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Top tips for engaging schools

What are the secrets to engaging schools and delivering a successful outreach programme? Some of the most successful schools coaches in England including Walthamstow’s Vicky Te Velde, Newcastle’s Richard Vitty and Northants’ Mike Broadbent reveal their tips.

Research and define offer
  • Before you approach any school, do your research! Research the current national PE school curriculum and Primary PE and School Sport Premium and consider how your offer meets the objectives (which includes increased skills of staff in teaching sport, a broader range of sports on offer and increased participation in competitive sport).
  • Define your offer; consider where sessions will be held, how many sessions you can offer, and at what age group. Hear how Northern Squash Club approach it. Be mindful that not every school will have the resource to take on a coach, so you could offer to upskill staff with a Schools Squash Leaders Award or Young Leaders Award for as little as £25 (both run by England Squash)
  • Research schools in your area and which are within walking distance of your venue. Contact the Schools Games Organisers within your local County Sports Partnership or Local Sports Authority. They can put you in touch with the right contacts in your local schools. Or perhaps you know a parent who has kids at the local school who might know who best to contact?
Make contact
  • Email or send a letter to the school’s contact (download our template letter) and follow up with a phone call.Be sure to include how you can ensure your offer meets the requirements of the Primary PE and School Sport Premium as well as the benefits of playing squash.
  • Meet the school and pitch your offer. Bring session plans to show the teachers the types of activities you’d like to provide – you could show our Junior 101 digital coaching resources which are national curriculum-aligned activities for use in any setting. Don’t forget to bring your DBS and insurance certificate.
  • Be persistent. Schools are busy places and one letter or email might not get through to the right person straight away follow up where you can. Follow up any initial contact.
Make a racket
  • Kids love having FUN. Hear how Walthamstow Squash Club inject fun into their session. Whether you’re delivering the sessions at school or at a club, start with a bang and hold a squash festival full of exciting activities. With a class of 30 there’ll be a huge range of ability and interest levels so mix things up!
  • A one-off squash festival at your club is also a good opportunity to showcase the sport to kids and get teachers on board. Read how Daventry did it. Kids love rewards so give out certificates.
Next steps
  • Hand out a flyer to all the kids, their teachers or parents about the established junior coaching at your club and give the teachers posters to put up at school.
  • Perseverance is key! Whatever your goals in engaging schools, keep going, eventually the message will trickle through. Like any marketing activity, it takes several attempts for your ‘brand’ to get the message through.