Leeds Rhinos Foundation excited for new school year

As school children begin to get back into the routine of school life, Leeds Rhinos Foundation is preparing for another exciting year working in over 75 schools in the city.

Although much of the charity’s work was put on hold during lockdown, staff have continued to support the schools they deliver in by setting the children physical challenges which they could complete at home.

Gareth Cook, Head of Community and Engagement at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said: “All our staff who work in schools have built up excellent relationships with staff and pupils and they wanted to be able to support them during the tough lockdown period.  Each of them made their own videos setting the children with some skill-based challenges to encourage them to stay active at home.  We have had some amazing feedback from the schools who have said teachers and parents have found them useful and the children have been completing them.”

Now the staff are able to return to the schools, Cook said they can’t wait to get back to delivering their multi-sport sessions.

“We have been back in our schools this week and I know our staff have been looking forward to returning to what they love doing. There will be some adjustments in regards to working with smaller group sizes, social distancing and following new school guidelines but we are confident we will still be delivering fun sessions that will keep the young people active. We will be doing some virtual tournaments in the West of Leeds and will hope to role these out across the city during the year.

“It has been really encouraging to see more children take up more physical activity, such as cycling and walking, during lockdown and we hope we can encourage to keep up their new habits. 

For some children though, they may prefer the routine of physical activity at school or being part of a team so it will be great that our highly trained staff are  able to support schools by offering this.”

The government recently announced that schools in England will benefit from £320 million from the PE and Sport Premium during the new academic year.  The Premium is designed to help children get an active start in life, supporting primary schools to improve the quality of their PE and sport provision so that pupils experience the benefits of regular exercise.

Cook believes this funding shows just how important PE in schools is for children’s development.

“The funding is a big boost and a clear signal of the government’s priorities around the health of children.  Sport can have a positive impact on people’s lives both physically and mentally exercise and can lead to improved behaviour and better academic achievement, so we are pleased that funds are being dedicated for sport in schools as we feel we can make help support schools in this area to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

For more information on Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s work in schools, please email gareth.cook@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.