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Mile track build in to keep youngsters at Doncaster primary school fit

You may not see its like at the Olympic games – but the new running track at Kirk Sandall Junior School is just as popular as the summer games with the pupils.

This summer, workmen moved onto the site at Magnolia Close to create a multicoloured, synthetic grass running track. Measuring 140m in length, it may be a bit short for the 300m used by the likes of Mo Farah.

Year four children taking part in the Daily Mile on the schools new Daily Mile Track. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-3

Year four children taking part in the Daily Mile on the schools new Daily Mile Track. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-3

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But for the pupils at the school, it has become a daily feature of their day as they complete over a dozen laps of the circuit, following a decision at the school to adopt ‘the daily mile’.

The new £12,000 track, paid for with Sports Premium grant money, is thought to be the first of its kind in the area, and its not just the youngsters who are using it. It is used to allow every pupil to run or walk a mile a day, as part of the school day.

Read more: Doncaster mums' big plans for children's playground in Kirk Sandall

Year six children pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-5

Year six children pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-5

Teachers and support staff are also taking part in the mile. No one has to run it, although many do. They are allowed to walk the course, as long as they complete the distance. The track is intended to make sure the mile can be done in all weathers.

PE teacher Scott Sutherill was responsible for bringing in the track, along with headteacher Jayne McAllister.

He said: “We got some money from Sports Premium Funding for PE and wanted to spend it on something that would benefit all the pupils. 

“We want to get children active. Some will be doing sports every night, but some may not be doing anything like that when they get home. But this is 15 minutes of exercise that the children can do every day.

Year Four children pictured during an outdoor learning session on the new Astoturf.  Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-2

Year Four children pictured during an outdoor learning session on the new Astoturf. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-2

“There is research showing that it helps with concentration  during the day as well, so we believe it helps them when they are back in lessons as well. We think it’s going really well, and the children seem to enjoy it whether they run, jog or walk.”

Year four teacher Alan Roberts agrees it is a good idea, and said he was happy to do it. He said: “The children see us in a different environment, out of the classroom.”

Eight year old pupils Zachary Peckover, Roxanne Davis and Amirah Shah were supportive.

Zachary said: “I like that its quite a big track, and we get to run around a lot.”

Year five children pictured by their Kirk Sandall Seven display. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-1

Year five children pictured by their Kirk Sandall Seven display. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-18-09-18-KirkSandallJnr-1

Rozanne said: “I think its good exercise and I enjoy it.”

Amirah added: “I like it that you can push yourself to go faster each time.”

It is one of a number of new schemes which have been introduced at the school recently.

When Ofsted visited in February, they judged leadership at the school as good, but said that it required improvement in other areas.

Now there have been a number of measures brought in by headteacher Mrs McAllister.

The school has brought in a system called the the Kirk Sandall Seven.

It rewards pupils who show seven good learning behaviours – resilience, reflection, effort, collaboration, determination, positive attitude, and talks. 

Mrs McAllister said: “Teachers are looking for these ‘learning powers’ as we call them. When they see pupils using them, they give them a ‘learning power’ token.  The tokens are put in a box and converted into house points. At the end of the week, we have a celebration assembly. In celebration assembly each class teacher chooses one pupil, who has been consistently displaying at least one of the learning powers during the week, to receive a certificate. It motivates them and it’s well embedded now.”

She has also brought in a system called The Kirk Sandall Way, which is a behaviour code that outlines six expectations – being caring, listening, working hard, honesty, looking after people and things, and being a positive role model.

Each pupil starts the day rated as ‘the Kirk Sandall Way.

They can be moved up or down, depending on behaviour.

One incident is is classed as ‘a bit of a wobble’. Pupils get a warning or encouragement.

If they keep misbehaving, the classification moves to Its ‘Time to Change’, with temporary isolation in the classroom, and an ‘amber ‘ note home to their parents. And stronger misbehaviour moves pupils to ‘Unacceptable Behaviour’ status, with a ‘purple’ note home to parents, and isolation for the lesson.

Those who go above and beyond in displaying the good behaviours get rated as ‘Superstar Status’, take a ‘proud’ note home from their teacher, and are allowed to go into first sitting at dinner time as a reward.

“We’re making it really clear to pupils what we expect,” said Mrs McAllister.

The school has signed up for a scheme called Maths Mastery to boost maths.

And it has changed the way it uses story books in teaching. One title is used to teach across all lessons. For instance, pupils reading Michael Morpurgo’s World War One novel Private Peaceful will also use it in history as well as English.

There is an English Board, which displays work around the book.

“We want to get the children more engaged with the text,” said Mrs McAllister. “If everything we do is based on one particular text, boys especially are are better able to make connections.  Children are so engaged with the subjects.”

Mrs McAllister is proud of the school’s relationship with the community it serves.

It has a very active Friends of Kirk Sandall Junior School association.

Once a month the school runs bingo for local pensioners. They play bingo in the school hall, and year six pupils meet them and greet them, and serve them biscuits and drinks.

The Friends group also runs regular family fun nights, quiz nights and an annual summer fair. They all help raise money for the school.

It is also one of a diminishing number of schools which still runs a school orchestra.

Earlier this year, deputy headteacher Joanne Addy took a 55-strong orchestra from the school to the Hornsea Music Festival. They brought a trophy back with them, for the best school orchestra.

Read more: New £300k outdoor play and gym facilities open