Notting Hill & Ealing High School’s Head of Sport,
Sophie Nicholas, has been nominated for TeamUp’s London Sports Teacher of the
Year award for her outstanding contribution to girl’s sport.
Sophie, a former county hockey and netball player during
her time at school, leads the teaching of sport at Notting Hill & Ealing
High School. Sophie, who still finds time to play netball at a regional level
outside of the classroom, also used to play rugby to a high level for England A
and England Sevens.
Sophie strives to support all girls throughout the
school, actively encouraging them to become involved in sport and employing a
policy of never turning a girl away from a club, instead working to nurture
enjoyment and confidence through a strong team environment.
Sophie gives students the opportunity to get involved in
a range of activities throughout the school year, with morning and lunchtime
clubs run during the week as well as an all-inclusive non-squad ‘fun’ netball
session. Team fixtures also take place three to four times a week for girls to get
involved with. These additional activities have seen a great turnout, with 45 Year
9 girls involved in the netball team in the last year.
Sophie has built strong relationships with her classes
and can often be found engaging in conversation with her students in the school
corridors. Sophie’s strong bond with her students allows her to inspire members
of her classes to play at a higher level by encouraging them to try out for
Outside of school, Sophie sits on the Middlesex
Athletics and Netball committees and works hard to provide her students with
amazing opportunities through her strong connection with local teams.
Ensuring girls of all abilities can take part in the
classes is essential to Sophie’s teaching style. To maximise the enjoyment
levels of each student regardless of ability levels, Sophie meticulously plans
her sessions to ensure all students can take something valuable from her
lessons. However, the importance of having fun is not lost in Sophie’s classes,
with the cricket inspired game ‘catch the birdie’ a personal favourite of her long
list of fun warm up games for the kids.
Sophie offers her thoughts on engaging girls with
sporting activities on a regular basis: “The importance of playing sport is
clear as it develops a range of life skills which pupils can’t develop through
many other activities. From my own experience, the dedication that sport can
teach you, the resilience to get up and train when you are cold, tired and exhausted,
sets you up well for later life. I also think pupils feel better
psychologically and physically after sport; having a good run around can make
you feel refreshed and ready for the day ahead.”
Sophie also comments on what it would mean to be
named London Sports Teacher of the Year: “From the age of 11, I only ever wanted to be a PE teacher. I just
love teaching and coaching – as cliché as that sounds. Seeing every pupil
achieve their best, no matter what that level is, fuels me every day to get up
for work and deliver even more for my students. It would mean a lot to win the
award, but the fact that someone was kind enough to nominate me in the first
place is an achievement in itself.”
TeamUp is a joint initiative launched in
2016 by the England & Wales Cricket Board, England Hockey and England
Netball. Its goal is to maximise the legacy of three consecutive home women’s
World Cups between 2017-2019 and ensure that thousands
of seven to 13-year-old girls across the country have the chance to play team
The initiative was given a significant
boost in May 2017 when Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) committed over
£650,000 to extend the initiative within the London
boroughs and provide local delivery support for London schools and additional
opportunities for girls to participate in sport. Schools can access this
support by registering at www.teamupengland.com and
applying for support.
Four teachers have been shortlisted for London’s
Sports Teacher of the Year Award and have been invited to
the Vitality Netball SuperLeague Grand Final on Saturday 7th July.
The winner will be announced and presented with their award during the match.
For more information about TeamUp and how your school can apply for London support, please visit: www.teamupengland.com.