Schoolchildren from Years 1-6 and their PE Staff were invited along to Ursuline College for the ‘Key Steps Gymnastics Development Festival’ this morning.

The event consisted of coaching sessions for the pupils and also gave the staff a chance to improve their subject knowledge of the fantastic ‘Key Steps’ program.

‘Key Steps’ is an initiative from British Gymnastics that focuses on the basic principles of the sport and gives participants a set of skills to learn and goals to strive for as they become more accomplished. Pupils attending today’s event will work on the drills they have learned as they approach the Thanet Schools Gymnastics Tournament later in the year. The program also serves to improve gymnastics within the Key Stage 1&2 Curriculum.

The event was great fun and very dynamic from start to finish. After a group warm-up, the four schools – St Nicholas-at-Wade, Priory Infants, Ellington Infants and St Joseph’s – were coached through the Key Steps program by their own staff, under the expert guidance of Mesia Willis, one of the coaches from Greenhill Gymnastics Club, Herne Bay.

I spoke with one group of pupils from St Joseph’s who told me they had really enjoyed their morning. Some of them belonged to gymnastics clubs outside of school but others were experiencing this style of coaching for the first time. Some of the youngest pupils at the event – one proudly informed me she was “Five and three quarters” – were from Ellington Infant School, and they were grinning from ear to ear as they told me how much fun they’d had.

‘Fun’ seemed to sum the event up, and that is testament to the staff and coaches who attend these Sports Festivals. Their positive relationships with the children are fantastic to see and can only help enrich the experiences of these youngsters as they progress through school.

Thank you to Stephanie, the Thanet School Games Organiser, for inviting me along to this excellent Gymnastics Festival and thanks to all of the staff and students for making me, once again, feel so welcome. Good luck in the competition later in the year … I hope to see you all there.

Please take a look through our gallery of the festival and feel free to share this article with anyone who may be interested.