How to organise the perfect school sports day
It’s that time of year again when the end of the summer term draws near, and it’s time to think about saying goodbye to another great school year. Before you do, however, there are all the end-of-term activities to get through. One of the more enjoyable tasks that primary school teachers face is organising the summer sports day.
Sports day in a primary school is markedly different to sports days in secondary school. It’s as much about joining in and having fun as it is about competitiveness and winning! The activities, races and games are likely to include simplified, fun versions of track and field events - though still, of course, involving physical exertion and skill!
Done right, a sports day is the perfect way to wrap up the school year, and send both children and parents off on a positive note - so it’s important to try and get it right.
While the thought of organising a school sports day may feel like just another chore on your seemingly endless list of things to do, now is the perfect time to get planning. Don't forget National Schools Sports week happens in June so make sure you have a look at the Youth Sports Trust if you need any extra ideas.
So what does the perfect school sports day look like?
Here are some things to consider:
Primary school sports day organisation
Staying organised and preparing everything in good time is the best thing you can do to help stay calm and in control when it comes to preparing for your school sports day.
Set a time and a date, and make sure both pupils and parents are aware
Get a date in the diary well in advance and make sure that parents are aware of it so they can make arrangements to attend. Use our free sports day poster templates to help advertise the day.
Start to plan what games you will include and a timetable for the event
Timing is everything when it comes to ensuring the day runs smoothly - think about how long you want the day to last, which events you’ll have and how long each will take. Don’t forget to factor in breaks. Decide whether you’ll present winners with prizes at the end of each race or have a prize-giving ceremony at the end of the day.
Which staff will be involved?
Sports days require a lot of personpower, whether it’s directing people to the car park, handing out refreshments, being the designated first-aider, overseeing races, blowing whistles or awarding prizes, you’ll need to make sure everyone knows who’s doing what and when!
Think about refreshments
It’s a good idea to make sure you have planned for refreshments. Hopefully, it will be a dry warm day and you’ll all need some cooling down. You could ask parents to bring picnics themselves to help keep costs down, but make sure you provide access to drinking water (and shaded areas) as a minimum.
Think about what equipment you’ll need
You can’t win a sack race without the sacks, nor can you have a prize-giving ceremony without any prizes! Once you’ve made your plan make sure you have all the equipment and materials you need to put your ideas into practice.
Make sure everyone feels included
Sports day can be daunting for some pupils, particularly those who are not as sporty or confident as others. Make sure you include something for everyone, not just the traditional, often highly competitive races. Coming up with a programme of games and activities that challenge different skills will help all children feel included. Team games and races are another great way of encouraging children to come together and work constructively to try to win. Try to instil an attitude of fair play and team spirit, where participating and trying your best is recognised and rewarded. Discouraging overly competitive behaviour goes hand in hand with this ethos. You could award prizes for sporting conduct as well as winning events.
Make sure you are clear on the rules of each activity and that everyone understands how to take part. Let children ask questions before you begin so no one gets confused or feels as though they have been treated unfairly. If you’re really organised, get the rules out to teachers beforehand so they can practise the events with their class during P.E. lessons.
Remember, primary school sports day is about making children feel included, and feel a sense of pride and achievement. With that in mind, you should be able to plan and run a sports day that is enjoyable for children, parents and staff alike!
Good sports to play at a primary school sports day
- Slow riding bikes - a great game that’s all about balance and not losing your nerve - great for the less sporty kids!
- Egg and spoon - a classic race that can be done in teams of individually.
- Sack race - the sack race is lots of fun and can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
- Three-legged race - the three-legged race will get lots of laughs and is a great way for children to work as a team.
- Standing long jump.
- Discus or Javelin - both very inclusive and a lot of fun!
- Beanbag shotput - an accessible, easy to set up and manage activity
- Relay race - a straightforward relay race is a good team event.
- Obstacle course - setting up an obstacle course is lots of fun.
- Hula hoop race - the hula hoop race requires participants to hula their way around the course - another one that’s better for children who aren’t as fast as others.
- Bucket game - line children up one behind the other in two or three (or however many) teams - a full bucket is placed at the feet of the person at the front of the line and they are given a cup. An empty bucket is placed at the back of the line. Children must fill up the cup and pass it back through the line over their heads and fill up the empty bucket at the back - the first team to fill their bucket wins!
- Tug of war - another classic game that’s great for teams!
And of course, not forgetting…
- The parents and carers' three-legged race!
Once your sports day is over
Once all of the races are over, it’s a great idea to gather everyone together and have a short speech about what a great day you have all had, and to thank all the staff for their hard work. If you haven’t already, you could give out cups, medals, rosettes and prizes at the end of the day, too.
You can also use sports day to inspire some fun activities once everyone is back in the classroom, too. They could use the sports statistics for maths activities, write reports and stories about the day in English, and draw pictures or make cards to take home to their parents to remind them of what a fantastic day they had!
Organising the perfect sports day takes a little thought and preparation, but putting in the care and effort really does make all the difference and is the perfect way to celebrate the end of term!