As part of our ongoing support for those who experience mental health issues, in 2020 we implemented a physical education programme for The Sherwood Education Centre in Nottingham.

The Sherwood Education Centre is a small group provision of education for students in Year 7-11 who are unable to attend their own schools due to anxiety-related reasons. With evidence suggesting that physical activity can help to improve mental health issues, our programme was designed to improve the pupils’ levels of anxiety, wellbeing and self-esteem over a six-month period.

The programme was split into 4 stages:

  • Stage 1 involved building relationships between coaches and pupils by working on simple activities such as throwing, catching and teamwork.
  • Stage 2 introduced learning a new sport each week and learning a relevant skill for each sport to then put into practice in team matches.
  • Stage 3 continued with learning different sports, whilst also giving the pupils an opportunity to deliver parts of the sessions themselves.
  • Stage 4 again, continued with learning new sports and skills whilst allowing pupils to lead sessions and share ideas.

The end of the six-month programme saw a considerable reduction in the pupils’ feelings of anxiety compared to their feelings of anxiety before beginning the programme. Almost all parents and staff also noted a positive different to the pupils’ wellbeing and anxiety after completing the education programme with one staff member making the following comment about one of the pupils:

“In lessons she (the student) could not even engage with the staff, if a member of staff asked her a question, she would not answer… And that was changing by the end of this, so I don’t know what the circumstances are around this massive change but there has been a massive change in this student.” – Staff Member, The Sherwood Education Centre

We are confident that our physical education programme will have a positive impact on the mental health of other pupils, and we hope to be able to deliver the programme to more schools across Nottinghamshire in the near future.