SCHOOL SPORT: A CALL has gone out from the Widnes Primary Schools Sports Association for everyone to play the game.
The organisation's secretary said this week academic research has 'indicated very strongly' the importance of play in the lives of young children - and the dangers of children experiencing a narrow curriculum, which is too formal.
But Roger Harrison, also headteacher at St Gerard's Primary, stressed that despite the association's success, not all schools appreciated its key role.
In his annual report, he said: 'It is perhaps unfortunate that not all our schools fully embrace these ideals and fully commit themselves to our activities.
'Perhaps that should now be one of our roles to encourage all schools within the Widnes area of Halton to take part fully.
'We have, I believe, begun to push back the pendulum away from the strict push for academic vigour in numeracy and literacy at the expense of all else.'
'We need to continue this process until we have an equitable balance.'
Mr Harrison said the association's remit was with children being healthy, staying safe and enjoying and achieving.
He added: 'We provide opportunities both in the curriculum and as extra-curricular activities to en-courage our children to be healthy and stay healthy.
'In all aspects of our organisation, we have safety as an important part of our thinking.
'More than this, a healthy child is also a safer child in terms of general well-being, self-esteem and self-worth.'
Mr Harrison explained the association was also laying a foundation for children making a positive contribution to community and society and achieving economic well-being.
He said: 'Children who are actively engaged in sporting activities are less likely to become involved in 'unsocial activities' within the community.
'Such children, if their talents are developed, are more likely to be able to achieve economic well-being through their sport.
'Healthier children are more capable of achieving and sustaining economic well-being.
'Therefore as an association we should not take our role lightly.'
Mr Harrison stressed the WPSSA is 'not afraid' of competition.
'All children are by their very nature competitive,' he insisted. 'At the same time, we want as many children as possible to be included in all of our activities.
'During the last year, we did in fact continue to offer to our children opportunities to express themselves in an enjoyable fashion in a competitive way.
'Children with outstanding ability were able to progress - for example, via the Halton Schools Football Association, Widnes Schools Rugby League Town Team and representatives of Halton at the Merseyside Youth Games.
'Following the lead of the Sports Development team, more schools are becoming interested in a greater range of sports and multi-skills activities.
'This is surely more in-keeping with the Primary National Strategy and is to be applauded.
'More schools are accessing various expert coaching as part of after-school activities and PPA-designated time. This is for the good of our children.'