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Girls' sport: challenging, competitive and passionate


 – Pauline Stott, Director of Sport at Kilgraston School

The past two years have seen women’s sport reach greater levels of coverage and achievement than ever before. After the 2012 London Olympics, where the women’s events brought passion, drama, and a rather impressive haul of medals for Team GB, those of us immersed in the sporting scene felt that the time for women’s sport had well and truly arrived.
I’m always taken aback when I come across the assumption that sport at an all-girls school will be a rather gentle, refined affair – somehow lacking in the excitement, passion or fierce spirit of competition you would expect in a mixed or boys’ environment. My family and I moved to Kilgraston over six years ago from a mixed school, so I could take up a newly created role of Director of Sport – along with my two daughters who joined the school as pupils. And yes, we found the sport in a girls’ school to be different, but perhaps not in the ways we might have expected.
In a mixed school, boys’ physical strength and the greater likelihood that they’ve grown up immersed in sport means that they’re likely to rise more quickly to the upper ranks of school sporting achievement and to dominate many of the traditional school sports. In a self-enforcing cycle, girls who believe they are unlikely to excel at sport are less likely to get involved in the first place – perpetuating the notion that ‘girls aren’t really sporty’. By contrast, in a girls-only environment, the very best sportspeople are – and can only be – female, creating a culture where female role models in sport are very much the norm, rather than the exception. Our girls quickly lose their self-consciousness, and are more likely to take risks, push themselves, and really throw themselves into their sport. 
Sports Leader Awards 
Sports Leader Awards, where girls use their PE lessons to develop skills in coaching, encourage sporting excellence to be passed down through the year groups of the school, and create a culture where girls who excel at sports like hockey and football are utterly commonplace.  
It’s true, of course, that some girls (and some boys) simply aren’t ‘sporty’ in the traditional sense of team and ball sports. However I’m yet to meet anyone – of either gender – who can’t be supported to find some sort of exercise that they enjoy. From the youngest pupils in the Nursery, to our soon-to-be university girls in the Upper Sixth, sport at Kilgraston is compulsory and taught exclusively by specialist sports staff. From the age of 14 upwards, girls choose which sports they participate in, which means they are more likely to really throw themselves into activities, instead of slogging through a session in which they’re simply not interested. 
Inspiring positive habits
There really is nothing like taking part in a sport you love to inspire young people to develop positive habits for the rest of their life. Those habits aren’t just about getting off the sofa and going for a run, but are also about ensuring girls are able to win (and lose) with grace and resilience, helping them to develop a spirit of adventure, an ability to push their boundaries, and a willingness to throw themselves into whatever opportunities come their way. These issues are so much bigger than school PE lessons, which is why it’s so vital that we encourage and inspire our girls to get involved in sport. 
Something like 94% of our girls participate in our annual cross country run – some to compete and excel, others to dress up, paint their faces, and join in with the sense of community and excitement. Each year, as I watch close to 300 girls, aged from 3 to 18, turn out for the run in all weathers, often smiling through the rain and encouraging each other across the finish line, I really couldn’t be prouder. 
And judging by the quality of school sports for girls right now, the future of women’s sport is in safe hands. Whether our girls are focusing on the clashes on the hockey pitch or the exhilaration of tennis, they’re grasping with both hands the opportunity to truly excel in the sporting arena. As our girls stand triumphant on a medals podium, collapse across a finish line, battle for a goal or complete the perfect clear round, the notion that ‘girls aren’t really into competitive sports’ is well and truly quashed.

Pauline Stott became Director of Sport at Kilgraston in 2009. A former Scotland and Great Britain International hockey player, Pauline captained the Great Britain Ladies Hockey team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and also captained the Scottish Ladies team for over seven years over a 12 year career. Pauline retired having gained 203 International caps at Senior level.  

 In addition to her role at Kilgraston, where she leads 16 members of staff in championing sporting participation and excellence at the school, both through the school day and evening, Pauline delivers ‘Champion in Schools’ talks to schoolchildren across Scotland, motivating them to be the best they can be.

