Paxton Academy pitches in at Thornton Heath rugby club

If mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body – was good enough a philosophy for those fortunate to have access to the playing fields of Eton, then it should also good enough for the children of Croydon.

Work to prepare the temporary classrooms at Streatham and Croydon RFC for Paxton Academy continued right up to the start of term

Work to prepare the temporary classrooms at Streatham and Croydon RFC for Paxton Academy continued right up to the start of term

That appears to be at least part of the thinking behind a primary free school which is being established, initially at least, in a selection of Portakabins on some spare land around the pitches at Streatham and Croydon rugby club’s Frant Road ground in Thornton Heath.

Paxton Academy is one of the schools being opened to cope with the shortage of school places throughout the borough. And SCRFC is taking the opportunity not only to make the club more up to date for its own players, but also to build a community sports and health facility in the heart of Thornton Heath, where green spaces are in short supply.

The initiative includes partnering with the Paxton Academy, which puts student fitness at its heart in order to ensure that all children are able to access the curriculum, and in particular prepare themselves for work in science and technology-based areas. The school has opened this month with 62 four-year-olds in its reception year, using temporary buildings until the school is built round the corner on London Road.

The school and the club expect to go on working together for the foreseeable future, with the school having long-term use of SCRFC grounds during weekdays.

Johnette Barrett, the Paxton Academy head, said, “Streatham and Croydon have gone beyond the call of duty to accommodate our parent meetings at various times of the day and evening, and fun events for our prospective children, and they have accepted deliveries on the Academy’s behalf often at untimely hours of the morning. Nothing has been too much of a problem.

“We are eternally grateful for the immense support they continue to give us,” Barrett said.

“The club are absolute stars they have found space between the back of their clubhouse and the pitches to stack our temporary buildings,” Charlotte Davies, the Academy’s chair of governors said. “Jeff Greenleaf, who manages the SCRFC community programme, has been superb.”

The club also works with other schools which have use of their grounds, including Bensham Manor.

SCRFC is involved with the Sport England Croydon Game Changer Programme, in partnership with Croydon Volunteer Action, Crystal Palace FC and Surrey County Cricket Club.

The aim of the project is to build a successful network of young people who will be provided with opportunities to progress into mainstream and competitive sport, while also providing the opportunity for training which will enable the participants to be able to coach others and sustain participation.

On a wider scale the project is looking at how the regeneration of Croydon can be aided by developing a physical activity programme which provides training and mentoring support and encourages young people to take on healthier and more active lifestyles, as well as to participate in sport.

In the near future, the club – previously featured as the training base for one series of Sky Sport’s School of Hard Knocks programme – is seeking to redevelop the club house to make it more attractive to a wider range of visitors and to provide community training spaces.

“These are exciting times for Streatham and Croydon,” Greenleaf said. “We are working towards a clear strategic plan to be a sports club at the very heart of Thornton Heath that makes a significant difference to the health and life opportunities of the local population.”

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2 Responses to Paxton Academy pitches in at Thornton Heath rugby club

  1. Libby Lawson says:

    Well! There’s a lot of positive spin in that report isn’t there? I wish the pupils all the very best of luck at Paxton Academy.

  2. Rod Davies says:

    It’s great to hear of a local sports club can make its space available for community use, and benefit through investment in its own facilities. I do hope the members of the rugby club get particular recognition from the council and the community for being so publicly spirited.

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