26 April 2018

Team ATLP – go the distance

By Richard Gill, CEO, ATLP

Last weekend, I joined the millions glued to their TV sets as David Weir CBE and Sir Mo Farah went the sweltering distance in the London Marathon to achieve success that most of us can only dream of.

With a whopping eight wins, Weir holds the London Marathon wheelchair record, followed by fellow Paralympian – and friend of ATLP – Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson’s impressive six titles.

As a youngster, Weir was inspired by Tanni after watching her race to victory at the Sydney Games. When he was a child, Mo’s gift for running was spotted by his PE teacher.

Talent, determination and hard work connect these athletes. They teach us that anything is possible if we inspire and support young people to be ambitious.

We are acutely aware that the children get one chance at education.  Ahead of next month’s National School Leaders’ Conference, I told delegates, ‘In 20 years’ time school leaders are going to look back at the legacy we have left behind’

This legacy is about the positive contribution we make to every child’s life. Our children learn and excel in nurturing and inclusive environments. ‘Everyone is different and unique and our special skills and interests are something to be celebrated,’ Slade pupils learnt during Autism Awareness Day. This message was also championed at Brookvale’s Diversity Day this week, when the school welcomed April Barrett MBE, Ambassador for the Dwarf Sports Association, and other guests.

Just like our children, leaders are embracing new ideas and partnerships and stepping out of our comfort zones – and even into the great outdoors – to improve schools http://www.atlp.org.uk/a-tower-of-strength/

Our children have also been bringing the classroom outside. Year 4 Mere Green pupils dug WW1 trenches as part of Forest school, while year 5s had fun showcasing the features of a river. Hill West pupils recreated Renoir’s famous ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ painting. There was even a spot of singing, al-fresco style, as Arthur Terry played host to Sutton Coldfield Choirs.

Let’s continue to innovate: to demonstrate pace and drive as we coach our students to achieve their personal bests, like the two former ATLP students who appeared at this year’s Commonwealth Games.  Scotch Orchard’s Emily Nelson competed in GB’s Cycling team while Stockland Green’s Lady Sanity performed her song ‘Go the Distance’.

That’s exactly what talented Coleshill student Charles intends to do, after being selected to represent England Ice Hockey Association Midlands Conference at *13s for the current season. Well done Charles!

As Tanni says: “You need to be on the start line to have a chance of winning.” Help me to give our young people a head start, by working as part of ‘Team ATLP’ to fulfil that potential.