Pauline is still coaching girls at Under 14, 16 and 18 Midland hockey teams and coaches through her own company HPC (Scotland) Ltd over holiday camps and Sunday sessions. She is committed to helping future Scotland and Great Britain players. 

Boarding at an independant school
School Address Phone Type PR Weblink
Dean Close SchoolShelburne Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. GL51 6HE01242 258044Bo(7-18), D, M, 13-18 
Wycliffe CollegeStonehouse, Gloucestershire. GL10 2JQ01453 822432Bo, D, M, 2-18 
Rookwood SchoolWeyhill Road, Andover, Hampshire. SP10 3AL01264 325900Bo(8-16), D, M, 3-16 
St Lawrence CollegeCollege Road, Ramsgate, Kent. CT11 7AE01843 572931Bo(3-18), D(3-18), M(3-18), 3-18 
Kingham Hill SchoolKingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. OX7 6TH01608 658999Bo, D, M, 11-18 
Erskine Stewart\'s Melville SchoolsQueensferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland. EH4 3EZ0131 311 1000Bo(10-18), D(3-18), B(3-18), G(3-18), M(3-12), 3-18 
Wellington SchoolWellington, Somerset. TA21 8NT01823 668803Bo, D, M, 11-18 
Holbrook, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP9 2RX01473 326136 Bo, D, M, 11-18
St Davids CollegeLlandudno, Conwy. LL30 1RD01492 875974Bo, D, M, 9-19 
Windermere SchoolWindermere, Cumbria. LA23 1NW01539 446164Bo, D, M, 3-18 
King's College TauntonSouth Road, Taunton, Somerset. TA1 3LA01823 328204Bo, D, M, 13-18 
Queen\'s CollegeTrull Road, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4QS01823 340830Bo(7-18), D, M, 0-18 
Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. ST14 5HN01889 590484Bo, D, M, 11-18
Stonar SchoolCottles Park, Atworth, Wiltshire. SN12 8NT01225 701741Bo(9-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18 
Iwerne Minster, Blandford Forum, Dorset. DT11 8LL01747 812122Bo, D, M, 2½-18
Bucknell, Shropshire SY7 0BG01547 530303Bo(9-18), D(4-18), M(4-18), 4-18
Warminster SchoolChurch Street, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 8PG01985 210100Bo, D, M, 3-18 
Moyles Court SchoolMoyles Court, Ringwood, Hampshire. BH24 3NF01425 472856Bo, D, M, 2-16 
Pangbourne Reading RG8 8LA+44 (0)118 9767 416Bo, D, M, 11-18
Hailey Lane, Hertford, Hertfordshire. SG13 7NU+44 (0) 1992 706353Bo, D, M, 11-18
Green Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 9JP +44(0)1423 566358Bo(8-18), D, M, 3-18
Rossall SchoolBroadway, Fleetwood. FY7 8JW01253 774201Bo(7-18), D, M, 2-18 
Penn Road, Wolverhampton. WV3 0EG01902 341230Bo(11-18), D(4-18), M(4-18), 4-18
Blundell's SchoolBlundell's Road, Tiverton EX16 4DN01884 252543Bo(11-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18 
Shiplake CollegeHenley-on-Thames, RG9 4BW0118 940 2455Bo(11-18), D, B(11-18), G(16-18), 11-18 
Taunton SchoolStaplegrove Road, Taunton, Somerset TA2 6AD01823 703703Bo(7-18), D(0-18), M(0-18), 0-18 
Cheltenham Road, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4PL 01993 823303Bo, D, M, 11-18
High Street, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire WS15 3BW01283 840232Bo 8-18, D, B, 3-18
The Settlement, Ockbrook, Derby, DE72 3RJ01332 673532Bo(11-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18
The Old Palace, Palace Green, Ely, Cambridgeshire. CB7 4EW01353 660707Bo(8-18), 1-18
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