A primary school in Swanage is one of only a handful in Dorset and the first in Purbeck to be awarded the Platinum School Games Mark, which recognises outstanding commitment to competitive sport.
St Mark’s CE primary school, off the High Street, has achieved five gold awards over the last six years, which allowed it to successfully apply for the Platinum School Games Mark, a government-led award scheme, first launched in 2012.
Yound sporting talent at St Mark’s, left to right: Lily-May plays for Swanage football and cricket teams, Andreas is a goalkeeper for Hamworthy football club in the junior premier league, and Nala is a keen Swanage cricketer
“It’s all about the children”
At a special assembly on Friday 12th May 2023 the school games organiser for Purbeck, Dan Moody arrived to show the pupils their award and to hand it over to the school’s headteacher Rebecca Martin.
Year four teacher and PE lead Paula Davies, who’s been behind much of the organisation involved in achieving the award said:
“This recognises that our ethos of sport across the school is working. We offer pupils from reception to year six, the choice of 12 after-school clubs and change what we offer every half term. I’m delighted the school is being recognised but it’s all about the children.
“We encourage each child to attend up to three clubs a week, with a varied choice, depending on the time of the year. Activities include tennis, cricket and athletics, but also orienteering, forest school and survival club. We’re always looking to offer more choice to appeal to different children and new possibilities include martial arts and Zumba.
“One of the reasons why we’ve been able to achieve the platinum award is down to our success in encouraging those who are reluctant to participate.
“We put a lot of effort into establishing why some pupils don’t want to go to a sports after-school club, we make it easier for them to join in by giving them priority access and then do our best to spark their interest and break down any barriers.”
Headteacher Rebecca Martibn receives the Platinum School Games Mark trophy from school games organiser for Purbeck Dan Moody
Close links with sports clubs in Swanage
So far in 2023, 85 percent of St Mark’s pupils have attended one of its school clubs, some of which are run by community clubs in Swanage.
The school has close links with coaches from Swanage Football Club, Swanage Tennis Club and Swanage Cricket Club, who regularly work with its pupils and staff.
Keen to enter inter-school competitions, 75 percent of its children have competed in more than 30 local tournaments so far in 2023.
Year four teacher and PE lead Paula Davies (centre) works hard to encourage all pupils to participate
Plenty of opportunities to enjoy sport at St Mark’s
“Instil sport into the lives of our children”
Headteacher Rebecca Martin added:
“We prioritise sport because it’s so important in so many ways – for our mental health, teamwork, confidence building, and just for getting outside.
“Personally I truly believe in sport. I used to do it at school but then stopped and only started again in my 30s. I’d like to really instil sport into the lives of our children, so they don’t stop at any point but continue to be involved in sport for the rest of their life.”
St Mary’s Catholic primary school and Swanage primary school in Swanage have both received the Gold School Games Mark and are on their way to achieving platinum.
Stoborough CE primary school is expected soon to become the second school in Purbeck to receive the platinum award, having applied shortly after St Mark’s.
The Platinum School Games Mark award joins St Mark’s other sporting trophies
“The school goes above and beyond”
The school games organiser for Purbeck is Dan Moody. This is a role backed by Sport England to encourage competitive sport in schools and he’s assisted by Shelley Hamblin, based at The Purbeck School. Dan said:
“St Mark’s demonstrates an outstanding commitment and engagement with sport. We organise competitions at The Purbeck School on most Tuesdays and it’s rare for St Mark’s not to be there.
“The school goes above and beyond to ensure their pupils can participate, including providing transport to and from competitions. It’s very supportive of sport in the school and fully deserves the Platinum School Games Mark!”