Active Schools Series - Parkinson Lane Primary

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Parkinson Lane Primary School is a large three-form entry school in Halifax, West Yorkshire. They were the first Calderdale School to become part of the Creating Active Schools programme in 2021 where staff immediately implemented the concept of active registers with pupils performing simple moves such as heel-raises or squats whilst waiting in line. This resulted in children becoming more aware of how small changes in activity can benefit them and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

Committed to Physical Activity

Parkinson Lane has chosen to support their commitment to being active by investing in whole-school training. This has included whole staff training for Active English and Maths where pupils are active as part of the learning, e.g. when learning about right angles in maths they are given a piece of card with a right-angled shape and go around the classroom finding as many items and objects as they can that match the shape of the card. Sports leaders have had training from ActivAll, a company that produces interactive boards that are put into playgrounds. Lights or symbols flash up on the boards in a myriad of different sequences and players react as quickly as they can to touch the correct light in the correct sequence. Sports leaders are also trained to deliver a range of inclusive Panathlon games which children, across the school, partake in every morning before school begins. Panathlon is a series of activities specially designed for children with additional needs.

"With an aim to increase the activeness of children at break and lunch times, Sports leaders have had training from ActivAll to help children use the boards to enhance participation. The boards encourage competitive play, quick reaction times and coordination. We also train our sports leaders to deliver a range of inclusive Panathlon games which children, across school, partake in every morning before school begins.

Miss Ahmed - Deputy Headteacher

The school has also invested in a package of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and resources for cross-curricular orienteering where pupils learn the concept and skills of orienteering in PE lessons. This has enabled them to utilise the skills across the whole school curriculum, which in turn has seen an increase in activity across all areas of learning.

"The lessons are extremely engaging, and the children are active throughout the whole lesson. Lessons are observed and child interviews are carried out to monitor the success of the programme. Cross-Curricular Orienteering covers Maths, English and Science as well as having blank cards so that teachers can create orienteering lessons for any subject."

Akhtar Hussain - Assistant Headteacher

Before, During and After School

Parkinson Lane’s extra-curricular offer is exemplary. Every day there is an offer of activities before and after school, as well as during breaks and lunchtime. Training also takes place during these sessions which has led to sporting achievements throughout the key stages. Staff are encouraged to support extra-curricular activities, whether they be in physical activity or other areas, a concept reflected in the school’s recruitment process. This high level of commitment is valued by the children, and they appreciate the time staff give to lead clubs outside of school hours. 

"The whole school ethos is centred around physical activity and wellbeing, and how this enhances learning and achievement. Every single member of staff is invested in supporting pupils to be active and to enjoy the benefits of fitness and the life skills that come from being active and participating in sport."

Thomas Wood - PE Lead and Assistant Headteacher

The support for physical activity isn’t just limited to the children. Since 2011, Parkinson Lane has offered a weekly fitness class to the mums of pupils which is well-attended and appreciated. The ladies in attendance say that the class has helped them to appreciate the power of activity and the benefits it has to improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. They also receive information about food and nutrition that they apply to create healthy meals for their families. Perhaps most importantly of all, they agree that the weekly sessions provide them with an opportunity to enjoy the company and friendship of others.

"We have a real sense of community. We exercise, chat and laugh together. It’s very special and we’re so grateful to Nikki (Nicky Goldthorpe, the school’s PE Specialist) and the school for doing the classes."

"Nikki teaches us about food and nutrition which is really helpful when it comes to preparing food at home for the family."

"We can get weighed each week if we want to. You don’t have to, but I find it really helps me to focus on what I eat."

Fitness Club Participants

Centre of Excellence 

This wider community appeal and the inclusive offer for children has led Parkinson Lane to be recognised as Calderdale’s second PESSPA Centre of Excellence. Awarded by Yorkshire Sport Foundation, this rewards schools for their commitment to offering a superb physical activity programme in areas including active learning, break and lunchtime offers, family and community involvement and encouraging active travel. 

Parkinson Road Primary School receiving their Centre of Excellence Award - Picture courtesy of @YorkshireSport on Twitter.

Sporting Success 

The school is very proud of their continued sporting success, participating in a broad spectrum of sports which staff are keen to ensure represents all children and avoids focussing solely on gifted athletes. Their Panathlon team in particular have enjoyed considerable success, crowned West Yorkshire Champions in 2022 and qualifying again for the finals in 2023. This unique competition is shaped for pupils with SEND and features participation in a variety of adapted sports and events.  Other successes have included medals and top-of-the-table placings in girls’ and boys’ football, cricket and tennis and in two more adapted sports, boccia and new-age kurling, further enhancing their policy of inclusive activity. 

"I love going to Panathlon club, it’s helped me to get better in PE. When we went to the Finals it was scary, but it made me feel really confident afterwards, I was really proud that I’d done it."

Panathlon Club Attendee, Year 5

Sport and activity forms part of Parkinson Lane’s whole school behaviour policy where participation is seen as a privilege that can be withdrawn if behaviour is anything but exemplary. Pupils are fully aware of this, and the policy helps to enforce the high standard of behaviour, attendance and application visible throughout the school.  

Investment in Staff Wellbeing 

Staff wellbeing is of paramount importance and when the school received it’s third consecutive OFSTED grading of ‘Outstanding’, Headteacher Gugsy Ahmed rewarded the staff by converting the school’s old loft space into a fitness suite and a wellbeing room. The small but well-stocked gym has a range of cardio-vascular and resistance equipment, whilst the large and airy wellbeing room with its comfortable sofas and tapestry-hung walls offers a haven of peace and relaxation to help staff unwind. There is even a sauna for those who want the ultimate stress release. Funding and maintaining such treats is done through strategic budgeting and careful costings prior to expensive building or maintenance work and these approaches are backed by a fully supportive and hands-on Board of Governors. 

Such concern for staff reflects the school’s ethos of care, the aim of all staff and children being to support each other and themselves to be as happy, healthy and successful as they can be, and the success that Parkinson Lane enjoys both in and out of the classroom reflects the impact that this mindset has when applied consistently and by all.

The Creating Active Schools programme is free of charge and fully supported for all schools in Calderdale. If you would like more information or to get your school involved, please contact Rebecca Antcliffe, Active Education Manager Rebecca.Antcliffe@calderdale.gov.uk