Roaring success for Active Suffolk as their PESSPA Conference recommences for the first time back in-person

Posted: Tue, 21 Mar 2023 16:23

Roaring success for Active Suffolk as their PESSPA Conference recommences for the first time back in-person

After being unable to hold the annual PE and School Sport Conference in-person since 2019 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Active Suffolk were delighted to be able to hold the conference again in-person on Wednesday 22nd February at The Hold, Ipswich. While Active Suffolk held several smaller scale virtual learning events during 2020 and some of 2021, they were thrilled to find that 100% of survey respondents would already recommend the conference to others after their very first one back in-person!

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Photo Caption: 100% of survey respondents said they would recommend our #PESSPA Conference to others!

The day began at 9:30am with over 60 delegates from over 60 different educational settings such as primary schools, secondary schools, SEN schools and colleges signing in for the conference. They then excitedly chose their workshops for the day before being able to visit the conference marketplace. The marketplace included a large variety of different organisations from across the sport and physical activity, mobility and VCSE sectors such as VisionED, Junior Parkrun, Complete P.E. and Lifeglider. All were ready and waiting to greet delegates, tell them all about their organisations and provide some invaluable networking time for those teachers who wanted to know more about the opportunities that could be available for their schools and the children they support.

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Photo Caption: The marketplace at the #PESSPA Conference

Following the opening of the conference, delivered by Gareth Davies, Director of Active Suffolk and Valerie Gladwell, Director of Institute of Wellbeing at University of Suffolk, delegates were introduced to their keynote speaker for the day; Rachael Mackenzie. Rachael is a Thai Boxing Champion, Athlete Mentor for Youth Sport Trust and took to the stage to speak about her journey into sport, what her experience was like growing up as a female entering into Thai Boxing and all about why she is so passionate about enabling happy & healthy learners through physical activity to support their wellbeing.

"Sport really changed my life, it dramatically improved my mental health. It saved me, and I know that if we can inspire every young person to be physically active, we don't just make them physically healthier, we make them better people. That means that they access the world in a completely different way and in a way that means they can truly thrive, and that's what we want for all young people."

Photo Caption: Our keynote speaker, Rachael Mackenzie trying out a Lifeglider, a walking aid that prevents the user from falling.

After an inspirational session with Rachael, discussing brain development and resilience for both staff and pupils including practical advice on how to use physical activity to mitigate challenging situations, the delegates then heard from Nick Leppard of County Upper, Suffolk's Lead Inclusion School about the opportunities open to schools across Suffolk to get their children enjoying more inclusive and accessible physical activity.

Workshops throughout the day included those delivered by;

  • The Daily Mile who discussed the benefits of getting children active for 15-minutes of self regulated activity every day.
  • The Ipswich Town Foundation who discussed their Primary Stars programme and how this is helping to get more children physically active using the well-known name of Ipswich Town Football Club.
  • Rachael Mackenzie who gave her tips on sharing the physical activity message to whole schools and how to apply the techniques from the key note session to each school day.
  • Stormbreak who provided practical examples of their mentally healthy movement sessions and discussed the benefits to children's wellbeing from participating.
  • The Activity Volunteer Programme which discussed how their programme provides a clear pathway into volunteering so that young people can build core, transferable skills.

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Photo Caption: Delegates enjoying The Daily Mile workshop.

Delegates were then treated to an expert panel discussion with the theme of 'My Lived Experience'. The panel included Rachael Mackenzie, our keynote speaker, Evie Edwards, two-time Paralympian, Darryl Walsh, Director of School Operations at Stormbreak & former headteacher and Lee Evans, Midfielder for Ipswich Town Football Club. The panel discussed their earliest memories of physical education, how they progressed within their chosen sports and physical activities and what advice they would give to teachers supporting children in their physical activity journeys now.

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Photo Caption: Our 'My Lived Experience' panel.

The day was brought to a close following a talk on PE in the Curriculum from Jane Stannard, Schools Engagement Manager for Public Health at Suffolk County Council and a brief update on This Girl Can and the resources that delegates could access, including our brand-new primary school resource pack.

Incredible comments from delegates have already been flying in and we are very much looking forward to planning for next years event. Watch this space for a 'save the date' for 2024!

"It was a very enjoyable and insightful experience. I'm going back to school with new motivation to make positive changes and reinforce lots of the key points to embed physical activity as a vital part of the school day."

"Just thank you! I had a great day, it provided me with lots of resources to present to SLT and hopefully support the change in culture at our school."

"A fantastic range of speakers which were inspirational and gave some wonderful advice that can be used back in schools."

100% of survey respondents would recommend the conference to others!

Our keynote speaker, Rachael Mackenzie was rated as being 'Excellent', with an average rating of 4.8/5 from our survey respondents.

82.1% of survey respondents rated the organisation of the conference as being 'Excellent', with the average score being 4.8/5.

Tags: CPD, CYP, PE and School Sport, PE and School Sport Conference, PESSPA Conference, SEN, SEN school, Suffolk, college, conference, mentally healthy movement, physical activity, physical education, primary school, school, secondary school, teachers, wellbeing