Panathlon training came to Gloucestershire in a big way this month, with over 90 teachers and students receiving an introduction to Panathlon activities ahead of the county’s Primary Panathlon Challenge competition programme.

First up, 42 teachers and sports education undergraduates got some fresh ideas for getting young disabled children involved in sport through a range of Panathlon activities, before 51 Hartpury College students trained to become Panathlon Officials ahead of the 2015 Gloucestershire School Games, in which disabled students will compete in a county-wide Primary Panathlon Final.

The teachers, from a mixture of special schools and mainstream primary and secondary schools, got ideas for how to introduce Panathlon activities – including New Age Kurling, Polybat, Boccia Blast and Messi Football – into PE lessons to develop their students’ skills before they get involved in Panathlon competition begin next year.

Teacher Dan Tyreman couldn’t wait to start working with pupils at Berkeley School ahead of getting a team together for their first Panathlon Challenge in 2015.

“We will certainly look at buying some of this equipment and setting up lunch time clubs for our students,” he said. “We have many who are unable to take part in mainstream sports. It will be great to give them an opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”

As well as benefitting teachers and pupils in participating schools, the training would also provide valuable experience for the university students taking part, according to Lesley Martin, organiser of the Gloucestershire School Games.

“It’s great for the sports education students to try out first hand activities specifically designed for Physically Impaired students, and further those with severe learning difficulties,” she said.

The 2015 Gloucestershire School Games will take place at Hartpury College, so it was the perfect venue for 51 students from the college to train to become Panathlon Officials. The 2015 Finals will be preceded by area Primary Panathlon’s in the County with over 100 young disabled people expected to be invovled.

The students learnt the rules of Panathlon’s sports for secondary students – including Boccia and Table Cricket – along with activities for Primary Panathlon – including Flight Path and Parachute Popcorn – enabling them to officiate in the Glocestershire wide Primary Panathlon Finals and run a local multi-sport competition.

Dan Robinson, Teacher at Hartpury College, said: “Part of our dream here has been to get our second year college students involved in disability sport, initially by giving them training in specialist areas and then getting them involved with events.

“The training Panathlon offers gives them insight into the different activities that disabled students play and will give them the knowledge they need to officiate at the School Games.”

We look forward to seeing Hartpury College at the Primary Panathlon on School Games Finals day next year and we have every confidence that they will do a fantastic job!