We have to be ambitious for families; they’re far too important to be left to chance.
I was brought up by a single, young teenage mother on a challenging council estate in a very tough city. It isn’t difficult to paint a picture of an extremely disadvantaged learning environment and visualise the likely life flight path for me. It’s all true apart from the fact I wasn’t disadvantaged, I was privileged. At Create we believe we can support families to provide the same privileges for their children. This December is ‘Family Focus Month‘ at Create, as we raise awareness of our family programmes. Sorry, it won’t be the last as we care too much.
When my mum finished work and picked me up from the council nursery in Bell Green and later from St Patrick’s Primary School in Coventry, she then played with me. We ran for the bus together, we played outside and indoors. Active fun and play were not special treats they were what we did. When it got dark we played card games, board games, chess and she read to me and with me. We walked miles and took two buses to the centre of town for swimming lessons and she searched (without the internet) for any activity opportunity that was available for me. I went to school eager to learn and bursting with energy and ambition.
I couldn’t tell my mum that I was recently supporting schemes to help many 11 year olds learn to swim, or that some people in my world once celebrated two hours of PE for each primary school. (Notice how the word ‘quality’ slipped over the years as did any measure of actual physical activity.) I can’t discuss the obesity strategy with her that says children need a minimum of 30 minutes physical activity at school and 30 minutes at home (below recommended health levels and less than half the guidelines of other countries). The reason being she would be flabbergasted at the extraordinarily low expectations.
My mum doesn’t see playing with your children as something amazing she just thinks that’s normal and she does it now with all the grandchildren, all the time, regardless of their age. She would even think sending me to school unable to swim was unacceptable.
One clear ambition we have at Create is to help families enjoy active play together. We are supporting parents and carers with simple strategies and inspiring materials to actively read with their children, play active board games with their children and learn together. But, most importantly, to bask in the sheer joy that comes from active play together.
All parents and carers are desperate to do better for their children and we want to work with schools and community organisations to show them really simple way to support them.
We have some simple ways to help and encourage families to take first steps or do a little more activity through real play supporting resources. But it’s the targeted focused intervention work with real play that gives me joyful tears and goosebumps. The feedback we get from families, schools and children is simply unparalleled.
real PE and real gym continue to grow. They are easy to buy into, help you deliver your primary PE curriculum better and they are the best approaches and supporting resources out there.
The family stuff is more difficult. There you are! I’ve said it. It is difficult. It will take significant effort from incredible professionals already with too much to do. That includes Create staff, school senior managers, teachers, assistants, SENCOs, Family Support Workers, Family Link Teachers and PE practitioners. It’s really tough for us to make the finance work and it requires investment from others to make it happen. But oh my goodness it’s worth it. The impact will be so much deeper and broader than even the most ambitious could imagine.
Come and join us. Be liberated by accepting that while all the very best things are tough to achieve we feel incredibly nourished by every family and every child we can make a difference to.
When what we now describe as amazing becomes normal, I might have the confidence to tell my mum about it.
Ronnie is a former leader in education, award-winning National League coach and National Trainer who established Create in 2006 to inspire teachers and coaches to better include, engage and challenge all young learners.