my volunteering work.
Highfields Headteacher, Eddie Wilkes, sums up our achievements, “We have been delighted with the impact the Sports Leaders programme has had on our students and within our community. The programme includes the youngsters in planning and delivering activity sessions to each other and to our primary cluster pupils. They develop communication skills that will support them in a wide range of settings and develop confidence that goes through all aspects of their life , enhancing self esteem and underpinning future successes . Teachers, parents and pupils in our primary cluster schools recognise the positive impact the scheme has for our primary pupils. Over the years it is those very pupils who have gone onto become the sports leaders of the future, and so the programme goes from strength to strength.”
Hayley Entwistle was a member of the first ever Sports Leadership Group at Highfields. Now 27 years old and a Clinical Psychologist, she says: “It gave me confidence to lead groups. I went onto work in a children’s holiday club one summer. It helped me to develop skills in communicating information and adapting my communication to suit different age groups.”
Stephanie Jackson–Horner (now 25 years old), former Derbyshire Sports Leader of the Year says, “Sports leadership gave me ideas, confidence and skills that I have used at Bedford University, in my many coaching jobs, numerous interviews and every single day as a PE teacher.”
Lindsey Pearson (24), another former Derbyshire Schools Sports Leader of the Year, who now coaches in the Derbyshire Dales, says, “It built up my confidence and leadership abilities and I had the chance to do many things I would never otherwise have done like the Step Into Sport Camp at Loughborough, meeting many new people and making friends.”
23 year old Becky Hinchley, also a previous winner of Derbyshire Sports Leader of the Year, who has been back at Highfields coaching and mentoring for the past two years, says, “Sports leadership has taken me all over the world, coaching and leading activities in China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.”
Level 4 Football Association Referee Jamie Kernaghan (aged 22) says of his experience at Highfields, “Throughout my childhood and school life I always had a passion for sport. Sports Leaders enabled me to direct that passion into coaching children to hopefully inspire and foster the same passion that I had at that age. The volunteer hours I amassed allowed me to enrol at the University. Sports Leaders gave me a strong foundation to build upon and I feel it has helped me while doing my PGCE. Perhaps most of all Sports Leaders gave me the confidence to do what I really wanted with my life – without it, I would not be in the position I am now.”
London 2012 Young Ambassador, Sam Mak (21) says, “Sports leadership has taken me on an incredible journey over the years, from assisting at local primary schools games to sitting on the London 2012 steering group where I continued to promote leadership and gave many speeches to thousands of people including Government Cabinet members. It gave me so many opportunities and life skills and memories for the rest of my life. I will never forget the journey it has taken me on.”
East Midlands Young Volunteer of the Year 2013, Abigail Akehurst (19) says, “It has given me confidence, the knowledge to deliver speeches and lead sessions to 5 years old as well as to members of parliament, Lords and Ladies – incredible experiences that I am not going to forget.”
17 year old Andy Brough is one of our current crop of Young Ambassadors. The Year 12 student says, “It has made me confident to interact with people and I have gained new skills and qualifications and lots of experience.”
Jayne Allen, School Sport Coordinator, Highfields School, Matlock, says: “I have no doubt that the Sports Leadership programme has had a huge impact on the school, community and students. The students’ stories speak for themselves and this year’s Sixth Form interviews, business leaders noted that you could tell which students were Sports Leaders. I have a huge passion and belief in the programme which equips future generations with invaluable skills for life and a belief that it is important to give of your time for others.”