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Thought For The Week - 19-06-23

‘Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’  Hebrews 12 v 1 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

At this time of year our schools are busy with many end of term events. Sports day is one of those occasions. No matter how you celebrate it, sports day is always much anticipated by pupils, parents and staff.

In this country there is always the weather to consider... will it be too hot, too cold, too wet? Will we need sun hats, rain coats, woolly jumpers or - heaven forbid - will the event go ahead or not!  As a school leader I sent up many an anxious prayer in the hope of appropriate weather for the event!

Sports day marks the culmination of a school year full of PE, sport and competition. We know many of you support pupils to flourish by engaging them in a wealth of different activities: boccia, golf, table tennis, triathlons, wheelchair basketball and many more traditional sports. You help pupils improve on personal bests; engage in competition; learn about tactics and team work and to hone their physical skills. Many schools make explicit the link between physical and mental health and also work hard to ensure all pupils, no matter what their background, experience or ability, engage in the exciting offers that form part of your curricula and wider provision.

Enabling our pupils to flourish physically is important in church schools. Sport provides a really tangible opportunity to explore and live out our visions and values.

The Bible doesn’t mention sports day but does have many references to races. In Hebrews  (12:1) there are reminders to run with perseverance the race set out’; 2 Timothy  (4:7) speaks about ‘fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith’. Galatians (6:9) urges Christians to keep going and ‘not give up’ and 1 Corinthians reminds Christians to ‘run the race to the prize’ (9:24-27).

Of course, these verses refer to the Christian faith, the journey this may take and the challenges faced along the way. The prize of Jesus and Salvation being available to all.

Many of these verses also refer to the values which are needed to succeed in this race. These are as relevant to faith as they are to sport: perseverance, strength, determination, humility.  Perhaps some of these are aligned with your school values which you refer to during sporting occasions.

Faith and sport often appear together. Bukayo Saka, one of England’s latest football heroes has shown how he wears his faith on his sleeve. He attended a Church of England primary school in London and was a member of a Pentecostal church. When he won the young London player of the year he tweeted ‘God’s work’. Marcus Rashford has also spoken about his Christian upbringing and Raheem Sterling is described, in Pep Guardiola’s biography, as reading the Bible before training. In these three players we see examples of how faith, spirituality and sport can go hand in hand.

As we grow and develop future athletes in our schools, we can be confident that the values we promote through our Christian foundation and through complementary work in sport and PE, will help some go on to develop the deep level of dedication needed to maintain training and achieve professional status in the sports they excel at. For them and others (sporty people or not) Christian faith and belief can provide a source of hope and inspiration which spurs them on in their lives.

I wish you well with all your end of term events, I hope the weather stays fine so that your events go smoothly and that all enjoy taking part. I also hope that you and your pupils are able to take time to reflect on how you keep going, run the race and win the prize! 

from June Richardson, Schools Effectiveness Advisor

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