End of a very long year!

Open letter to schools and parents

As we approach the final week of this academic year, we are reflecting on the many challenges faced and goal setting for the 2021-22 ahead.

I think we all hope that we will never experience another year in education like this and it’s a concern to us all the recent rise in Covid infections in London. We all want to return to life as normal but the reality is we’re going to be dealing with Covid-19 across our communities for some time to come.

Despite the lifting of restrictions this week, in my view remaining vigilant and keeping to our current risk assessment is as important now as it ever has been. I would prefer to be burning my pile of masks and never use them again but instead me and the team at Moving Matters will continue to be sensible to keep ourselves and the children we work with, safe.

As an organisation we are in a unique and privileged position within education, working across multiple schools, across multiple boroughs and it really does provide us with lots of perspective on what is going on and how it’s been managed.

Huge praise to all those in the school community for managing the most difficult of situations. One of the schools we work with had 32 staff off a couple of weeks ago, yet they remained open and offering education to the children in their care. One of the reasons I love working in education is because the people you meet and work with, are kind, generous individuals who fundamentally think about children first and their well being is of the utmost importance.

The pandemic has presented many challenges for Moving Matters and the restrictions in schools have limited the normal experience for a child. The result of staggered breaks has meant lots of lessons being taught inside, despite the better space and weather outdoors. The greatest challenge was taking PE delivery online in January and quickly transitioning from in person PE to virtual lessons with 30 children in their bedrooms!

It’s certainly not the easiest subject to teach virtually and we were keen to avoid copying Joe Wickes style HIIT sessions, instead using lots of our YouTube content to continue to develop key skills. We also did our weekly Friday workout with huge thanks to Glenbrook Primary school for hosting us.

It wasn’t perfect and not without it’s technical hitches but I was pleased with our offer and schools were grateful. Ultimately we endeavoured to keep children engaged and moving, at a time when activity levels suffered once more.

Our team have been absolutely fantastic in getting on and managing the ever changing environment, my thanks to them for being so brilliant and continuing to provide high quality PE and coaching.

· This year we have trained over 150 teachers, imparting our knowledge to develop the quality of their PE teaching through our Professional development service and inset training.

· In total we have delivered nearly 10,000 hours of PE lessons, working with approximately 3,000 children.

· We’ve delivered Maths on the Move to nearly 200 children, seeing maths confidence and attainment increase through this active and engaging programme.

· Our soccer school has seen over 100 boys and girls benefit from weekly high quality coaching sessions.

· Our holiday camps have welcomed over 800 participants with a potentially busy summer to come.

· Our short breaks programme for children with disabilities has re-started with great success, supporting existing and new families get a well deserved break on Saturdays.

There is lots for us to be proud of in 2020-21.

Our major commitment going forward is to positively influence more children, being more active, more often. In the last Sport England Active People survey 2019-20, just 22% of children access 60 minutes of activity each day and there is no question that this figure will have reduced further during the pandemic.

The only way we start to get on top of this inactivity crisis is through working collaboratively with schools and our local community in Lambeth and surrounding boroughs to improve the lives of young people.

Collaboration and strong working partnerships are key.

Looking ahead to 2021-22 we are excited to start working with a host of new schools, build on the great work in our existing member schools, integrate the use of the miMove app to year 5 and 6 pupils, start Marathon kids in all schools and bring back our competition offer.

One of our values is “We don’t stand still.” It embodies not only our individual commitment to being physically active but more importantly our drive to improve on what we do and increase impact. This coming September Moving Matters will celebrate its tenth anniversary, it’s been a brilliant decade with lots of great work done but lots lots more to do.

Wishing you all a fantastic summer.

Rob Wilkinson