Panathlon has launched a new Grand Prix Finals series – with competitive events taking place simultaneously across multiple venues.

The new concept began on 22 January with concurrent West London and East London Primary 10-pin bowling finals in Ealing and Havering respectively. Panathlon’s event managers at each event compared scores and were able to announce an overall London winner.

The next events in the Grand Prix Finals series will take place in Essex on 1 February with more primary 10-pin bowling and then a North West Regional Primary Final on 28 February, where events will take place across three venues in Carlisle, Cheshire Oaks and Bolton.

The Grand Prix concept was conceived following responses to our event feedback survey, which was launched before Christmas. Many participating schools highlighted transport as a major obstacle to being able to take part in our competitions.

Thus, staging multiple finals locally and comparing scores with simultaneous events in other areas allows schools to test themselves at higher level of competiton without having to travel long distances.

Henry Green Primary, from Dagenham, were crowned winners at the inaugural Grand Prix event by virtue of winning the final in East London with a higher score than the winners over in West London. All competing teams at both venues had qualified through success in local Panathlon competitions last year.

David, captain of the Henry Green team, said: “This is a big moment for me. It proves to people at my school that we can do anything. All of my team got strikes!Nothing else is better than winning as a team.”

Team-mate Kathleen said: “I feel so happy that we won for our whole school. We showed everyone else that we can achieve whatever we want. I feel really excited. I’m going to put my medal somewhere safe so the cat doesn’t scratch it!”

PE teacher Lee Hughes added: “The impact of Panathlon competitions on the children is amazing. We’ve got several children who would never usually be able to compete in anything sporting. It’s such a good building block for them – the inclusivity of it is brilliant.

“We explained the structure of the competition to the pupils and they understood it. Since we got through the qualifying event they have been asking me about this every day for weeks, so to win it is just indescribable for them.”

Mr Hughes’ opposite number over in Ealing was Kevin Quinn from Charville Academy in Hayes, who won the West London Final (pictured above) but narrowly missed out on the overall London champions title to Henry Green.

Mr Quinn said: “This is a massive boost to their confidence. It puts them up there with their peers in the school netball or football team. This gives them gravitas with the other kids.

“We don’t tell them it’s a SEND competition – as far as we’re concerned it’s an external sporting event just like any mainstream event. They’re riding high. They felt like they were included. For the last two weeks, since I put the team list up on the board, they’ve been walking around the school like they were champions already.”

Alfie, a Year 4 pupil in the Charville Academy team, was named ‘champion bowler’. Mr Quinn said: “The shock on his face when he got that was ridiculous. When I told him he got to keep the trophy he was overjoyed. We’re so proud of them.”

Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “The Grand Prix format is an opportunity for us to overcome one of the main barriers to participation that schools are telling us about in our feedback survey – accessibility and transport.

“Local events that are part of a bigger competitive structure are an innovative way to remove that barrier. They give SEND pupils a chance to be part of something bigger than just the event they’re attending. We’re now looking forward to the next events in the Finals Series. The potential is massive.”