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By GreaterSport | 11 November 2020 | TAGS: #GMSchoolGames, School Games, Children and young people, education, Covid-19

Covid-19 continues to change the way schools and young people engage with sport and physical activity. The Greater Manchester (GM) School Games Programme provides an opportunity for young people to participate in school competition, this year adapting to provide competition virtually.

The Greater Manchester School Games Organisers (GMSGOs) have built on the work done during the first national lockdown, collaborating to offer a range of virtual competitions for both primary and secondary schools.

The virtual competitions provide schools with flexibility to be able to run them in whatever format suits them; from personal challenges, intra school competition (class versus class) and inter school competitions (virtually compete against other schools). The competitions have been distributed across Greater Manchester via the GMSGOs since the start of the academic term and have been positively received by schools and young people. This approach enables schools to keep competition alive whilst maintaining social distancing and managing ‘bubbles’. Woodheys Primary School in Trafford have run three of the virtual competitions so far, with 376 children across the school taking part each time. They said;

"We found the resources very useful and easy to use. They act as a great guide to the implementation of intra-school competitions, we have had competitions between year-groups, boys vs girls, house competitions and individual/team-based scoring systems to promote both individual and team success.

"Resources like these are so important during this incredibly difficult period. It is imperative that within a school environment we safely encourage the power of sport, exercise and competition for both the physical and mental wellbeing of our children. The lack of grassroots sport only underpins the need for schools to engage pupils in sporting activities to ensure the physical health of the children. Moreover, children will be missing their weekend sporting and social endeavours, meaning it is crucial for schools to fill this gap as and when possible. To surmise, I feel strongly that every child should be engaging in such competitions, giving them the opportunity to shine and compete, but more importantly to have fun."

Further success has been seen across Greater Manchester with William Hulme School in Manchester engaging 880 students in the virtual running competition and a massive 4,500 young people taking part across Tameside, with the Tameside School Sports Partnership stating;

“It is the most participants we have had for an inter school competition ever.”

To further support the uptake and engagement in these resources, the Young Local Organising Committee for the GM School Games have created a short video to help schools understand how to use the competition briefs. This group play an integral role in ensuring that youth voice is at the heart of the GM School Games programme. Despite not being able to support the events in the way they had expected this year, they have still committed to helping ensure that schools and young people understand the great benefits that can be gained from getting involved with the School Games.

The GM School Games Network recognise that virtual competitions offer an opportunity to engage a broader range of young people with high quality competition.

“We hope that we can use this situation as a positive, to focus on increasing participation and fundamental movement skills whilst preparing young people in Greater Manchester for a lifelong love of physical activity.” Jess Simons, Active Children Lead, GreaterSport

The competitions support the Youth Sports Trust’s #BackToSchoolGames movement and ongoing approach to reframing competition nationally as well as here in Greater Manchester.

The virtual competition briefs can be downloaded here. Watch the instructional video from the GM Young Local Organising Committee below.

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