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Education Select Committee Hears From United Learning on Olympic Legacy in Schools

Education Select Committee Hears From United Learning on Olympic Legacy in Schools

United Learning recruits elite athletes as Sports Ambassadors

Shaun Dowling, United Learning’s Head of Sport, today appeared in front of the House of Commons Education Select Committee which is looking at the sporting legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.

Shaun, who has joined United Learning as Head of Sport on secondment from the Youth Sport Trust, spoke to MPs about the numerous initiatives which are underway in United Learning’s independent schools and academies as a result of last summer’s Olympics.

When asked about the impact of last summer’s Games on United Learning students, Shaun told MPs about the United Learning Panel survey which asked all students in the Group about their attitudes to sport following the Olympics.  Shaun reported that six in ten students had said that watching the Olympics had encouraged them to participate in more sport.  The survey had also found that 69% of students said they were going to try new sports because of London 2012.

Shaun set out for the Committee some of the developments in PE and sport that are emerging across the Group in response to the impact that the Games has had on students.  He mentioned that at Bournemouth Collegiate School, the size of the volleyball club had increased threefold since the summer and that the school has introduced a triathlon club which is popular amongst students and the local community.  He also mentioned that there has been an increased interest in sports which are not considered mainstream and cited the introduction of handball at Shoreham Academy as an example.

The MPs were interested in hearing about how the Group’s independent schools and academies work together.  Shaun reported that there is a huge appetite amongst both the independent schools and academies to work together and explained how Surbiton High School and The Regis School are running a rowing club together.

United Learning has also today announced the appointment of six Sports Ambassadors.  The ambassadors who are all elite athletes are:

  • Shelley Rudman who is the current World Champion in the Skeleton Bobsleigh.
  • Alex Danson who was the top goal scorer in the Bronze medal winning Women’s Hockey Team at the 2012 Olympics.
  • Bonita Norris who broke a British record when she reached the summit of Mount Everest aged just 22.
  • Emma Wiggs who represented Great Britain in the London 2012 Paralympics in seated volleyball and is now part of the Great Britain Paracanoe squad.
  • Adele Carson who is a former international synchronised swimmer and managed the Great Britain synchro team for the 2012 and 2008 Olympic Games.  She also runs her own company Aquabatix which produced the Britain’s Got Talent 2012 finalists Aquabatique.
  • Jenny Pacey (international athlete) and Wayne Gordon (international bobsleigher) who are sports models, presenters and celebrity personal trainers.  They run their own fitness business, Pace & Go, and may be better known as gladiators Doom and Enigma!

Commenting on the Sports Ambassadors, Shaun Dowling said:

‘As part of our mission to bring out the best in everyone, we want to give children in our schools an opportunity to meet as many outstanding role models from all walks of life as possible.  Each of our Sports Ambassadors, who include World Champions, Olympians and world adventurers, are fantastic role models for our students.  They have each been on formidable journeys to get to where they are today and their stories of hard work and determination will inspire our own students to aim high and adopt the right attitude in order to achieve their dreams.’

Each Sports Ambassador has been linked to one of the six core values which underpin United Learning’s ethos – respect, confidence, ambition, determination, creativity and enthusiasm.

The Sports Ambassadors will work across all of the schools and academies in the Group.  Their roles will include running master classes, leading workshops and providing inspirational talks for both students and staff.



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