Worshipping cricket in Leeds

For many in Yorkshire, cricket is a religion. However, at Temple Learning Academy in Leeds, the pupils had very little experience or interest in the sport before Tom Bates, Yorkshire Cricket Board coach, began delivering Chance to Shine sessions in 2019.

Tom delivered the Full Schools Programme to Year 2 and ran an after-school club for Key Stage 2 and the response from the pupils has been fantastic. As well as those pupils who regularly fully take part in PE sessions, PE Lead Gareth Connor was pleased to see that the sessions included those who were usually much less likely to join in: “There’s a few that picked up the sport and had a real interest in it which was surprising from seeing them in previous lessons. Particularly some of the girls who took it on board and carried it on throughout the year.”

Since getting a chance to take part in the sport, Gareth has seen a real benefit to the children: “We saw massive improvements in their personal development through core skills which were transferable across other sports. Improving teamwork and taking on different roles and responsibilities across the sessions.”

Whilst Gareth felt confident supporting cricket sessions, the other members of staff had very limited knowledge of the sport and didn’t feel comfortable to deliver lessons themselves. Inspired by Tom’s sessions, Gareth decided to use the resources available on the Chance to Shine Schools’ Portal to encourage his colleagues to continue cricket within the school.

It wasn’t just within school that the positive effects were being seen, Gareth soon had parents speaking to him about the sessions: “Feedback from parents has been very positive. Parents have asked about local clubs, for more coaching and if there were any camps over the summer.”

Despite the positive response from children, staff and parents, only two children from the school progressed to playing for their local club. The school is based in an area which is in the top 1.5% of deprivation across the country and for many families the cost involved was too great. To ensure that the children had a place to carry on playing, Gareth and Tom worked together to set up an All Stars Cricket centre on site and the school subsidised the sessions to make them more accessible. This proved a great success with 27 children regularly taking part.

The impact of cricket at Temple Learning Academy in just a few short months has been remarkable and Gareth is already planning on how to continue to grow opportunities for the children.

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