Newbattle Student Learns to Love School

Ever felt that school had nothing for you? Thousands of pupils do and they are just waiting for the day when they can leave, while some are not even attending at all and risking imprisonment for their parents. As we recognise that schools should offer a developmental process that isn’t restricted to acadaemia, projects involving gardening, outdoor activities and sport are beginning to appear.

One of these is the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme, delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust and a Newbattle Community College Student has just been awarded student of the year status.

16 year old Conor Fitzpatrick was often absent from school, where he lacked confidence around his peers, felt embarrassed to speak up during lessons and found it difficult to engage with educational activities.

Yet, it was evident to his teachers that as a bright, creative and sporty individual, Conor had the ability to shine in the classroom and engage more with his fellow pupils. Conor was encouraged to participate in the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, which is delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, by the school’s PE staff. They recognised it offered a great opportunity to improve Conor’s sense of self worth by giving him the chance to achieve something tangible through sport. They believed that doing so would improve his overall attitude towards school and teach him to understand more clearly the consequences of not attending.

The school introduced a weekly scheme to deliver sports programmes to primary school pupils, with particular emphasis on teaching, coaching and leading activities. The scheme saw Conor instruct groups of younger pupils in a clear and confident manner. Conor was handed the responsibility to motivate and mentor the younger pupils, which he excelled in. He showed fantastic enthusiasm and was not afraid of making mistakes, which was evidence of his progress and rising confidence.

Conor told us, “The first few minutes in front of the groups was quite frightening as they were all staring at me, but after that I was fine and grew to enjoy what I was doing a lot”.

Conor thoroughly enjoyed the series of weekly sports programmes and responded well to his instruction and listened well. He interacted with all groups and was not afraid to put himself centre of attention. Conor added, “I really enjoyed coaching the younger pupils and being in charge. I felt really comfortable when I was leading the activities. It was a really satisfying and rewarding experience”.

As part of the scheme, the pupils received a visit from former Commonwealth silver medal-winning gymnast, Steve Frew, which proved to be an enormous source of inspiration for Conor. Steve’s own stories of struggle through school and lack of confidence chimed with Conor’s experiences, and hearing how Steve overcame those obstacles proved inspirational.

Conor said, “I loved the visit from Steve Frew. He was such a cool guy and it was inspiring to hear how much his story was like mine. It was about building confidence and overcoming fears that might hold you back at school. But now I feel more confident and focused about my future”.

Since participating in the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative Conor has got involved with the school Basketball Academy. This sees him coaching lessons on a weekly basis. Since taking part in the initiative Conor’s attendance has been excellent, and his teachers are seeing a big improvement in both his attitude and the quality of his school work. He has learnt the value of his education and aiming to be the best he can be. Now Conor is determined to maintain his positive change in attitude and learning.

So much so that he intends to progress his education through college and continue playing basketball to the best standard he can.

Published by

Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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