Ross Williams, our Strength and Conditioning Coach talks about his role at St David's College and how we are continuing to provide for our pupils by embracing technology to maintain their physical and mental well-being.
I came to St David's College as a 1st class Honours graduate, very technically minded from an Elite Athletic Development background. I believed that the principles of Strength and Conditioning could be well placed in a school environment, and upon meeting Mr Lycett I was able to implement this.
My first thoughts and ideas of how this could be achieved were, as you can imagine, traditional; groups, fixed times, set constraints, you may even say my beliefs were rigid. What I discovered is that it is less about models and progression, but more about exposure to movement. Children do not fit into boxes and nor should they.
The St David’s environment has opened up a path where the Physical Education of students is holistic and all members of the department operate on an equal footing. As a team we have a combined experience of nearly 40 years. We work together for the betterment of the students, creating a model that can prove the test of time. A model, I believe, that has far-reaching possibilities.
St David’s College is unique. The same freedoms that are given to students, allowing them to grow, flourish and explore are also accessible to staff. This freedom is vital in developing what we have and how I see my role at St David's College. Children here are passionate and driven. Mr Lycett is an inspirational leader, he is a sounding board, a guide with no rigid and set parameters, this allows us all to be creative and explore the avenues that have led us to this exciting point.
We have a saying in the department “Embrace the Chaos”. We do not have to control, manipulate and mould every second of a session. Instead, we nudge, guide, question and listen. From this, we can gain so much more from our children, it frees them to learn and not just be taught.
Everyone is an athlete and should be treated as one. Athletic development is about unlocking the potential in each individual. Not solely the development of their capabilities to perform in sport or competitive environments. The only goal is engagement, this is set by the parameters of what they as individuals wish to do and what they can do. The individual is key to me and St David’s.
With the recent events, the spotlight has turned to simpler things. Health and physical fortitude cover the papers and social media and are prized as highly as toilet roll! Due to our unique approach to PE and our investment in the individual (read my article on the approach we take ) we were more than prepared for the present situation.
As a school we have an in-depth understanding of all of our pupils, enabling us to meet the individual needs of the SDC family. I have implemented the use of the Teambuildr app which creates the foundation and launch pad for the students, allowing them to access a bespoke training program (at this time 70% of students take part in this service). This has morphed from an athletic and movement approach to an avenue that supports students with challenging physical activity. It has also allowed us to monitor mood, wellness and create an opportunity to support the students in these challenging times.
Social media allows students to share their experiences with the rest of the student body, keep in touch and engage in the fun challenges set by the department. Using Microsoft Teams we are continuing to deliver our KS4 and KS5 courses as well as keeping in touch with the broader pupil body, whether it is to review their fitness programme, share exercise videos or just to keep up moral.
The present will affect our future but based on the sound foundations of SDC we will emerge bigger, better and with the pupils at the heart of our provision. This is the way we should engage with the children of today, the St David’s way. In a nutshell, we will Never, Never Give up. Just because we are not in St David’s doesn’t stop us being St David’s.
Keep up to date with what the PE department are up to and take part in their challenges by following their Instagram and Twitter Pages
Also, check out their guide to finding routine during the Easter Holiday
Please note that the pictures are from our archive and were taken before social distancing measures were put in force.