Enjoyment and interaction are key in school sports

INCREASING sport participation among students and providing support for elite athletes to flourish are two aspirations of Dame Allan’s Schools new Director of Sport Alun Barlow.

Having joined in September for the start of the 2021/22 academic year, Alun intends to foster an enjoyment of sport throughout the Schools and “embrace this return of normality” now Covid-19 restrictions are lifting.

He says: “A return to school sport is a welcome sight. Enjoyment and interaction are key, and I will focus on providing as many sports opportunities as possible.

“The pandemic lockdown highlighted how paramount sport and activity is for physical, mental and social health, and we must embrace this return to normality and the opportunity to once again have fun on the sports field, express ourselves and make new friends.”

Alun comes from Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, where he most recently held the position of Head of PE. He also spent four years as Director of Sport at Hoe Bridge Prep School, in Surrey.

A sports enthusiast from an early age, Alun attended Rugby School and played both cricket and rugby to a high level. He toured Barbados with the 1st XI cricket team and played in the Rosslyn Park 7s rugby tournament.

He attained his sports degree at Northumbria University and has played rugby for 15 years in the North-East, representing Tynedale and Percy Park RFC. He also enjoys running and cycling, and has completed three marathons including Paris and Rotterdam, as well as the Ride London 100 mile cycling event. 

Alun’s wife Erin Barlow has also been appointed as the Junior School’s teacher of PE and games. Her role allows Dame Allan’s to offer a wider range of sport and extra-curricular activities.

She says: “I am looking forward to supporting and developing the early years and key stage 1 provision in sport, building a strong sporting foundation for the children to carry through into KS2 and beyond.”

A hockey and netball enthusiast, Erin has experience of teaching in KS1, KS2 and secondary, and was housemistress at an all-girls boarding school in Surrey.

Talking of British tennis star Emma Radacanu’s recent win at the US Open, Alun says her hard work should serve as inspiration for young sportspeople to follow their dreams.

“Arriving as a tournament wildcard, and only having completed her A-level 3 months previously, she demonstrated such resilience, humility and determination over the course of the tournament,” he says.

“The sport department at Dame Allan's actively encourages these character traits and identifies, praises and promotes these values in students through education and activity in PE lessons and schools fixtures.”