Building an enduring love of health, movement and sport is a personal motivation for Andrew Steyn, Director of Sport for St Peter’s Girls Prep. 'When a child leaves school and continues to be involved with sport or movement throughout their lives, I feel that I have achieved something,” he says. 'I remember my own school sports experience with fondness, and hope to pass on a lasting positive memory to the girls who pass through St Peter’s.'
Striving for Life balance
“Our ethos hinges around life balance; and sport and movement are fundamental elements of a holistic education. We have intentionally structured our sports programme broadly to ensure that we accommodate all our students. Sport is part of our integrated daily learning programme, along with Physical Education. There is a wide variety of disciplines to choose from, as well as the option of competitive or non-competitive participation,' he explains.
Students are encouraged to choose at least one sport, comprising weekly compulsory 45-minute sessions with additional afternoon participation and competitive matches. At the same time, the two Physical Education components (Group and Individual class) concentrate on promoting movement with a more educational aspect, using physical testing and incorporating elements like indigenous game play and exercise to improve gross motor skills.
'Our sports offering includes traditional seasonal sports like Athletics, Tennis, Cross-Country, Swimming, Netball and Hockey, but we try to expose girls to as many different disciplines as possible. Over the past year, we have started introducing historically 'male-dominated' sports like Soccer, Basketball and Water Polo to the school. We started Soccer internally last year and have already progressed to competing in Interschool matches, while Basketball and Water Polo are still at an introductory skill-based level. The uptake amongst our students has been very enthusiastic; now we just need to get more monastic schools to buy in so that we have the opportunity to test our skills competitively. A more inclusive approach to sports is coming, it’s just a mind-set change' he says.
St Peter’s is proudly 'Ahead of the game, behind every child' and the schools’ value structure embraces humility and good sportsmanship, with each child focused in achieving their potential rather than judging themselves against the achievements of others. This philosophy is embedded in every facet of the educational journey, including sport, and the coaches are there to guide, encourage and support every girl to achieve her personal best, with no girl left behind.
'We believe that the benefit comes from participation, rather than winning, particularly for those who don’t have a natural inclination for sports. It would be naïve to deny that we make every effort to perform well and enjoy coming out on top,” asserts Steyn, “but when we don’t do well, no-one gets grumpy about it – it’s just part of the process.'
Enthusiasm, depth and involvement
'At the Prep School phase, our sports programme focuses on cultivating enthusiasm, depth and involvement, which naturally gains momentum as the players start competing for places and striving to excel. We are not trying to develop elite athletes by Grade 7; we just want them to have identified what sports they like by then. Our inclusion of Soccer, Water Polo and Basketball is less a conscious attempt to break though a perceived gender barrier, than just another example of the fact that we, any our students, believe that there is nothing a girl can’t do. We discourage stereotypes, push our girls to challenge themselves and encourage them to believe in themselves. They should never compare and find themselves inferior to their peers, and that includes boys. The school’s ultimate goal is to help our girls develop a growth mind-set coupled with self-belief, confidence and resilience for the years ahead, and I am proud that our inclusive Sports programme is integral to that development.'