Sport Matters

Miss Coutts-Wood, Director of Sport at WHS, reflects upon the impact of the pandemic on the provision of sport during Guided Home Learning and looks at the mental health benefits that can be gained from participating in exercise.

The pandemic really has been a leveler. Impacting all schools, regardless of their sporting prowess or previous victories; Covid-19 has not discriminated. State or private, boarding or day, acres of immaculately manicured playing fields or no onsite facilities to your name, all PE Departments have had to suspend fixtures, modify training and see their staff take on the role as Wicks impersonators. An obviously practical subject, PE was cast under an intense spotlight as the importance of the physical and emotional benefits of Sport were once again well versed by the press.

As a department, we knew we needed to keep up fitness, maintain skill level and preserve morale, all from across Teams. We found new ways to motivate, to inspire and to keep the WHS community active during GHL. The Rowers baked (competitively of course), drew shapes with their Strava runs and took up yoga, the Junior Swimmers taught their teddies to dive in the bath and the Netballers spent most of their season on the floor of their living room honing their core strength for when they return to court! Whatever the exercise, we all know sport plays an important role contributing to personal growth, helping foster friendships and allowing a much-needed break away from the inevitable increased screen time that GHL created. As staff, we really focused our energy during Strong Body Strong Mind week, to reinforce the message that exercise comes in all shapes and sizes; physical activity can be bespoke and tailored to suit individuals, time frames, fitness levels, space and motivations. We really hope that this message has been taken on board by all pupils, staff and parents, regardless of sporting background.

Despite the challenges we all faced, we must reflect on the time that we had to focus on different aspects of our usual sports provision; we collaborated with schools outside of our weekly fixture programme (King’s in the Battle of Wimbledon, NHEHS with our Hockey and Netball workshops), we joined together for the Community Morning Energizers (reminding ourselves how much joy can be gained from dancing along to Cha-Cha Slide at 8am), and we had time to pick and choose which aspects of getting physically active we enjoy the most.

Despite the time to reflect and the greater appreciation of in–person sport, as Physical Educationalists and Coaches, being back in person with the girls and having the ‘buzz’ of in-person sport return to Nursery Road cannot be underestimated. Risk Assessment and equipment cleaning has been crucial to a safe return to sport and with this necessity aside, being back together has reinforced the absolute joy that each one of us takes in our job! Mrs Salt was particularly thrilled that her online dance choreography was translated into a very competent performance by her Year 7 class once we returned in March. This was a good reminder of what a success GHL provision had been but also of the joy of being back in person. If we needed further reminders, we all like to think we’re marginally savvier with digital technology than we were this time last year too.

It’s important that we remind ourselves that Sport really does matter. The positive physical impact of exercise has been well documented, but we must not forget the emotional and mental health benefits that can be gained from participating too – a reminder of some of these benefits are summarised below:

Emotional and Mental Benefits of Physical Activity

Manage Anxiety and Stress – in these uncertain times, what could be better than embarking on an activity known to decreases tension and help relaxation? Whether jumping on a trampoline or going for a cycle ride, activity can be an excellent distraction and means of escapism. Physical activity can also help to relax muscles, particularly in neck which is so important while we spend so many hours in front of screens.

Boosting Resilience – we have certainly all had to be resilient, responding to uncertainty and change over the last year. Exercise and physical activity can be a proactive way to help us develop our grit, determination and mental fortitude. Why not challenge your whole family to see who can hold a plank for the longest?

Enhance self-confidence – physical activity can be a great way to enhance your self-belief by accomplishment during exercise.Perhaps set yourself a summer term goal – you’ll feel so satisfied after you have achieved it.

Improve Mood, Concentration and Memory – the endorphin boost we get from the additional hormones released as a result of exercise such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine can make us feel amazing! So, I urge you to get out into the fresh air after school this week and find out for yourself!

Belonging – the feeling of connection by dog walking with family members, sharing a common goal of half-marathon training with your friend, or the camaraderie you get from hitting a tennis ball with some friends in a local park. Another one of the joys of exercise.

There is no right or wrong way to exercise. Relish the enjoyment of the face-to-face interaction and the community that sporting opportunities can create, or value the challenge and perseverance from overcoming a personal goal or reap the rewards from competition against others. Just ensure that whatever form the exercise takes, you carve out time for yourself to find movement that you love and that makes you happy. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been back on the tennis court, had a very chilly swim at my local lido and paddle boarded in the sea, all of which have been wonderful and make a refreshing change from running and online yoga sessions.

