Teacher Talk

Bernard Clarke is the principal of King Alfred's Community and Sports College in Wantage, Oxfordshire
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The Independent Online

What were the specific benefits of becoming a sports college?

What were the specific benefits of becoming a sports college?

The most immediate benefit was access to more resources. Of course, these extra resources don't come without strings; we must meet specific targets, but the actual process of establishing new targets has been a tremendous lever to improve standards and monitor the quality of teaching and learning.

Have you seen improvements in student performance from the additional funding and facilities?

Students are performing better, but they may have performed better anyway, even if we'd never become a specialist school. Specialising has certainly greatly assisted the development of a school ethos that includes every student. It is compulsory for students to take part in PE, so being a sports college helps every one of them. It is also a subject that students enjoy. Having involved students helps in all areas of the curriculum.

Do you think sports schools are able to attract the best students?

The evidence so far at this school, as has been found at other schools, is that we have remained the school for the local community. We select 10 per cent of our students, but our central purpose continues to be to serve the community.

Have you changed school meals to encourage healthy eating?

We have moved strongly towards providing healthier eating options for students. Providing a healthy school experience for young people is an integral part of the sports college ethos. We are concerned about the overall well-being of our students, their health and enjoyment of education - which is just as important as the number of student's getting five A* to Cs.

Do you think children are doing enough sport in your school?

Certainly, it has become possible for children to participate in more sports and with better facilities - but whether students are doing enough sport is a difficult question. There is a limited amount of time in the school day and there are many different possible divisions of this time; you could say that they never do enough of anything.

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