Talking tactics: Sport at GWC

Participation, excellence, professionalism, and equality are the four cornerstones of our Physical Education and Sport Department here at George Watson’s College. 

Our school has an enviable reputation for the breadth of opportunities pupils have to get - and enjoy being - active. 

There are around 25 different sports available to both girls and boys. 

Our very youngest in Preschool enjoy specialist PE classes, and opportunities only grow from there. 

We deliver nearly five hours of curricular sport every fortnight, with more than the same opportunity again available through our extra-curricular programme. 

By Primary 5 games children have the opportunity to pick what sports they would like to participate in, with equality at the heart of this approach. 

Rugby, hockey, cricket, athletics, tennis, rowing and a programme of multi-sports including basketball, badminton, swimming, and football are available for pupils at various stages.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, regardless of ability or gender. Sport at Watson’s is about taking part. 

And so, if your son doesn’t like rugby, that’s fine. They’ll learn a bit about it in Primary 4 (and hopefully have some fun!), but thereafter they can explore other sports they might enjoy. 

This goes to the heart of our view that pupils succeed when we give them the freedom to discover what they love. 

When our pupils do get stuck in, they benefit from an extraordinarily strong group of specialist coaches and teachers. 

You might be forgiven for thinking that with a huge programme, which also includes fencing, yoga, equestrian, surfing, trail running and squash, it might be a case of finding that Watson’s is a bit ‘jack of all trades’. 

Far from it. 

At Watson’s, we are fortunate to have Olympians, Commonwealth Games participants, former players with hundreds of international caps in their respective sports, and some of the best-qualified coaches and teachers in the business. 

Take squash for example, where Jamie Henderson coaches every day in our superb facilities. He’s a top 200 player in the world and top-five in Scotland. 

People like Jamie are crucial to our commitment not just to widen participation but to offer the best quality experience for our pupils. 

What about Josh Walker? He’s a former Middlesbrough and Aberdeen star and is now our Head Coach for football. 

There are many more, too! 

As is the way at Watson’s, we listen to our pupils. When those in Senior 3 and Senior 4 told us they would prefer to have the option for single-gender classes, we listened and created opportunities for girls (in particular) to participate with more confidence. 

Engagement continues on a regular basis, with a Sports Council including representatives from Senior 1 through Senior 6 meeting twice every term. 

In Senior 5 and Senior 6 we broadened our programme to introduce activities like yoga that have proved to be extremely popular. 

Everything we do is about removing barriers and creating opportunities. As our Director of PE and Sport says, “if there’s a sport we’re not doing, and pupils want to do it, we’ll try and find a way to deliver it.”

After all, we know that good physical health is intrinsically linked to good mental health.  

Whilst participation is critical, we also provide the best in class support for those pupils who we believe have the opportunity to reach an international standard of competition. 

Our ‘Talented Athlete Programme’ is led by Olympian Gemma Burton, who won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London, back in 2012. 

Pupils are able to benefit from a strength and conditioning coach, nutritional and sports psychology support.  We help them balance their academic studies, with time to train and prepare so they have the best chance of success. 

It would be remiss of us not to mention the facilities on offer in our Centre for Sport. 

State of the art gymnasiums, games halls, a stunningly refurbished swimming pool, as well as superb grass and synthetic playing fields, our pupils have the freedom to perform. 

Brilliant staff, endless opportunities, and facilities fit for a superstar. 

That is why sport at our school really is for everyone.