The recovery of sport across the country is not likely to be smooth and no doubt there will be many more adaptations to training schedules and fixture programmes in the future to help accommodate social distancing guidelines, however, what we can be certain of is that the love and passion that the community of WHS has for sport is stronger than ever. Sport matters.


Heisz J, Clark I, Bonin K, et al. The effects of physical exercise and cognitive training on memory and neurotrophic factors. J Cogn Neurosci. 2017;29(11):1895-1907.

Ratey, J. J. and Hagerman, E. (2008). Spark. London, Quercus.

Roman-Mata, S S. Putertas-molero, P. Ubago-Jimenez, J L. and Gonzalez-Valero, G. (2020). Benefits of Physical Activity and Its Associations with Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, and Psychological Distress in University Students from Southern Spain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 17(12), 4474. Available at:

Jaime-Lee, Head of Netball and Head of Year 10 at WHS, explores the journal article ‘Metacognition and Action’

Jaime-Lee, Head of Netball and Head of Year 10 at WHS, explores the journal article ‘Metacognition and Action’ to consider how to use metacognition to become elite in sport.

MacIntyre, T., Igou, E., Campbell, M., Moran, A. and Matthews, J. (2014). Metacognition and action: a new pathway to understanding social and cognitive aspects of expertise in sport. Frontiers in Psychology

Success in sport has traditionally centred around executing motor skills under competitive conditions. Sport provides benchmarks to distinguish the elite from the amateur, through performance outcomes (e.g. placing in a race), player statistics (e.g. shooting percentage in Basketball) or level of competition (e.g. National vs. County). In addition to the data that is readily available to all performers, athletes are looking beyond the strictly measurable in order to advance in their sporting area.

Metacognitive processes have become a pivotal part of an elite athlete’s repertoire to give them the competitive edge. In sport, metacognitive processes can be used in a variety of ways both in training and in competition. Below are some examples of how athletes can use metacognition to better their physical attributes.

  • The use of mental imagery and mental practice, in which athletes play out physical skills and/or scenarios in their mind. This could include, an athlete imagining themselves in the starting blocks, acknowledging all of their senses.
  • Pre-performance routines, in which an athlete engages systematically in a sequence of actions prior to their performance. This could include, stepping out an athlete’s run up in Long Jump or the position a ball is placed while taking a penalty kick.
  • The use of strategies and set plays, in which decision making is done prior to an athlete’s performance. This could include, anticipating your oppositions movements in Netball and planning counter moves.

The use of metacognitive process not only reduces the chances of error but maximises an athlete’s physical capabilities. Elite athletes need to be not just be experts in movement execution but also experts in controlling their own mental processes.


SLT Aims for 2020 Part 1

In this week’s edition of WimLearn, Malin, Ariana, Alice and Hannah discuss their aims for the year in their roles on the 2020 Student Leadership Team.

Malin (Sports Captain):

As sports captain for this coming academic year, I am absolutely thrilled to be back as a sporting community. In terms of the aims that I (and the P.E department) have, we really want to place an emphasis on instilling a strong sense of camaraderie between everyone. Excitingly, despite the tightened rules and regulations, we will be back into teams and squads (e.g. netball, hockey, rowing, swimming etc…) which I’m sure will be very fun for everyone involved (albeit that no external fixtures will be taking place).

The only bad aspect of playing sports at school is- I’m sure you can agree- having to wear the smelly and unpleasant sports bibs. This will no longer be an issue! Not only will bibs we washed frequently, but equipment will also be thoroughly disinfected. I hope that everyone is as excited as I am to be back playing sports with friends, and if anyone has any questions feel free to reach out to either the PE department, me, or any of the new sport specific captains!

Ariana (Admissions Ambassador):

As Admissions Ambassador my aims for this year include: improving the buddy system by getting the new girls and the girls present in the school to write interests and pair the girls using similar interests, have more conversations with girls about to go into year 12 to help them prepare for the jump from GCSE to A Levels and set up a society for girls joining the school to help them feel more comfortable in their first few weeks at WHS.

Following on from this I want to improve the inter-year bond between Year 11s going into Year 12 and the year above them by having more meetings (either online or in person due to COVID-19) when they know which form they are going to be with in order to help them adjust quicker.

