Valence School set to establish itself as a centre of excellence for Paralympic sport

Matt Strange, the Director of Sport and Assistant Principal at Valence School in Westerham, invited Sevenoaks Sports to the school to discuss its future as a centre of excellence, most notably for Paralympic sports.

Valence School is unique within the maintained sector in the whole of southern England as they cater for students aged 4 to 19 and have both day and boarding places. The school has a large site with high quality teaching, social care and health care facilities, currently catering for 99 pupils of which 52 are residents.

With a staffing team of over 220 they provide specialist teaching, social care, therapies and nursing care to an exceptionally high standard. Their overall aim is to enable every child and young person to achieve meaningful independence.

Students flourish in a supportive but challenging environment, making good educational progress and achieving a range of accreditation as they get older. There is excellent support to enable students to achieve functional communication, mobility and skills for daily living.

Mr Strange has been at Valence School for three years now and is a member of the Leadership Team, as well as focusing on the delivery of PE and Community sport there. He also oversees the outreach programme they provide for the county.

With 16 acres of land and plans for a swimming pool expanision not to mention their ongoing fitness room project, Valence certainly have the means to accommodate more ‘out of hours’ participation from outside clubs and organisations.

Spectrum Gymnastics are just one of a number of groups who currently use the school facilities after the school day has finished. Valence also host a number of the Team GB Paralympic Archery team on a regular basis.

Mr Strange visualises all the opportunities the school can achieve, whilst not neccessarily being endless, but at the same time not restrictive either. He said: “My vision is to establish a centre of excellence for disability and Paralympic sport here at Valence.”

“With the facilities we already have and the planned developments, there is every opportunity to welcome many more groups, organistions and individuals to use the school. We want to connect with the local community and make ourselves an all-inclusive venue.”

Dare to Believe

Last November the school connected with insurance company Allianz and students from Knole Academy to hold an inclusive PE day titled ‘Dare to Believe’. The event was an example of the type of outreach work they do as a result of being the Youth Sport Trust ‘Lead Inclusion’ school for Kent.

Strange said of the event: “The ‘Dare to Believe’ festival was a project led by ourselves and Knole Academy students and was funded by Allianz – its purpose was to expose primary school students to a range of inclusive PE activities and we had over 100 in attendance.”

“We also support many special and mainstream schools so that students with Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are able to be provided with opportunities both within the curriculum as well as a chance to play competitive sport.” He continued: “We play a lot of Boccia, a sport similar to bowls and can be played by those with severe physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy”.

Valance School have actually previously been National Champions in Boccia sport and regularly compete in the South of England finals.

Charity Golf Day

The school will be hosting a charity golf day at neighbouring Westerham Golf Club on Wednesday 9th May, 2018 and Mr Strange is keen to get as many people involved as possible.

He said that the golf day would be used to highlight the facilities the school has and it’s plans going forward to be all-inclusive. They are planning to offer a brand new car for the ‘hole-in-one’ competition on the day and are looking for local businesses to sponsor the event along with many golfers taking part too.

For more information you can contact Mr Strange at Valence School via his email at mstrange@valence.kent.sch.uk, alternatively contact Sevenoaks Sports and we will be happy to connect you with them.

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