January 5, 2024 12:44pm
Rochester Grammar School become the only school in the South East to receive the top accolade of the AfPE Quality Mark.
Rochester Grammar School (RGS) in Kent is overjoyed to have been awarded the highest accolade of the Association for Physical Education (AfPE) Quality Mark, gaining a Distinction during their validation visit. The AfPE Quality Mark is a prestigious award that evidences the strength and quality of Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity (PESSPA) within a school. With this achievement, RGS becomes the first school in the South East to receive this award and one of only 17 schools nationally.
Leading on the campaign to achieve this award, Rochester Grammar’s Curriculum Lead for PE, Vikki Bell, said: “My heart sank when the news headline came out that there had been a decline in enjoyment in PE for girls. RGS has 1,004 girls aged 11-16-years old with an additional mixed sixth form, and the buzz and engagement in PE, Sport, and Physical Activity defies the negative stigma that the media portrays.”
Since joining the school two years ago, Vikki has worked with the PE Department to prepare for the rigorous self-review process and to ensure that the school is delivering the highest quality curriculum for all students to access and progress in. When speaking about the process, Vikki commented: “I know as a department we are very forward-thinking and our curriculum reflects a new model that may not be happening in many other schools, but what I did not realise until the validation visit, and what inspired me the most, was the impact we have as a department on our students.”
The PE department spent the last 24 months overhauling and creating a new PE curriculum with the vision; “To ensure that every student is physically active, knowledge rich, and has a variety of opportunities for healthy participation in PE, Sport and Physical Activity.” The school believes it is important for students to access the “education” in Physical Education, so designed a curriculum that not only focused on the physical but embedded the knowledge and understanding for students to live happy, healthy futures by being physically active. The curriculum is delivered through five overarching topics; Invasion Games, Net & Wall, Creative, Personal Best and Striking & Fielding - allowing students to experience a breadth and depth of opportunity to participate in over 21 sports throughout their time at The Rochester Grammar School.
Student Voice has been pivotal in developing the sporting opportunities offered at the school and this has contributed to 100% of students participating and engaging in PE lessons. Students bring their kit to each lesson, are enthused, and enjoy PE. Attendance at extracurricular clubs, where students get the opportunity to consolidate their curriculum journey, continues to grow, with over 750 students participating in PE clubs last academic year. At KS4 and KS5, the school saw incredible examination results in the summer, with 67% of students receiving a Grade 7 – 9 at GCSE PE and 100% of students receiving a Grade 5 – 7 at IB Sports, Exercise and Health Science.
Vikki reflected: “The student voice meeting left me speechless with goosebumps. The passion and appreciation for PE within the school was clear to see, the positive impact on behaviour, attitudes, self-esteem, wellbeing, attendance and the confidence the students had talking about the subject made me beam with pride.”
The school put together “Team PE”, a large group of students who really reflect the values of the PE Department. They are a diverse and inclusive group of students, ranging from those with poor mental health, challenging behaviour, and special needs to the most able and confident sportspeople who embed and value the PE Department. They have pin badges for their blazers for the various sports they have represented RGS in, and Team PE t-shirts to reflect the team ethos. When speaking about the team, Vikki commented: “The students blew away our validator with how they articulated their feelings about the department, the passion they had, and the true belief in the teachers that inspire them each day to support with “being their best self”, it was clear to see the impact the department had on the students.”
The school received glowing feedback from the process, including the following being highlighted by the validation panel:
Discussing the process, Vikki says: “I will be honest, the Quality Mark process is not for the faint-hearted, it is for those that are willing to showcase what they have on offer and are able to react positively to constructive feedback. The self-review process is rigorous, it allows you to reflect on every component of your curriculum to ensure you are having an impact on your students, not just in PE, but in every aspect of their education. I would highly recommend the process to secondary schools, as it validates the hard work and commitment of a PE Department, as well as raises the profile of PE, Sport and Physical Activity.
“I am very proud to say, that The Rochester Grammar School achieved the AfPE Quality Mark with Distinction, the only secondary school in the South East to currently hold this accolade. Our application was also sent to the Department for Education as a model of good practice – hopefully quashing the myth that girls do not enjoy PE!”