Lastly, I would like to try set up a virtual tour for Wimbledon High School so that we can accommodate the COVID-19 situation allowing new parents to tour the school online as well as hopefully encouraging more prospective international pupils.

Alice (Editor in Chief of Unconquered Peaks):

As Editor in Chief of Unconquered Peaks, it is my aim for this year to publish articles that both inform and challenge readers. In the age of the Instagram infographic, which has become particularly ubiquitous in the wake of the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, nuance is more important than ever. It is important to be up to date with current affairs, but equally vital to understand issues and question things instead of taking things at face value.

My wonderful team of writers and I will endeavour to inspire critical thinking and a desire to explore. As well as offering interesting perspectives on the issues of the day, we will also be writing about things that we’re passionate about, from exciting areas of academia to our favourite books and films. I hope that Unconquered Peaks will keep everyone inspired and amused during this strange time!

Hannah (Charities & Partnerships rep):

The world as we know it has been turned upside down, in unimaginable ways over the past 6 months. Major charitable events (including the London Marathon and Glastonbury!) were cancelled, causing thousands of charities around the country to lose millions of pounds.

However, despite this adversity there is always hope. This year we will continue to support our partner charities, particularly Faith in Action, following the catastrophic increase in homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an unimaginable situation not having a roof over your head, or not knowing where your next meal will come from, and our alliance with London homeless charities is something I am keen to strengthen.

My primary aim for the coming academic year is to achieve this ongoing support; by raising awareness of individual causes both within school and our wider communities, encouraging everyone to get involved and take time out of their week to help others, and increasing our fundraising output by working towards the new charity targets.

This year, more than ever following the global pandemic, there will be more and more people in need, and we will strive to make this the best year yet for both fundraising and strengthening our partnerships here at WHS.

Exercise and health in lockdown

Mr George Cook, Head of Hockey at WHS, looks at how you can get fitter than you have ever been during lockdown.

In these unprecedented times it is all too easy to fall into the trap of spending time thinking about all of the things this lockdown has taken away from us.

For example:

Seeing friends
Going to work
Sunbathing over the bank holiday weekend
Going out for coffee/food
Going shopping and socialising with friends

Another way to view this unprecedented situation is that we now have more time on our hands than ever before. Time to do all of those tasks and pursue all those goals you have been putting off because you’re ‘too busy’ normally.

The national shortage of flour is an indication of how a large proportion of our society intend to pass the time baking all sorts of high sugar not so healthy snacks and cakes. But what if you could come out of lockdown healthier and fitter than you went into it? And is this even possible?

The lockdown has given the gift of time to the nation. It may sound unreasonable to suggest that increased health and fitness are attainable targets when we are largely confined to our houses. But bear with me, there is light at the end of this tunnel…!


Do more than you eat:

We have been told that we can leave for essential food shopping and for exercising. But what if you can’t run or it simply isn’t the mode of exercise for you. No problem, one small change to the way you walk can revolutionise the way you use that magical outdoor hour.

According to the CDC, walking at 1-2mph is considered slow and equates to approximately 50 steps per minute. Fast or brisk walking is between 3-4mph and averages at 100 steps per minute. Within the same timeframe you can double your step count, lift your heart rate and work in your aerobic zone of ~60% maximum effort. This alone can take you above and beyond your NHS target of 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Benefits of sleeping more:

Most of us are guilty of wishing we could just stay in bed that extra 5 or 10 minutes when our alarm goes off in the morning. The reality of work and life schedules mean that more often than not we trade our hours of sleep in order to send that last email, complete that piece of work or to watch another episode of your Netflix series because ‘you’ve earned it’.

The cumulative effect of this on your metabolism can be hugely detrimental to your overall health. It was identified by the sleep foundation that those individuals who slept fewer than 6 hours a night were more likely to store fat and develop symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

This is therefore the perfect opportunity to rewind the effects of stress and lack of sleep that have been building up, perhaps you have become so used to it you didn’t even realise it was a problem anymore.

The lockdown has provided opportunity to hit the reset button on your metabolism and metabolic rate through self-care. And yes, all you have to do is sleep more. The caveat to this is that the same symptoms reappeared in individuals who slept for more than 10 hours a night, regularly.

Sleep: the key to a healthy lifestyle?

