A case for support

The IDPE’s Louise Bennett provides a narrative template, and Tonbridge Grammar School’s Pippa Blackstone shows how to put it into practice

1 We’re a successful, inclusive and forward-thinking school. Briefly underline credentials, which might involve performance and results, or the diverse and complex nature of the school community and the barriers you are overcoming.

2 With this track record of achievement comes a responsibility to think about how we can continue to expand and enrich our provision to meet the needs of our pupils and community. This can be expressed more concretely if you have drafted a new strategic plan, have a new head, are building on an anniversary or are responding to a particular local need.

3 Our vision now is to extend our achievements into the following areas. These will be different in each context, but the effect should create a holistic vision that reflects school strategy.

4 If we can do this, we’d expect to be able to achieve these outcomes. These need to be specific – explaining the benefits to pupils and stakeholders, including the wider community – not just a new resource for the school itself.

5 We’re hugely excited by these opportunities, but we’ll need help to realise them. Our next step is to share them with our community and gather ideas about who might be able to help us achieve them. Showing that you are open to outside input and dialogue is an important message to send – even if you think you are certain about what you want to do.

The case for support for an all-weather sports pitch at Tonbridge Grammar School

Pippa Blackstone, director of development and alumni relations

Tonbridge Grammar School (TGS) has an urgent obligation and opportunity to secure significant improvements to its outdoor curriculum and recreational sports facilities to benefit generations of future students and young people in the community of Tonbridge, Kent.

As an International Baccalaureate World School, TGS enjoys an impressive academic reputation, and offers an exceptional education to young people from Tonbridge and Malling, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells council areas. As a DfE Academy, the school’s funding is drawn from central government grants. 

Our aim is to ensure that every student benefits from an educational experience that builds the confidence and self-esteem that is so important for physical and mental wellbeing. Securing facilities that are fit for purpose and inspiring is critical to these ambitions.

Financing outdoor sport is extremely challenging: capital developments are not affordable from the government grant allocated to the school and academy capital grants are available for indoor facilities only. The school has raised the funds required to transform outdoor sport at TGS entirely from private philanthropy.

Sport at Tonbridge Grammar School

Both governors and staff recognise the critical role that sport, and specifically team sport, plays in developing and promoting health and wellbeing. They want our students to benefit from an engaging team sports programme that develops sports and leadership skills, nurtures resilience, confidence and self-esteem and builds foundations for a healthy, active adult life.

At TGS the aim is to provide a varied physical education experience, accessible to everyone regardless of ability. All students are encouraged to participate in team sports, with regular inter-house sports competitions a feature of our enrichment curriculum. TGS also competes in a wide variety of competitive school sports, including hockey, netball, football, rugby, cricket, tennis and athletics, enjoying considerable regional and national success. A focus on team sports not only encourages intra and inter school competitions but also provides a springboard to out-of-school sports clubs, which extend and develop sporting skill.

All this is achieved because we have highly experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic specialist sports staff who, with the support of volunteers and student sports leaders, provide an enriching co-curricular sports programme including clubs and match training.

Sporting facilities

At present, the school has a large grass field laid out for hockey and field sports. The pitch is poorly drained and sloping so that it becomes waterlogged and dangerous to use during periods of wet weather, or cracked and pitted during dry weather. In addition to the large field, there is a single hard court, which accommodates one match-size court for netball, or two netball training spaces. In summer, the space accommodates two tennis courts. The condition of the field pitch means that the teaching of advanced skills in sports, including hockey, is not possible. This disadvantages TGS students in their preparation for local, regional and national competitions.

The school also has a small dance studio and a purpose-built modern sports hall large enough to accommodate four badminton courts.

The impact of an all-weather pitch

  • Quality and consistency of PE curriculum lessons will be transformed by the year-round availability of an on-site floodlit, short pile, artificial turf sports pitch
  • No disruption to curriculum PE learning caused by the condition of the field
  • On-site play will make sport inclusive for all
  • Wider access and vastly improved quality and extent of enriching co-curricular sports opportunities for all students
  • Far-reaching measurable benefits associated with student health and wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem
  • A reduced logistical burden for parents and students as sports activities are in school, enabling all students who want to get involved to have the opportunity
  • Increased opportunities for competitive intra-school sport and inter-school sports competitions
  • Engagement of the whole school community in sport through supporting, team hosting and spectating, as well as playing
  • Sport will be truly accessible to all.

To quote Sport England: 'Sport can be a powerful force for good... It can enrich you personally, enhance your community and contribute to the economy.' – Sport England: Towards an Active Nation 2016 to 2021.

This is an edited version of the full case for support

  • The IDPE’s free toolkit for state schools is available at idpe.org.uk

Developing a case for support was outlined in our autumn 2021 edition.