How do we keep our pupils active in a world full of ever-increasing distractions from exercise? Our Deputy Head (Co-Curricular) Dr Nicholas Grigsby speaks about educating and influencing pupils about exercise starting from within the classroom.
“We try to think more intelligently about every child, and not just use them as fixture winners,” says Dr Nicholas Grigsby, Deputy Head of co-curricular at Stonyhurst. “We take the importance of exercise back into the classroom — how it affects us not just biologically, but our mind, body and soul. Our pupils are really well informed about brain chemistry, how they tick, what the optimum amount of sleep they need is and so on. Then we ensure they are not corralled into limited or gender specific sports options — we have things like aqua fitness alongside traditional team sports — and back this up with top quality coaching and mentoring.”
As a mixed school, Stonyhurst finds today’s pupils have much more gender neutral ideas about who should do which games, and boys and girls are often found playing cricket and netball alongside one another.
The other thing that has been transformative at Stonyhurst, says Dr Grigsby, has been inviting able young sports people with respected profiles — “influencer types” — to speak to the pupils not just about their sporting ambitions and achievements but about the challenges faced along the way. This has included depression, positive role models and how you see yourself, and every speaker has been happy to come in for free. “They are just desperate to share their story with young people,” explains Grigsby. “This has been absolutely massive, and we found it’s led to much higher engagement.”