Panathlon has given children with special needs at Hafod Y Wern Community Primary School the opportunity to “challenge themselves without being judged.”

That’s the view of Abigail Russell, Resourced Provision Teacher at the school in Wrexham. Their pupils have taken part in several Panathlon competitions as we’ve expanded throughout North Wales in the last four years.

We spoke to Abigail to ask about Panathlon’s impact on pupils and the school as a whole.

What difference has Panathlon made to your pupils with SEND?

The Panathlon has allowed the pupils to experience team activities that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to take part in. Panathlon has given them the chance to challenge themselves without being judged and has given them the confidence to take part in more sporting activities.

How has it enhanced the sport/PE offering that they had before?

It has given myself as a teacher more sporting activities to do with the pupils that they enjoy and that are not too complex.

Some of our schools in rural areas like yours say it helps SEND pupils feel less isolated – is that the case with you too?

I feel that even within busy areas there is not much that targets children with SEND therefore they lack the opportunity to join teams and build up their skills. Sporting activities are supposed to be inclusive but they do not always understand the children’s needs and therefore struggle to cater for them.

Has it opened staff’s eyes in any ways about what’s possible in terms of SEND PE and sport?

We feel that we knew what was possible for our children with SEND, it was just about finding the right places that facilitate the children’s needs and show patience and understanding. It has given me a better knowledge on how to expand the range of sports activities that they take part in.

Thanks Abi!