Children with disabilities and special needs in North Suffolk have benefitted hugely from Panathlon’s relationships with schools in the area – and Jeffrey Hoey has been a key figure in much of that success.

Jeffrey is Partnership Development Manager at North Suffolk Sport & Health Partnership and has enabled Panathlon to engage with schools and grow our programmes in the area exponentially for the last eight years.

Panathlon now reaches over 400 disabled and SEN students each year in North Suffolk. Jeffrey highlights the true success of the partnership as seeing schools embedding Panathlon in their curriculum through before and after-school clubs and weekly inclusive activities.

Jeffrey commented: “Panathlon also has many other virtues: one is it’s invaluable for enabling disabled children in our mainstream secondary schools to compete with those from the special schools. This is fantastic because the games are all inclusive and engaging.

“Another virtue is how it helps schools develop a whole-school approach to physical education, showing them that sport and physical activity are necessary and vital for SEN children.”

As a result of Jeffrey and Panathlon’s partnership, North Suffolk now has a young leaders programme, primary and secondary multisport Panathlon competitions, a swimming gala, boccia and football.

A knock-on effect of Jeffrey’s work with schools in the area has been Panathlon extending its support to the Active Learning Trust in Lowestoft.

Another important aspect has been the link with The Ashley Special School and engagement of their students as Young Leaders. They have developed a programme over the years to include modules such as boccia on the syllabus.

“The Young Leaders have learned a tremendous amount through Panathlon: the activities, the rules, the delivery and the officiating,” states Jeffrey.

“Their confidence has meant they have officiated many times at Panathlon events and greatly improve at boccia. Watching them officiate alongside mainstream leaders has made me very proud.

“As a school we have benefited from learning through training courses, the disability events they run, and the sports we can now be involved in. We have been able to have an impact also on the younger ones in school with internal competitions.”

Many schools that Jeffrey has involved in Panathlon echo what he believes is the true marker of success – embedding Panathlon within school sport activities.

Johnny Lee at Red Oak School said: “Red Oak have completely immersed themselves in the ethos of Panathlon. We run lunchtime and after-school clubs using Panathlon equipment and sports, have entered competitions and have organised and hosted competitions for Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils from surrounding schools in the Active Learning Trust.

“The school identified groups of children in every year group who would benefit from weekly Panathlon intervention sessions, where they could develop their coordination, teamwork skills, sportsmanship and social skills, as well as enhance their values of self-confidence and self-pride, thus developing both their physical skills and boosting their mental health.”

Stewart McKenzie, a PE teacher at Albert Pye School in Beccles, commented: “The Panathlon equipment is now so embedded in our school that our children are very familiar and comfortable with all the activities, which are so suited and beneficial to them. It’s certainly PE premium well spent and shows Panathlon’s ripple effect at participating schools.”

Pakefield High School teaching assistant Sarah Cropley added: “Our SEN students wouldn’t normally compete at school, so to get this chance is amazing. We now have boccia clubs at school. Panathlon is a massive, positive influence and we seek to get involved as many times as we possibly can.”

Jeffrey sums up: ‘Every school that has attended our Panathlon events has been left feeling inspired to offer their pupils even more opportunities due to the fun the children have had. Panathlon has given our schools a vehicle to embed their energy for supporting young disabled people.”

Panathlon wishes to thank Jeffrey Hoey for his support of Panathlon and the drive he has shown in developing SEN sport in the area. We would also like to thank the Emma Holloway Foundation for their ongoing financial support that enables these activities to take place.