British Land Inclusive League
When Capital Kids Cricket were tasked by British Land with devising and running a cricket league for pupils who have special Educational Needs (SEN), we never anticipated the interest it would create in the schools that took part and what a difference it would make to the pupils involved.
Initially we targeted special need primary schools across 8 London boroughs. The schools had various levels of disabilities ranging from learning difficulties, behavioral to physical disabilities. A number of the schools we approached did not want to get involved for various reasons. Faced with only a few of the special needs schools taking up the offer, our Inclusion coaches decided to target main stream primary schools, but focusing on the pupils who were on the school’s SEN registers. It was felt that the pupils in these schools were the students, who usually do not get picked to play in the school teams, probably don’t take part in any extracurricular activities. There was tremendous enthusiasm from the schools, who were keen to get involved with something that was new and targeted different children within their schools.
All schools were offered coaching prior to the competition. This was important as we designed a game that stayed true to the roots of cricket, i.e. Hitting the ball, bowling, fielding, catching batsmen out, scoring runs; but didn’t have as many laws as the existing game of cricket, it could be understood by all participants and most important of all it was fun to play! Each of the schools involved in the competition received at least 16 hours of coaching from our Inclusion coaches. Not only were our coaches teaching the children how to play the game and the different techniques they would use, they were also teaching them how to score, so bringing an element of Math’s to the sessions. They were encouraging the pupils to keep their own score and then add up all of their team scores at the end of their innings and checking the scores with the coach.
When our coaches were not in the schools they encouraged the teachers to play the game with the group in their other P.E. sessions they had. It came as a surprise to our coaches that not only did these groups plays the game; it was also being played by the other classes within the school. In one school, the children who were receiving weekly coaching were actually teaching other pupils how to play and score the matches. This shows the confidence these pupils gained form the coaching and how they took pride in their game and the competition they were involved in.
In some of the boroughs due to the numbers of schools involved we had play offs to decide who went through to the grand finals day in June. In some of the boroughs we only had one school wish to enter so although they progressed straight to the final, they were encouraged to play matches within the school. The finals day on the 6th June was a great success. Unfortunately one of the schools dropped out on the Wednesday evening but the 8 schools that took part really enjoyed the day, with Grasmere school from Hackney winning the tournament overall. It was noticeable how the pre-tournament coaching and encouraging schools to play matches outside of their coached sessions, made to the schools, as the standard of play on the finals day was very high.
A good programme is judged on the legacy that is left once it has finished. All of the schools that took part in the competition are now playing the game across all year and ability groups. The teachers are using the drills and skills that our inclusion coaches used with the children during their sessions with other groups in the school. Each school involved in the programme will receive a cricket coaching equipment bag from Middlesex Cricket Board for taking part in the competition to help them to keep the pupils playing.
To be involved in a programme that energises schools to introduce a different set of pupils, a set of pupils who wouldn’t normally represent their school at any sport is an exciting and rewarding adventure for all involved. A competition that encourages those pupils, who are the silent majority in every school, to come out of their shell and want to teach their new skills and game to their fellow pupils; Pupils who they probably don’t interact with at school, shows the confidence they have gained from the coaching sessions and being involved in a competition designed specifically for them. Hopefully they will take this new found confidence in to the rest of their time at school.
We could not have delivered this programme alone. We thank British Land for funding the programme. Aquaterra Leisure, for generously donating the use of the Sobell Leisure centre for the launch of the competition.