Changing lives

Tollgate Primary School in Newham, East London, is on course to inspire the next generation of sailors through RYA OnBoard, the national grassroots programme making it more accessible for youngsters to try sailing and windsurfing.

Emma O’Connor, headteacher at Tollgate, said: “Some of the kids have never been on a boat even though they live near the docks. When they start they are nervous, some do not want to go and they are not sure how to react, but in the end it is a different story. They love it, they are more confident, more ready to learn and they want to go again.”

Last year, a landmark study published by UCL’s Institute of Education evidenced that being part of OnBoard does not just benefit young people’s physical well-being, but it also develops character attributes including communication, independence and determination.

Emma said: “Our standardised scores went up in maths and English. We noticed not only a difference with the academic side of things but also an improvement in their behaviour, self-confidence, team building skills and their cooperation. It was measurable in all areas.”

Back in September, the Department for Education published revised activity lists for GCSE, AS and A-level PE. The new activities, including sailing and windsurfing, are now able to be taught and will be assessed in 2021 for AS-level and 2022 for GCSE and A-level.

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