Opportunities to cook and what to make:

In a world where socialising with friends often includes going out for dinner, coffee and brunch it has become all too easy to develop unhealthy and undesirable eating habits without realising it. Examples could include having a high caffeine intake, consuming lots of high sugar content snacks/sweets/desserts and not drinking sufficient amounts of water.

I’m sure many in society wondered what they might watch on TV now that all live sport has been cancelled for the foreseeable future; cue TV celebrity chefs to save the day. Each day you can find fresh inspiration for new and healthy ideas to sustain your body through lockdown. There are no more late nights away at the office (for most of us), there is more time to prepare a healthy meal to have as opposed to the quick fix oven pizza that normally comes out when tiredness dictates the menu.

Watch below for inspiration:

Healthy nutrition is central to achieving wellbeing.

Maximise your workout and increase your metabolism:

He has rapidly become a household name; from becoming an author, tv star and most recently a PE teacher, Joe Wicks has become famous using one of the most simple and effective training methods available to us.

High intensity interval training: HIIT. This is exercise that involved short periods of high intensity bursts of work followed by short periods of rest.

But what does it actually do for us? Working at your maximum level for a period of 30-60s followed by a short rest period will raise your heart rate and cause you to become tired and out of breath very quickly.

By segmenting these periods of high work rate, we are able to spend more time at these elevated work levels and burn more calories and get fitter.

What to include? HIIT workouts tend to be bodyweight, perfect when your gym is now the living room. Made up of fundamental movements including, squats, lunges and jumps as well as isometric holds, it is possible to take yourself through a full body high intensity workout in less than 30 minutes.

There are many lasting benefits to this, going substantially beyond the 30 minutes you devote to it. Inactivity can lead to muscle wastage and associated injuries and conditions; this will prevent this as you become stronger than you ever imagined completing these regularly.

They also have the lasting benefit of raising your metabolism, in other words, you keep improving even after your workout has come to an end!


Lockdown has provided opportunity to reset and obtain healthy sleeping patterns, spend more time cooking healthy meals to support a balanced diet and more opportunity to exercise in different ways that can have life changing benefits far beyond our return to normality. Let’s see the positive in the current situation and prioritise our health during lockdown.


Sleep foundation:

Gender Discrimination in Sports

Martha, Year 8, discusses gender discrimination in sports and outlines recent developments that have helped to move the industry towards greater equality.

What is the issue?

Gender discrimination in sports has long been a controversial topic due to inequality regarding wage, audience viewing numbers, and the overall range of opportunities that exists between men and women in the arena of competitive sports. Gender discrimination is still an issue in the 21st century; more people still will watch men’s football than women’s, and women’s football is rarely discussed in the media.

Above: Sport vector created by macrovector 

Why do people consider women’s sports as less deserving than men’s?

Many people think that if there was to be more media coverage or sponsorship of women’s sport it would be more popular with audiences. The media says that if women’s sport generated more interest in the first place then they would invest more time and money into it.

Most people agree on what it takes to make a sport successful: commercial appeal, interest from the general public, and media coverage. The fact is that sponsors are less likely to promote teams or individuals who don’t have lots of media exposure, and not many women in sports do. The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation found that in 2013, women’s sports received only 7% of coverage and a shocking 0.4% of commercial sponsorships[1].

This is a vicious circle, as viewers want to watch sports at the highest professional standard, and sponsors want to be associated with the best athletes. Because of the lack of sponsorship many female athletes, even those who represent their countries, have to fit training around employment. Many male athletes, however, would have their sport as their profession and as such would not need to divide their training regime with other work. Women who are paid usually earn less than their male colleagues; the Professional Golfers’ Association, for example, offers 256 million dollars in prize money; the women’s association offers only 50 million[2]. This inequality also happens in pay for coaches of women’s teams compared to male teams.

What is happening now?

Things are changing, and there is energy behind equality for the industry. The English women’s cricket team became professional in 2014, signing a two-year sponsorship deal with Kia after winning many Ashes contests. The Wimbledon Championships started awarding women the same amount of prize money as men in 2007[3]. Most importantly, the opinions of sports fans seem to be changing: 61% of fans surveyed by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation said they believed top sportswomen were just as skilful as their male equivalents and over half said women’s sport was just as exciting to watch[4].

