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Olympic gymnast helps students achieve success

Craig Heap 2016 (2)Students have been learning how to be champions by ignoring “the chimp” in their decision-making.

Former Olympic gymnast Craig Heap returned to Bede Academy, in Blyth, to share his six keys for success with a new group of Year 10 boys.

He told them:

“Bad decisions come from the chimp. I know young people who can make good decisions. We might not always enjoy where we are in life especially when things get tough – I didn’t enjoy those days when I was swinging around with blisters on my hands, but I really enjoyed the end product.

“You’ve got the ability to change your life right now by making some decent decisions.”

Craig, who brought home team gold medals from the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002 and will be part of the BBC commentary team at the Rio Olympics later this year, now speaks to young people as a mentor and motivator with the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme.

“It’s about motivating people to achieve their dreams. Not everyone is interested in representing their country in sport, they might want to set up a business or travel or be the first person in their family to go to university.”

Having started gymnastics aged nine with his sister, he fought a judgement that he was not strong or flexible enough to make the national squad and go on to represent Team GB at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

“What interests me now is what is success and how can we be successful in our lives,” he said.

“I’m constantly trying to develop myself and I’m becoming a better person through that. You might not achieve a gold medal or an A*, but if you strive to be the best you can be then you will be successful.”

Later Craig, who is a board member of Tyne & Wear Sport, was questioned by A level PE students about funding for sport, the high points of his career and how more young people can be encouraged to get active.

Director of sport at Bede Academy Simon McAree said:

“Craig is a dynamo whose energy and enthusiasm always fires up our students. His story and his determination to be successful is inspirational and shows our students what it’s possible to achieve if you work hard enough.”

Making knowledge stick – NE academy teams up with Cambridge Uni in research

Bede Academy principal Gwyneth EvansTeachers at a Northumberland academy are teaming up with one of the country’s top universities to launch a research project into the ‘holy grail’ of children’s learning – making knowledge stick.

As part of their professional development, experienced teachers at Bede Academy, in Blyth, will be analysing knowledge retention among students.

They will also work on developing strategies to help young people store the information they receive and the skills they learn so they can draw on them in later life.

Dr David Frost, senior lecturer in educational leadership and school improvement at Cambridge University, is visiting the academy this month to help prepare the teachers for their research.

Principal Gwyneth Evans said:

“As teachers we are concerned that young people take the knowledge they develop at school, use it to get through their exams and then simply forget it.

“At Bede, we want to invest in the future of our students. We want the knowledge they develop at the Academy to stick and have real, long term benefits for them.

“We have outstanding practitioners at Bede Academy who have chosen this issue for a research project, which we hope will inform the profession and provide useful evidence for further investigation.”

A number of teachers from Bede Academy have been chosen to speak at a national conference at Cambridge University and are taking part in an education conference in Holland later this year.

Miss Evans added:

“The project is also an example of how we invest in our staff, giving them the opportunity to take ownership of their own professional development and supporting them in their career progression.”