Pioneering partnership nets sports equipment for Birmingham schools

PUPILS are set to ace their game after a tennis equipment lending library was launched in a pioneering scheme which has helped transform two Birmingham schools. A thousand pounds worth of equipment is now available on loan to pupils at Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary School, both run by CORE Education Trust.

The kit, which they can borrow to use to play tennis in their own time at home or in their local park with their families, was unveiled on Thursday (June 16th) at the two schools during a visit by the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) President Cathie Sabin.

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It comes after the two schools, which sit opposite each other in Naseby Road, Alum Rock, were among just 21 schools across the UK to have been named a School of Tennis in March2016. The scheme is to be rolled out to 150 schools across the UK by 2018 and has been backed by the LTA.

The initiative, by leading charity the Tennis Foundation, aims to radically change the way tennis is delivered in schools – making it more relevant and engaging for children from all backgrounds while also attempting to rid it of its elitist image.

In April, education watchdog Ofsted credited this partnership with the Tennis Foundation and the LTA as being among the “pioneering” work which has helped to remove Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary from special measures.

Both schools have now been deemed by Ofsted as ‘good’ - the best rating Nansen has achieved in its entire 90-year history.

LTA President Cathie Sabin said: “This tennis programme is a true example of the transformative power of sport offering students the opportunity not just to play tennis at school but develop a whole range of life affirming skills. 

“The School of Tennis initiative aims to transform how tennis is delivered in schools.  At Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary they are using the programme to broaden the horizons of their students and to provide access to a range of experiences beyond their local community.

“The tennis programme will also enable the students to gain access to and expertise in tennis and offer a range of leadership and enrichment opportunities for students. I was thrilled to be able to visit both schools to see the programme in action.”

Under the scheme, teachers have been trained to be tennis coaches while a REBO tennis wall has been installed at Rockwood Academy and pupils have become tennis ambassadors.

Adrian Packer, CEO at CORE Education Trust, said: “We were absolutely delighted to have received a visit from Cathie Sabin to show her how committed and passionate we are about giving our pupils access to tennis.

“I don’t want our students to have the misconception that tennis is an elitist sport that is only available to a privileged few.

“The Tennis Foundation is bold and uncompromising in its aspiration to make tennis accessible to young people from all backgrounds and we are proud to support its important work to broaden and strengthen tennis participation in schools.

“We are equally proud that this partnership has helped us on our journey of improvement, which has seen both schools being removed from special measures and rated ‘good’ by Ofsted – an incredible turnaround in such as short space of time.”

Fuzel Choudhury, Principal of Rockwood Academy, said: “We are always striving to give our pupils the very best education across the curriculum.

“Being a School of Tennis opens so many doors to pupils who may otherwise not have experienced or have had access to the sport.

“The new equipment will make a real difference and will undoubtedly help them to grow both in terms of their abilities and their sense of pride.”

Nansen Primary School’s Head Teacher Cath Rindl said: “We were thrilled to have been rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and we are thankful for all partners who are working with us to help improve the prospects of the communities we serve.

“At Nansen, while we always aim for academic excellence, we also work hard to develop our pupils holistically.

“Music, arts, sports and cultural opportunities are so important in helping them to become rounded and confident young people.”

The equipment is being loaned to the Trust in association with Surrey-based Qualco, a leading provider of panel and asset management software and analytics.

Christian Jacob, Managing Director at Qualco, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this worthy cause.

“It has been great fun to go into the schools and meet the students who will benefit from the new lending library.

“We hope that the local community is inspired to play more tennis more often.”