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Meet super coach Sue Hutchings

Development Lead Officer, David Turner blogs...

Bovey Tracey Primary School

For my latest coaching children blog I have an interview with Sue Hutchings, a fantastic and inspirational coach, not to mention a reigning World Champion too, who works in a Primary School in the South West.  I spoke to Sue to find out more about her work and how she feels the role of a coach in a school can be vital to the effective and sustainable use of the Primary PE and Sport Premium and of course making children’s lives happy, healthy and successful.

1. Sue, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I have been sports mad all my life. The only teachers I remember from school are my PE teachers. At primary school every lunchtime the boys played football, One day I asked to join in, the head teacher said No as girls don’t have football boots. I promptly ran home, grabbed my brother’s boots and ran back with them. He couldn’t say No, and that was the start of everything. I was 8 years old.

I played football, hockey, netball, rounders, cross country, cricket. I never sat still, if I wasn’t out running, I was cycling, throwing and catching a tennis ball or kicking a football against my neighbour’s wall! Much to their annoyance.

I took up coaching when I was asked by North Devon College to run their hockey teams. I really enjoyed the challenge of turning individuals into teams, and passing on my enthusiasm and love of sport.

I became a Level 3 Hockey coach, and over the years teams I coached reached National Indoor and Outdoor finals and a number of players gained International honours.
I have run multi-skills at Bovey Tracey Primary School for 17 years when I moved down from North Devon. It started off as 1 after school club, but 3 years ago I was asked to cover maternity leave, and organise all the sport. I ran 2 more after school clubs and a lunchtime club. I linked the school in with the local School Sport Partnership and started to enter all the festivals and events they put on. Anything that came along we entered. In our first year we won through to the Devon finals in Quad Kids athletics and Cycling. The children were hooked.

I still play as much sport as I can, I recently played for England Masters Hockey, and last year I won a Masters Gold Medal at the World Lifesaving Championships in Montpelliar, France. It seems weird being a World Champion at my age but Masters sport is growing and I intend to keep playing.

2. Can you describe a typical day at work at Bovey Tracey Primary School?

Mornings is usually admin, getting letters out to parents, dealing with consent forms, checking we have entered all the events, then it’s a lunchtime club, netball, tag rugby, football, athletics, depending on the time of year. There is an afterschool club every day of the week, for years 2 – 6, and football squad training on Fridays. Most weeks there is a festival to go to, run by our local partnership, Dartmoor SSP, or by Tom Hayne our local Sainsbury’s School Games Organiser.

We aim to take as many children as want to go, sometimes taking up to 8 teams. It’s not just about the winning, although that is always our aim, it gives all our children the chance to take part, understand the importance of being active and healthy, the value of team work and seeing that sport can make you new friends. All of our children are incredibly proud of the schools sporting achievements. During the summer term, every child in school goes swimming at our local open air pool for 3 mornings a week. I go with them, teaching lifesaving to the older children

3. How has the Government’s Primary PE and Sport Funding changed your role over the past 2 years?

The funding has enabled the school to employ me for more hours, running all the clubs at lunchtime and afterschool. As well as the above activities, we have entered the football league, the netball league. I look after all the kit, making sure balls are pumped up etc and the cupboards are tidy.
I help the staff with written resources and ideas for their lesson plans.

4. Can you explain how your Headteacher has been able to support your role?

The Headteacher Miss Julie Dyer has been fantastic. It was her idea to bring in a sports specialist, realising that having active healthy children impacts on their school work and attendance. The children want to come to school and want to be involved in the sports clubs. Every club is over subscribed.
Julie announces all successes in assembly and praises children for effort and sportsmanship as well.

5. How have you been able to ensure a sustainable legacy for the school through your work, thinking about the children but also the teaching and support staff?

I work closely with the teaching and support staff. I help them with resources for lesson planning, although I don’t cover their PE lessons. We communicate really well, which enables the whole school to understand and know, what is happening and going on, so everyone is prepared. Dates are planned in advance and booked onto the school calendar. All staff have a good understanding of the School Sport Partnership and how it works.

6. What elements of your success do you feel other schools will be able to quickly emulate?

Enter everything, it’s not just about winning, that will come with time. When we won the year 3/4 and 5/6 partnership cross country, I took 60 children to the event. Only the scores of the first 3 children in counted, but that didn’t matter to the boy who came 89th, he still felt like a winner. The next day, the children were so excited there a buzz about the school, and the staff couldn’t get any work done until break time because all they wanted to talk about was the cross country.

I also gave each class a bucket of tennis balls with lots of activities to do. Teachers take the children out for 10-15 minutes, 3 times a week and their hand/eye coordination skills have massively improved, having a knock on effect in all sports that they do.

7. Finally, what is your favourite part about coaching at Bovey Tracey Primary School?

I enjoy being with the children, making them laugh, making me laugh, seeing them take pride in themselves, their friends and their school.
It’s not just coaching, its cajoling them to believe in themselves, that no matter how good or bad they are, they can still enjoy sport, being healthy makes you feel better, gives you confidence, and helps you make and keep friends.

Please do let me know your thoughts and comments through email [email protected] or on Twitter @David_T_scUK. If you do use Twitter, don't forget we have organised a Thunderclap to promote our Coaching in Primary Schools Portal, please support us by signing up!