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Oban high’s School of Rugby programme kicked off with a single first year class in 2011.
Fast forward 10 years and the initiative has grown considerably. As well as second and third year pupils now enjoying the thrills and spills of the oval ball game, the ‘School of” programme now includes shinty, traditional music and dance.
Originally run in partnership with the SRU with funding from CashBack for Communities, the School of Rugby structure has largely remained the same since its origin. Students sign up and commit to the programme at the start of the year with the expectation they will attend an additional rugby session in class time as well as after school sessions.
Murray Hamilton, Oban High School principal teacher of PE, explained: ‘The main ethos is not that of producing excellence but of developing the whole child. It just happens the method of doing this is through rugby.’
Since 2011, the school has used a number of delivery models and had regional development officers and club coaches deliver the sessions as well as qualified PE teachers. There have been theory based sessions and the school has also supported a number of modern apprenticeships through the school of rugby at Oban High School.
‘The benefits of participating in a programme like this are massive and fit well with the significant aspects of learning in physical education as well as the wider Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes,’ added Murray.
‘There is also a strong influence from Oban High School’s values of respect, ambition, resilience and compassion.’
The School of Rugby programme also works in partnership with Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club (RFC). Murray, who also plays an active role within the club, added: ‘One of the biggest benefits of our community is that there is one school for all the students and one local club, so every student we have playing rugby in Oban High School can also play for Oban Lorne RFC.
‘Having one school and one club allows us to work together and provide lots of options for our students to play the game.
‘We now boast more than 100 registered players at Oban High School which is fantastic. The challenge by the end of S6 is to ensure students continue to play sport as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.’
One of Murray’s personal targets when he started teaching in Oban was to build rugby playing numbers and have a boys and girls team at each age group so that the game was available to all students regardless of their experience or socio-economic background.
With the support of head teacher Peter Bain the School of Rugby and school sport in general has grown.
‘I really like the School of Rugby model and feel it fits in well with the ethos of the whole school,’ said Murray who is looking forward to taking students on an international trip once restrictions allow. This year the School of Rugby had planned an exchange visit to the South of France, something which it is hoped will happen in the near future.
One of the main challenges School of Rugby faces is funding, whether it be staffing the classes, playing and training kit for students, equipment or travel costs. Any support from local companies would be greatly appreciated.