FIVEMILETOWN College has had to adjust to life under lockdown and Covid restrictions. A school spokesperson writes below about how the school has coped with the past year.

Here we are a year on, with schools embracing the ever-changing nature of education and, to be honest, daily life.

Like all other schools, the staff and students at Fivemiletown College have managed a complete lockdown, a return to school with teaching in ‘bubble rooms’, ‘blended learning’, ‘no changing rooms’, ‘no sharing of equipment’, and not forgetting the social constraints within a school day – and now, a further lockdown, where ‘remote learning’ has been the sole vehicle to ensure continuity.

As we look to the future, there will no doubt be many lessons that we have learned; methods that we will now maintain, and more than ever a sense of hope that we as humans can appreciate the world more.

Adjusting to remote learning in Fivemiletown College at first appeared to be a daunting task for both staff and pupils. Nevertheless, nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

With this in hand, the PE staff capitalised on this opportunity to ensure that the school continued to be a centre of excellence at the heart of the community, where everyone aimed to maximise potential.

Not short of a few challenges such as societal uncertainty, technology, wifi connections and bandwidth, to name but a few; this did not dampen the inspiration from staff and the engagement from pupils.

As a department, innovative, meaningful and challenging content was set to enthuse and engage all learners.

Safety was always a priority but the emphasis was also on the importance of prioritising health and wellbeing. Amongst the many tasks set were weekly quizzes on various PE curriculum topics, teacher-led workouts, Strava House Challenge, Homecourt App Challenge and Tik-Tok dance creations.

The workouts also involved some local fitness entrepreneurs, such as ‘MattyC Fitness’ and ‘RAW Performance Gym Omagh’. Expert guidance was provided by Matty Callaghan and Jonny McKeown, respectively.

The Strava House Challenge for staff and pupils ran from January-February Half term, with an impressive 1,434 miles being covered.

The other challenges became addictive for the user with the HomeCourt being an AI-induced fitness/basketball workout, bringing numeracy in the PE classroom, while those dancing shoes were merged with a workout via Tik-Tok.

Not stopping at this, the PE department also had students join the ‘Jerusalema Challenge’, and then extended this to a staff production that attracted significant effort on the school’s social media pages.

Engagement, enthusiasm and fun were high on the agenda at a time when this was exactly what the doctor ordered. 

The Head of PE in the College, Philip Wallace, was the driving force on the activity front. As we now near a return to school post-Easter, he reviews the efforts as a great success.

“For all the activities and challenges set, it was fantastic to see students engaged, enthused and our efforts benefitting all members of the family. Feedback has been so positive from all directions and brings satisfaction to the department and the school as a whole,” he said.

Adding to this success is the news that the Education Authority are in the process of upgrading the two grass pitches at Bohatton Lane – with 2022 seeing two sand-based grass pitches ready for rugby and football.

These will add to the already extensive range of superb sporting facilities at the College; a full-size astro, athletics track, 4-court sports hall, technogym fitness suite, 20m indoor heated swimming pool and five compressed rubber tennis courts.

Team sport has been significantly impacted over the past 12 months and it will be great to see a return to action in Fivemiletown, as the school realigns its core focus – child-centred education in a face-to-face manner.