Usually major school-wide leadership and managerial changes are implemented after much consultancy and discussion, which affords the relevant parties a sense of agency.
However our situation regarding girls’ cricket, which was presented as a fait accompli, afforded us no such autonomy. It turned out to be a winning decision and makes one think that perhaps, on occasion, consultancy and discussion are not necessarily the only path to wholesome changes being implemented.
Three years ago there was a significant development in girls’ summer sport at Cottesmore with a move away from rounders towards cricket. It wasn’t hugely clear from where the wider decision originated but the Department for Education cut rounders from the Sport GCSE in 2015, so perhaps it started there. The change is now fully implemented and Cottesmore also fields teams which include both boys and girls. In fact, this has been happening for a long time at Cottesmore, but it is now mainstream practice.
“The decision to switch to cricket was presented as a fait accompli but it turned out to be a winning decision.”
As well as having a passion for cricket, I love rounders so was a bit surprised at the sudden and unsolicited move to abolish it. I know for example that former chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association and hugely successful headteacher Christian Heinrich was never as much of a fan of rounders as I was but Christian now runs a highly successful educational consultancy, so his view on rounders doesn’t seem to have hampered his progress.
From an independent school management perspective, at the time it was an awkward feeling being told, “this is what you are doing at your school now,” and it was also vague from where the directive was coming.
The apparent and uncited answer was that rounders wasn’t a proper sport because it didn’t have a grand international presence. I was never convinced about this argument: fives, real tennis and croquet and our own “Cottesmore handball” are hardly played worldwide but they still hold an important place in the Cottesmore sporting repertoire.
The most uplifting aspect of daily “games” at Cottesmore is the togetherness of the moment and this has been strengthened several-fold with the introduction of girls’ cricket.
Cottesmore strongly endorses the concept of “games” every afternoon rather than occasional “PE” lessons scattered throughout the week. The whole school spills out onto the sports fields in the mid-afternoon in some sort of gloriously purposeful sporting dance. The sight is a marvellous one and is something to behold – the teachers see the pupils in a different context and everyone flushes the cobwebs out of their systems before the last lessons and activities of the day.
“Girls’ cricket has turned out to be a fantastic addition to the seasonal sporting carousel at Cottesmore.”
Obviously there are a minority of heel-draggers at the beginning of the seasons but they all always come around to the idea eventually, especially after a couple of exciting match days. Every boy, girl and coach is taking part, in unison, in the same endeavour: to play and enjoy cricket. What a purpose – the highest perhaps.
With multiple dynamic versions of the game now available, girls’ cricket has turned out to be a fantastic addition to the seasonal sporting carousel at Cottesmore.
Cottesmore was a speedy and competent adopter of girls’ cricket and luckily the cricket coaching team at Cottesmore is boundlessly energetic so we were in excellent shape for our full list of girls cricketing fixtures last term, winning considerably more than we lost (not that that is the only measure of success, obviously).
“Luckily the cricket coaching team is boundlessly energetic.”
Cottesmore School is investing a huge amount in girls’ sport and sport in general. One of the major ongoing projects is carving a new full size girls’ cricket pitch out of an area called ‘the slope”. The project is proving to be a labour of love with the weather as it has been this summer, but we battle on.
Girls’ cricket at Cottesmore School is in good hands. Eliza, in this video, opened the batting for top West Sussex cricket team Horsham this week. Another Cottesmorian cricketer, George, opened with her.
Girls’ cricket is clearly an excellent and obvious idea. The girls at Cottesmore also play football, touch rugby, hockey and netball as well as an enormous number of other sports such as tennis, swimming, golf, paddle-boarding and archery to name just a few. After all, why should boys have all the fun?