Watford Grammar School for Girls: PE Major Award - Highly Commended

PE Major Award 18/19:  Highly Commended

Watford Grammar School for Girls


Congratulations to Katie Holes, Director of Sport at Watford Grammar School for Girls, for winning the second of two Highly Commended Awards this year (£5,000).

Katie put in a strong bid for kitting-out a fitness and mindfulness studio together with staff training in yoga.  WGG’s bid tapped into the long-underestimated importance of mental-wellbeing in young people.  The bid covered a wide range of aerobic and yoga equipment, the installation of mood lighting and a sizeable amount of staff INSET from The Yoga Factory.

The benefit of the equipment and staff training would be far reaching – promoting fitness and well-being amongst pupils and starting them on a path of life-long mental and physical health.  The initial focus would be on mindfulness, wellbeing and fitness classes throughout the whole of KS4 and they would also be able to offer sessions to particular students in KS3 e.g. for SEND, CLA, low self-esteem students etc.

We were very pleased to receive a Major PE Award application which combined physical and mental fitness so comprehensively.  As Katie explained:

“In common with many schools we have seen a rise in anxiety, depression and poor mental health in recent years. Pupils at our school are highly motivated and achieve very well but often feel overwhelmed by their own level of expectation. Managing the pressure of their aspiration alongside the increased pressures from social media and the experiences of growing up in a rapidly changing world simply becomes too much for many young women.”

We felt that by extending the range of activities and enhancing the environment in the studio, many more girls would be drawn back into exercise and fitness as well as benefiting hugely from new yoga and mindfulness sessions for a holistic approach to health.  WGG intend to assess the effectiveness of the project with student surveys and careful monitoring of student participation.  Katie explained the staff have already demonstrated their passion and effectiveness in delivering a program in this area through their This Girl Can project in Year 8 for students with low confidence and self-esteem and a small Y11 yoga group.  The funding would allow them to extend provision greatly, both within the curriculum and in after-school classes and it would increase both the number and expertise of staff able to deliver these programs.   They would be able to particularly help PP and BME students who may not have as much access to fitness and mindfulness activities due to financial and/or cultural constraints.

Finally, Katie ticked our very important “longevity box” by highlighting the fact that the aerobic and lighting equipment will benefit Watford Grammar girls for many years to come and the substantial INSET will benefit pupils of trained staff for the rest of their careers as well as being passed on to other staff.

We wish Katie and her team all the very best of luck with their new venture and hope they can secure the remaining funding soon.