We all have a greater understanding of inclusivity when it comes to teaching children, aware that every child deserves the right to enjoy and take part in every session, with adaptions and differentiation planned for to ensure this takes place. But, do we know how to do this when it comes to our sports days? Rewind just 20 years ago and the ‘traditional’ sports days where children raced against each other, with only the fittest and fastest rewarded for their efforts, were the norm. Nowadays, schools know this isn’t always the best way, but what is? In this blog, we will look at some of the ways your next sports day can be inclusive and enjoyed by all.
A great way to ensure all your pupils’ needs are being met is by creating a sports day council. This should include pupils from different year groups, with different needs, interests and talents. This council can then have an input on how to organise the event, what sports to include and how to make sure they fit everyone’s requirements. If you carry out your sports days over multiple days (if you have a large school for example), then these council members can even help run it on the day their class isn’t competing.
Think outside the box when it comes to the sports or games on offer. Consider if all the activities you are offering can be adapted to every child’s needs and even think about developing your own inclusive activity that you know all your pupils will enjoy. These activities could be introduced prior to the event through PE lessons so that every child is familiar with the skills required and able to take part fully on the day.
Another effective method of ensuring your sports day is inclusive is by including paired or group activities. Does a sports day always need to be just individual events, or could you encourage teamwork and team games too? Children could work together to complete orienteering challenges, as well as in the more common relay events. This provides a great opportunity to teach children how to work together under pressure and how to use everyone’s strengths to succeed.
Splitting pupils into houses or teams is a long-standing tradition for sports days that actually lends itself well to running an inclusive event. Pupils are pushing themselves individually to win their races, whilst also gathering points for their entire team. This means that if a child doesn’t win a race of their own, or even if they are unable to take part for whatever reason, they still have the chance to win overall. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how encouraging and motivating your teammates can be beneficial for all. Just be cautious when splitting the children that the teams are fair!
The main thing to remember is that you know your pupils, and you know how to ensure every child feels included and valued. It might take a bit of creative thinking and a break from the norm for a sports day, but it is surely worth it if every child can enjoy and thrive in their events.