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When the going gets tough, Anton gets going

Anton Junior School Sports Day Live 2020

Anton Junior School knows that Sports Day is the highlight of the school year. 

And they know it’s important for young people to have fun and see their friends, even if that means using technology and some innovating thinking.

The enterprising teaching staff at the school weren’t going to allow a little thing like a major worldwide virus pandemic put a stop to it.

While the Barlows Lane school remained open for children of key workers and vulnerable children – and more recently for children in Year 6 – the school says, “it has not felt the same”

Assistant Headteacher Mark Rist told Andover Radio, “The idea behind ‘Anton Sports Day Live’ was to create an event that would bring the whole school back together, give them a chance to ‘see’ each other again and to maintain one of the highlights of our school year.”

Five activities were designed and carefully created so that children could participate as easily at home as they could in school. 

So, at lunchtime on Thursday (25th June 2020), the special event went live.  “All of our school pods ventured outside to have a go at the five activities around the school grounds”, says Mr Rist. 

“Simultaneously, myself and three of the teachers (one from each year group) logged into Zoom and welcomed the children joining us from home.”

The video event not only gave pupils an opportunity to see their friends – many of whom hadn’t seen each other lockdown began – but also to see the other children in school competing in the activities.

The school which puts emphasis on subjects that develop creativity, physical fitness and personal and social skills said, “For children who were unable to join the event on the day, there was the option to complete their activities on a different day then send their scores and photos to the school”. (No cheating!).

After the event, Mr Rist says, “I have received a huge number of emails from parents grateful for the opportunity for their child to have a ‘normal’ school activity and to be able to see their friends.

“Others enjoyed the whole family joining in. In one case a younger sibling competed in their older sibling’s place as they had hurt their leg.”

Sports Day really should be a fun and inclusive event, and the staff from ‘Team Anton’ were pleased to see that school alumni also didn’t want to miss the opportunity. 

Mr Rist added, “My favourite image from the children competing at home was of a current Year 6 pupil, who competed with his two older sisters – both of whom are ex-pupils of the school”. Even the older sisters competed while wearing their old house colours.

“It took a lot of planning and preparation” added the Assistant Head. “The reaction of the children seeing each other for the first time in months, and to have school feeling a little more like ‘normal’ again was worth every minute spent! 

“I am extremely grateful to the staff at the school, the parents and most importantly the children for making this idea come to life and reminding us what can be achieved in the face of adversity.”

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.