Tom Davies is taking on a big challenge

Tom Davies sets off for a single  for Carew In this week’s Sport Pembrokeshire profile we meet Tom Davies, Primary PE Tutor and a Primary Active Young People Officer
Could you tell us about your interest in sport?
I’ve been playing cricket and football since I was about 6 or 7 years old. Saturdays were spent watching my dad, Aled, play both sports for Carew. I was always going to follow in his footsteps by playing for Carew in both sports; and I even play the same roles as him. I play in goal for the first team in football and have been an all-rounder for the first team in cricket, until last season when I signed for Carmarthen Wanderers in the South Wales Premier Cricket League (SWPCL). Obviously, the pandemic has disrupted things, but playing at a higher level is a challenge that I am enjoying. My cricketing highlight would be winning the Harrison Allen Bowl in my first season with the first team, whilst my footballing highlight would be reaching the West Wales Cup Final in 2019, which was held at the Liberty Stadium.

How did you get into the role at Sport Pembrokeshire?
With a bit of luck really! I’ve been a primary school teacher for the last four years;  a role that has been very rewarding and one that I enjoyed. Teaching in three different schools (Fenton CP, Tenby CiW VC and St Oswalds VA) has provided me with a range of different experiences, which have helped to shape my practice moving forward and allowed me to undertake my current roles with confidence. At the end of the last academic year, which was particularly challenging when lockdown materialised because schools closed and teaching and learning moved online, the pandemic had an impact on the number of teaching posts that were advertised, leaving me without a post in September. This allowed me to reflect on what I wanted to do and it was during this time that I found the break from teaching had done me some good!

I had a brief chat with Jo Williams, whom I’d known for years through various PE and school sport competitions and training courses, which basically led to me starting to teach PE for one morning a week. This has since progressed to me working as a Primary PE Tutor for one half days of the week and a Primary Active Young People Officer for the other half of the week – two roles that I am enjoying immensely!

What does the role entail for you personally?
Progress that you feel you have made and what you have learnt, etc. The PPE Tutor role means I am simply teaching PE lessons to lots of different classes during their teacher’s PPA time. Working with pupils across Key Stage 2 has helped me to better understand the needs of children of different ages and to adapt activities appropriately, too.

The AYP Officer role is slightly different. I’m still teaching PE lessons to classes, but the class teacher and any support staff are present in the lessons. This is so that I can support them with teaching different activities in PE, so that their knowledge and confidence increase; the idea is that they can confidently deliver high-quality PE lessons when my time in the school has come to an end.

The role also requires me to work with small groups of individuals, as identified by the school. The pupils may need a bit of support with their confidence and self-esteem; have behavioural, social and emotional needs; or be somebody who doesn’t enjoy PE or sport. The smaller group will help them to work at their own pace and level more confidently, learning skills that they can then transfer to larger-group situations; whether that is in the classroom, in PE lessons or extra-curricular / community clubs.

Both of these roles have already taught me a lot. I’ve been able to implement strategies I have used with my own classes in the past, but I have also had to learn quickly about the children I am working with now in order to work in a way that suits their individual needs. It’s simply not a case of ‘one size fits all’.

Why it is so important to keep investing in school and community sport for youngsters?
It would be massively important anyway, but even more so now considering what we’ve all been through during the last year or so. Whilst technology has allowed children to continue to learn from home, they have become so accustomed to being in front of a screen that, in my opinion, it will eventually have a detrimental effect on their well-being. School and community sport can teach pupils a range of skills that they can transfer into their everyday lives, such as working well with others, taking responsibility for something themselves, respect and discipline. This is without mentioning the physical and mental benefits of taking part in physical activity!
Within schools, the implementation of the new curriculum is just around the corner, with traditional subjects now forming six areas of learning. It has been stated that each area of learning will have ‘equal weighting’, with no area more important than another. It is imperative that schools ensure this is the case, as it will result in the Health and Well-Being area of learning playing a prominent role in a child’s education.
How the pandemic has made the team adapt?
Meetings and training courses have all been held online. Part of my PPE role involved me sending links to one of my schools, which took them to different activities that their pupils could take part in each week.

What are your hopes for school sport in Pembrokeshire moving forward?
One thing that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore, even before the pandemic hit, is inter-school matches. When I was a child, a Friday afternoon used to mean football and netball matches against other schools. These experiences gave me memories that I still look back on fondly. The pressures of the education system often mean that children spending time out of the classroom is frowned upon. I’d like to see this changed into a more positive outlook, with more understanding of the variety of benefits sport can provide. Post-Covid, it will be great when all of the different tournaments/festivals take place again; aspects of school life that gave me so many positive opportunities.
Can you tell us an interesting sporting fact about yourself?
In 2019, my last season for Carew CC, I was awarded the George Cole Cup for the best player in the county. I’d managed to score a few runs and take a few wickets and was very proud to be chosen for such an award.

Tom Davies bowls for Carew