Harnessing the Power of Collaboration to Create Role Models

Oliver Nolan-Davies

Digital Communications and Marketing Officer at The Portsmouth Grammar School

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The power of role models cannot be underestimated when it comes to inspiring our young people. One of our core values at The Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) is collaboration. This is epitomised by our sports department who have been using the power of role models to influence our pupils.

Pupil-to-Pupil Role Modelling

One way that we have begun to implement the power of role modelling is through collaboration between our younger and older pupils, especially in our sports department. This week we hold our junior and infant sports days, these are great days full of activities, picnics and hopefully good weather. This year we have invited a number of our Year 12 pupils to come and support our Years 3 to 6 pupils.

This is part of a whole school approach at PGS, meaning that rather than seeing our school as a junior and senior school, we operate as one.

By asking Year 12 to come and support the younger pupils we give both years the opportunity to grow as athletes.

Mr. Alex Chappell, Assistant Director of Sport and Physical Education at PGS, stated: “The older pupils get a lot out of the junior sports days as they are able to remember where they started and can see how much they have improved. For our younger pupils it’s great, the Year 12s offer so much encouragement and really try to implement a growth mindset within the junior school’s athletes.”

This term we have seen a record number of pupils attending athletics. Miss Amy Chaplin, Head of Athletics, puts this down to a sense of community created by having multiple year groups in attendance, with two of our English Schools Standard athletes coaching.

Miss Chaplin highlights the importance of role models stating: “Role modelling is really important for young people, because as much as I tell them that running is great and they will love it. They’re more convinced when someone, a little bit, closer to their age says so.”

Collaboration between younger and older pupils is not uncommon at PGS. The under 11s rugby team cheered out the Under 18 side as they began a cup match, the two teams even warmed up together beforehand. We have hosted over 20 festivals for under 8 to under 11 sides, across various sports. One of which was an under 8 netball tournament, run with the support of the under 14 team.

Role Models at Home

PGS encourages role models not just within school, but at home too. We achieve this through collaboration. Our family events grant parents and pupils the opportunity to work together in a fun and friendly way through sport.

At the beginning of the academic year, we hosted Year 7 parents for “introduction to rugby” and “introduction to hockey” events at our playing fields so that parents could understand our training philosophy and how the team works to support pupils. In January, we hosted family circuit training. Pupils went around the course with a parent or guardian, jumping through hoops, skipping rope, and throwing balls. We also host a family fun run to test and improve fitness levels.

A popular family event is the parent and pupil cricket match. Pupils partner up with their chosen guardian as they bat, field, throw and catch.

“Parents and guardians are the most common role models for children,” said Mr. Chappell. “So, it is important for schools to present opportunities for families to interact in a friendly and healthy way outside of the home.”

Teachers are Role Models

Many famous athletes have claimed that their biggest inspiration was their schoolteacher. From Jessica Ennis-Hill and Gareth Bale to Joe Harten and Ian Wright, all incredible athletes in their chosen sport and all have spoken about the impact teachers have had on their career.

Teachers at PGS work hard to inspire pupils, not just verbally but through their actions. Whether they are running the Great South Run or undertaking a cycling challenge, as Mr. Alex Leach did.

The challenge was for PGS to cycle to Uganda where we are partners in learning with Kikaaya College School. Mr. Leach, Head of Hockey, cycled in the school’s playground for an entire school day, achieving over 200 km (about 124.27 mi) in 7 hours. He then cycled the entire width of the UK, a further 330 km. Mr. Leach laid the baton down for the rest of the school. Asking students to cycle over the summer holiday to complete the final 6000 km.

Additionally, we enjoy adding a bit of fun and competitiveness between the teachers and pupils. Last term there was a match played between PGS staff and the Leavers’ hockey team. Next week will be the annual Pupil v Staff cricket match.

At The Portsmouth Grammar School, the power of role models is harnessed through collaboration across all age groups. Our sports initiatives highlight pupil-to-pupil and teacher-led role modeling, encouraging growth and community. Family events further strengthen these bonds, encouraging healthy, supportive interactions at home. This approach not only nurtures athletic talent but also instills lasting values of collaboration and courage in our students.


19 June 2024