New sport education venture looking to roll out nationwide after Dundee pilot success

28/05/2024
Hayley Donnelly (Curriculink). (Photo: Kelly McIntyre)

A FORMER Scottish international badminton player has created a new resource to put sport at the heart of learning and teaching.

Hayley Donnelly, an experienced primary teacher from Dundee, has launched CurricuLink to combine her passions for sport and education.

Having piloted the scheme in three Dundee primary schools, Hayley has already gained the support of Eilidh Doyle, retired track and field athlete, as a partner for the programme. Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray and ex-BBC sports presenter Alison Walker have also praised the new approach. 

Each teaching block and lesson plans concentrate on a single sport, developing a range of transferrable skills. The first sport covered is tennis with plans to include basketball, rugby and golf.

Hayley said, “CurricuLink is an educational programme to support teachers and pupils. It offers ready-made projects with a range of lessons that connect not only to the curriculum but importantly to high-quality PE lessons.

“From the pilot sessions, we’ve seen a number of physical and mental health benefits, not least addressing engagement levels and abilities – in and out of the classroom – as well as girls’ participation in sport. Our aim is to help with new and interesting learning experiences that both teachers and pupils will enjoy.”

CurricuLink content currently includes tools and materials for pupils at three levels from Pre-school to Primary 7. The range of resources has sport at the core but the project-style learning is designed to promote transferrable skills.

Teachers at Ardler Primary School, St Fergus RC Primary School, and St Peter and Paul’s RC Primary School have tested the CurricuLink range of resources in the classroom and the gym with pupils in Primary 2, Primary 5 and Primary 7 classes. 

Olympian Eilidh Doyle is to become an ambassador and partner of CurricuLink, supporting Hayley in launching the programme. Eilidh said, “As a former teacher, to have a resource like this available is invaluable. I would have bitten your hand off for it! 

“Not only does it cover every area throughout the curriculum, it’s also appropriate for all teachers. It allows you to tap in as much or as little as you need so you can use it as a guide or for full lesson structures. The work that has gone into this has been in-depth and meticulous. Sport and physical activity can teach us so much and this resource shows that it doesn’t just all have to take place within a gym hall.”

Judy Murray has provided mentoring and support to former Scottish internationalist Hayley.

Judy said, “I’m a huge believer in the power of sport in terms of its ability to develop life skills as well as the obvious physical benefits. CurricuLink brings sport into the classroom which can only be a good thing.”

Hayley is best known locally as the owner of Racquet Buddies, a business which she set up part-time in 2013 and now has over 200 children attending classes in Dundee and Angus.

Several trials are running in the coming months and Hayley hopes to have the resource in some schools for the beginning of the new school year in August 2024.

Hayley said, “We’ve got kit, the website ready and the packs in production so we are ready and raring to go!” For further information or to sign up, please contact info@curriculink.co.uk or visit www.curriculink.co.uk 

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