A winning team at Thomas Wolsey School

AFTER an award-winning 2011, Chris Brammer finds out the secret of success at Thomas Wolsey School.

PE teacher Cathy Churchyard recalls the moment pupils from Thomas Wolsey School realised they were winners at the recent Nationwide Junior Sports Awards.

The school continues to excel in disabled sport and 11 pupils visited the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, before Christmas, where they received a bursary on behalf of the school, which will help support their on-going development in disabled sport.

The pupils have moderate to severe physical and associated learning difficulties and compete against children with similar levels of disabilities in sports such as swimming, boccia, netball, orienteering, table cricket and new-age kurling.

“The staff were stunned and the children, who gel so well as a team, went forward to collect the award as a team and their grins were just amazing,” said Cathy, who along with a number of other staff and volunteers, escorted the children to the presentation night in the north West.

Team Wolsey has been competing for many years in the DSE-run Festival of Sport, National Junior Athletics Championships and Junior Swimming.

While winning is important, much of the school’s philosophy is geared very much towards personal development.

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“We just encourage them to do the best they can and improve, but they do enjoy trying to score points against each other,” said Cathy, who has a support team of permanent staff and volunteers that aid the children at competitions and in school.

“Playing sport, they are building up their own skill levels and developing new ones such as how to work with each other as a team and how to develop strategies to outwit opponents.

“The level of disability varies. Certain children have very limited movement but, even so, when they are playing a game which involves rolling a ball down a ramp for instance, they still have to direct their helper where to aim the ball.”

Cathy, who also has a base at Suffolk One College, has been with the school since 1994 and delights in seeing the children, some of whom are at mainstream schools for the majority of the time, succeed in both competition and non-competition scenarios

“It was lovely to win the Nationwide award but the best reward is when something clicks for one of the children,” said Cathy.

“It might be something small like learning how to kick or throw a ball, which is important for them at home too, as they will then be able to play with their siblings and parents.

“I am so lucky, I can watch the children grow from the stage where I could probably cuddle them, right through to the stage where they are competing at national level or becoming sports leaders.

“The independence they gain and the sense of pride they get when they wear the team’s yellow and black sweatshirt is wonderful.”

n Last year proved to be a tremendous one for the brilliant Team Wolsey.

They competed in a number of sports, gaining success at regional and national level.

The team came sixth in the Regional Lord Taverners under-19 boccia competition.

They were also regional winners of the under-19 Table Cricket final, while no fewer than 32 gold medals were won by the team at the Regional Junior Athletics Championships. They also secured several silvers and bronze.

Five team members represented the East Region at the Junior Athletics Championships, and returned with two silver and one bronze medal.

The under-11 team were awarded the ‘Outstanding Team of the Event’ trophy at the Disability Sports Event Festival of Sport South in May.