Teachers at this week’s Panathlon Xtend competition at Brunel University hailed the event for giving them “so many ideas” to implement with SEND pupils back at school. 

Six teams competed in our Hillingdon Xtend competition (for Key Stage 3 pupils) on Monday 12 June at university’s sports complex in Uxbridge, west London. 

The eventual winners after a tight competition were Barnhill Community High School. Teacher Mr Gardener said: “Our pupils were itching to come out, so to win it is very unexpected. They have all had a really good time!”  

Another teacher, Miss Poole said: “The students have engaged with the activities really well. They have given me lots of ideas for the playground as socially the activities have really brought everyone together.” 

Pupils Brandon and Oliver from the winning Barnhill team said: “We were nervous but really excited that we’ve won.” 

The Panathletes were ably assisted by 21 Young Leaders from Swakeleys School for Girls who officiated the sports and provided guidance to the youngsters.  

One of the leaders, Harmony, said: “It’s a really fun experience because all the kids are enthusiastic. We helped give the kids more confidence and allowed them to feel more included within a team in a great sporting atmosphere.”  

Fellow Young Leader, Mya, added: “It proves that even if you have disabilities you can still experience the same sporting atmosphere as others. Since the kids don’t get enough of this sort of experience, this is a great opportunity for them.” 

Helping the Swakeleys pupils were a dozen Sports Science students from Brunel University who also volunteered their services as Young Leaders. 

One student, Gurden, said: “What the children are doing is great. We are providing them with opportunities in a self-contained and inclusive environment, where the kids can be themselves, and we’re very happy to be a part of it.” 

Dr Helen Ives, Senior Lecturer (Education) in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Brunel University said: “Our partnership with Panathlon gives Brunel students an exciting opportunity to understand inclusion through participation in sport.” 

Colleague Dr Carla Harkness-Armstrong, Lecturer in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences (Biomechanics), said: “It is so pleasing to see Brunel University host this event and secondly to see all the children welcomed in such an inclusive environment.” 

The event was organised in coordination with Becci Cole, the local School Games Organiser, who engaged the six competing schools in the opportunity. 

She said: “It’s amazing to get all the schools here, especially the mainstream ones, so that these kids get the opportunities that they wouldn’t usually get.” 

Peta Cubberley, Senior Partnerships Officer at the Jack Petchey Foundation, said: “As a Foundation, we know how important Panathlon is to the young people, their teachers, parents and carers. We love being able to provide these opportunities to young people who enjoy participating and competing.

“Talking to so many of them at the events, it’s clear they are relishing the experience, gaining confidence and having a great day out with their peers. Thanks to all the Panathlon staff, the host organisations, the schools and teachers for making it happen.”

Special thanks also to Ali Vayani, one of the Sports Science students at Brunel, for interviewing the competitors, leaders, students and teachers for this article.