The road to equality is not an easy one, and there are many different aspects to achieving this; pay, opportunity and recognition. Lots have been done in more recent years to address aspects like equal pay, but there is still more to do to gain full equality. When the Women’s World Cup has as much excitement, sponsorship and audience engagement as the Men’s World Cup, then we are nearer to having achieved equality in sport.







Steph Houghton

Steph Houghton is best known for being captain and the centre back for the England women’s football team. In the first ever debut for England she helped the team to win 6-0 against Russia!

She has shown grit through her career as she suffered injuries before the World Cup in 2007 and then again later before the Euro 2009 but she persevered and went to the World cup in 2011. Houghton has also gone to the Olympics representing GB!

Steph Houghton has shown her ability from a young age when she went to a camp with England for the U16s. Her current club is Manchester City but she has also played for Sunderland, Leeds and Arsenal.

In 2015 she earnt £65k were as the best paid woman footballer got £1.9m. Even more shockingly Cristiano Ronaldo received £288,000 a week! These are just a few figures but already show just how big the divide in woman’s football is not only compared to men but other countries!

In 2016 she was appointed a MBE for the services she has provided for football. She has said that part of her motivation every day is to be an inspiration to young girls and I think it is very clear that she is definitely achieving this!


Rowing Rep

Sport Notices 25.02.19

Good morning everyone, I hope you all had a lovely half term and aren’t feeling too disheartened after the England rugby result.

The U13 & U12 netball teams are both through to the County Finals. Well done and good luck at the finals!

There have been some fantastic rowing results from the last two weeks…

  • Last Saturday at Molesey Junior Head…
    • J17 double won gold
    • J14 octuple won gold
    • J14 quad won gold
    • (Special mention to Jess Bryden, Izzy Staples, Havaani Blase and Emily Richardson who doubled up and raced and won both events)
    • J16 quad finished 3rd
  • Also last Saturday at Henley Head
    • J15 4 came 2nd
    • J158 came 3rd

The J15 rowers managed a friendly Vs Putney High and despite PHS having 2 of their coaching team on board their 8, they couldn’t get near WHS J15 Squad!

Finally, Saskia Brewster attended Great Britain Trials this weekend and finished 13th fastest in the double.  This was a great result at round 2 out of a possible 4 sets of trials.

Welcome back!

After a short break over half term and some busy weeks of A-levels the Sports Blog is up and running! There have been some fantastic results over the last few weeks so please check out the sport notice section for more information.

I hope you all had a lovely half term and for those who went skiing, I hope the weather was lovely and the skiing conditions good. I went to Samoëns with my family and on most days travelled across to Flaine and skied down the run which we raced at the British School Girls. I don’t know if it was the glorious weather or the perfect snow condition but it is a lovely run although, it might not seem that way when you are racing down! In the last weekend in January for a second year running Wimbledon High took a team to race in the British School Girls Races. They all skied with skill and determination and our youngest member came away with a bronze in the U14 unregistered. A huge success considering it was our second time competing and it marks a positive light for the future of Wimbledon High Ski racing!

As always, the spring term brings exciting netball fixtures and even more success in the rowing team. The rowers are currently competing in the National Schools Competition and we wish them the best of luck!


Sports Captain

Sport Notices

Good morning everyone, I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

I’m sure many of you will be feeling happy after England’s successful start in the six nations and apologises for any Irish or French supporters.

Wimbledon’s rowing squad performed exceptionally well at the South England rowing relay champions. We won a gold in the U14s and silver in the U12s individuals. The year 7 and 8 are South of England rowing Champions and Helena, our in-house world recorder holder won gold. These are some fantastic results girls and you should be really proud of your work over the weekend!

The U11 gym team came 4th in the London Regional Floor and Vault competition and the U11 C&D team are GDST netball champions!

Finally, Ellie Watt, in Yr11, was at the National Water Polo camp over the weekend and has now been selected as one of the top 25 girls in England at Under 17s. She will have the possibility to be selected for the European Championships in 2020 so well done Ellie.rI hope you all have a lovely week and a restful half term!

The Gymnastics Rep

Hello all! I love doing gymnastics and have been doing it since I was 11. Although I started relatively late for the sport, I love being able to flip upside down and push myself to try exciting new skills which are sometimes completely out of my comfort zone!

I would like to encourage people to try new and sometimes scary things, as well as finding fun in the sport whatever level you’re at; whether that’s dancing crazily in your room or trying to master a flick!

Millie H,

Gym Rep