Those of you who have been following Touchline will already know a fair bit about the planned School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) programme. I am pleased to report that it is now up and running and entering its third week. Just to recap we are working with 20 year nine students from Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood who are at risk of exclusion from school or significantly under performing in their academic achievements. Although it is early days in the overall three year programme the Hertswood students are responding really well and I have already been asked by six of them if they can join Tabard. Don’t worry I am working on the others. Quote from one of the boys after his first session, ”I never knew rugby could be this much fun”
Their SOHK’s day takes place every Wednesday and starts in the school with specialist mentoring focused on three key themes related to students’ identities, why they behave in the way they do and what their goals are, Who Am I, Why Am I and Where I am going. At 12:30 I pick them up in the Tabard minibus to transport them to Cobden Hill where we have lunch followed by an afternoon of rugby coaching.
Although none of the boys have ever played rugby before they are really enjoying their early experiences and we are building up to a first session of contact next week helping the students to deal with anger management issues. In readiness the students prepared their own gum shields in the clubhouse kitchen last week with the hot water kettle in high demand.
I am very excited on their behalf as they are now working towards their first ever game of rugby next month. This will take place at Harrow School on November 15 and will involve another four schools also running the SOHK programme.
Call me biased but the game of rugby inspires a stronger sense of camaraderie than any other. For the students that we have been working with over the past three weeks I can see that it is starting to provide the validation, motivation and sense of belonging that is needed to get them back on track whilst at the same time increasing our playing membership.
Watch this space...