This week, students at Rivers Academy West London have been participating in a ‘Virtual Olympics’ – with a twist.

Designed to replace the academy’s annual Sports Day, which was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, challenges included not just physical activities, but mental ones too from a variety of departments at the school.

Activities ranged from classic Sports Day events like a one-mile run to an egg and spoon race. Languages was also included, an art department challenge to redesign a faculty crest and a Z-to-A challenge from English.

Rebekah Sydenham, the PE teacher who organised the virtual event, said: “I didn’t want them to miss out on that sense of community and belonging this year, just because most of us aren’t in school.

“At Rivers, Sports Day is one of the students’ favourite days of the year, we have our chants, our colours, all staff and students really love to get involved. The students are really great at encouraging each other.

“I had a think about what we could organise to fill the gap, and thought a Virtual Olympics would be a great alternative!” she added.

The PE department had already been uploading regular fitness and physical challenges to Google Classroom, to keep pupils active throughout the lockdown period, which has received impressive engagement from students of all year groups.

Although the ‘Virtual Olympics’ idea was inspired by these weekly challenges, Rebekah wanted to make it a unique event, so elected to make it cross-curricular, with subjects from other faculties offering challenges of their own for students to complete.

Rebekah said: “It is towards the end of the year, and I wanted everybody to feel included, whether they are in PE, English, Science, D.T., it doesn’t matter.

“It is for the students but I also wanted to give staff a fun challenge. It has been a strange academic year, so it is really important that we are able to come together and remember why we are here” she added.

As part of the Aspirations Academies Trust’s ‘No Limits’ curriculum, pupils at Rivers Academy have experience learning in a transdisciplinary format, so the cross-curricular nature of the ‘Virtual Olympics’ also serves as a celebration of that learning style.

The aim of the week-long event was to build a sense of excitement among staff, and boost the morale of the academy community before the end of the academic year.

Students of all ages have been completing the challenges and recording scores/times over the last week, and the results will be tallied up to announce a winning faculty, who will be the ‘Virtual Olympics’ champions.

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