Burnt Mill Academy Trust joined the ‘Panathlon family’ in 2017/18 and have provided Young Leaders in three competitions so far. Director of Sport Phil Dawes calls it “one of our biggest successes this year”.

The Burnt Hill Academy Trust consists of four secondary schools and five primaries all based in Harlow, Essex. Panathlon events have greatly augmented the skills of pupils on their leadership programmes, some of whom have special educational needs themselves.

Panathlon COO Tony Waymouth firstly helped upskill staff and students at training days and courses before they were given the opportunity to officiate and assist competitors at the East of England Multisports Final in February, the Essex Primary Swimming Final at the London Aquatics Centre and the recent East Region Deaf Boccia Final.


“Working with the children has been brilliant for them,” said Phil. “It helps them develop, seeing all kinds of different needs people have and how to deal with them up-close. It teaches them to treat people with disabilities normally, rather than differently.

“It’s great for them to get on with them and have a laugh or a joke. It’s lovely to see that kind of interaction. It’s also really helping our leadership programme at the school, giving kids great opportunities and some amazing places to go, such as the Olympic Park.”

Training for Young Leader duties with Panathlon has been of particular benefit to a group of current Year 10 students who themselves have SEND.

Phil said: “We’re seeing some real success stories with kids who have not been engaged in PE at all. All of a sudden they have really come out of themselves and love working with the children. They are more empathetic with the SEN children because a lot of them might have similar needs themselves.

“One lad, Josh Higgins, PE is not his thing. He’s on the autistic spectrum and doesn’t like anyone touching him. At one point we were doing a training session with kids from a primary school in our Trust, just on a trampoline. Next thing I knew, the kid had grabbed his hands and they were bouncing up and down together. It was quite a powerful moment. He has really blossomed and the Teaching Assistant at the Panathlon noticed how well he was doing and the transformation in him.”