In Early Years, Ballard pupils are taught by fully qualified PE staff using specialist equipment. We focus on fitness, gymnastics, and core skills. Movement is such a key area at this stage as it enhances both gross mechanical movement and finer motor skills which are essential to child development.
We therefore spend a large proportion of time working as a group and individually to ensure that the correct foundations are laid for all future sports – especially catching and running which many children find tricky.
One child who had poor co-ordination in Kindergarten is now in the Year 4 hockey team – so it is worth starting early.
Pupils receive a diet of individual sports and team games which concentrate on embedding the foundations learnt in Nursery. Many of the skills learnt are now identified as strengths and weaknesses with particular emphasis on improving body control and gymnastic movement.
In Pre-Prep we introduce two extra-curricular activities a week – skills clubs and fun sports. In addition to this pupils are given the opportunity (at a small additional cost) to join Ballard gymnastics After-School club.
Ballard has an extensive array of gymnastics equipment and a large Sports Hall which has enabled us to host the New Forest Gymnastics Festival for the last couple of years, welcoming 12 local schools.
Throughout the summer term children receive intensive swimming lessons to increase water confidence and refine their strokes. Certificates are presented at the Pre-Prep swimming gala and this year more pupils swam two more lengths than they ever have before.
Flexible streaming at Ballard (from Year 3) allows sport for all and ability-related lessons are modified as pupils improve. A focus on mixed gender games enables Ballard to stretch our able and talented pupils both physically and in their understanding of games.
The emphasis here is on learning the key skills and techniques of the core sports of hockey, netball, rugby, football, swimming, athletics and tennis and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to learn the basics.
The fundamental skills of movement are key to progression for this age group – allowing pupils to receive the ball in space, advance in attack and develop understanding of formations and team play.
By setting personal goals we encourage all pupils. One Year 4 girl who couldn’t swim when she joined Ballard a year ago has just taken part in the Ballard triathlon, to the astonishment of her parents.
New sports such as volleyball, badminton and basketball also develop core physical attributes and transferable skills which are essential for all sport. Exposure to alternative sports often highlights a child’s potential that may not otherwise be recognised.
Extra-curricular activities are offered throughout the week both at breakfast club and after-school activities. Over 12 pupils took part in the mini triathlon in 2018 having gained confidence in extra-curricular activities.
This is where we hone the skills previously learnt and can offer a higher level of competition and challenge. However, we can also provide a wider range of options and activities in this age group, thus giving individual opportunities for development as well as the core sports.
Ballard focuses on invasion, net and individual sports to encourage a high-level of performance whilst trying to reduce common mistakes often seen on the sports field. We have had many successes in tournaments and against much larger schools with this approach.
Within Ballard we have staff who have competed at a national level at sport and coach men’s and women’s teams to regional success. The guidance that is provided as mentors is invaluable to the key lessons that our pupils need to learn to compete at the highest level in and out of School. Many pupils at this stage go on to represent their county in a variety of sports including: athletics, triathlon, hockey, swimming, netball, rugby and football.
There are many extra-curricular sports’ opportunities available to pupils in order that they can develop their skills further.
At Ballard we continue to provide opportunities for a wide-range of sports but also encourage fitness and training. Our huge range of activities (currently in excess of 25) widens the appeal of sport to everyone.
With a specialist sports’ academy, sports’ prefects, sports’ scholars, and exceptional mentoring and coaching opportunities, we promote excellence in sportsmanship, independence and team play throughout.
For this age group pupils are encouraged to coach younger pupils alongside the PE team to develop empathy and understanding of what is needed to be successful in sport and the wider world. By providing this opportunity we see children flourish both as mentor and mentee with the older pupil in particular gaining a deeper understanding of the game.
Having opportunities to compete at a wide-range of sports at School gives them the confidence to extend their abilities and compete for development squads and senior teams.
The development of club links is incredibly important and we see many pupils strive to win places in representative teams for district, county and national level.
We also offer GCSE Physical Education where most pupils begin the course in Year 9; focusing on their selection of a mixture of team and individual sports.