Steve Wright quizzes leading Directors of Sport about the jobs pleasures and challenges; here in conversation with Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is Director of Sport, King Edward’s School, Birmingham
âž¡What’s a typical day for you, Chris?
My daily routine is a blend of my own timetable commitments – I teach a full PE timetable and lead Games sessions on Monday to Thursday afternoons – and my Friday CCF commitment. I also have to co-ordinate staff and take school sports teams, as well as keeping on top of the admin side of the job. I am in charge of the U16A XV, U13B XI (hockey) and our badminton and squash teams.
âž¡ How would you describe the role of an effective modern Director of Sport?
My role is about promoting the importance of sport to boys and parents, both current and prospective, and to staff. We are an academic school, but our extra-curricular provision is exceptional and sport must compete alongside Music, Drama, Living History, CCF, Leadership and a raft of other extra-curricular clubs and societies.
âž¡ How has the role changed over the past few years?
It is getting harder to find academic staff to fill in and help out with the extra-curricular sporting commitments. Giving up evenings and weekends when they have such pressure on their time is becoming a bigger issue and as our older staff retire it becomes harder to replace them. The ‘old school’ teacher who taught French or Geography and also took the 2nd XV and athletics is a dying breed.
âž¡ What sports do you offer at KES?
We have an ethnically diverse school population and so have had to consider the range of sports we offer – currently some 18 sports across the academic year. Hockey has blossomed for us thanks largely to the efforts of our coach Michael Johnson,who has taken KES hockey to a whole new level in recent years.
Rugby remains the major sport in the first term, although we find it increasingly difficult to compete on our current fixture list. Recent adverse publicity regarding injuries has also made it harder to persuade parents of the benefits and beauty of the game. We are increasing our indoor sport provision and have lunchtime clubs for both basketball and volleyball. Badminton and squash are also relatively popular.
KES on tour
âž¡ What are the job’s rewards?
I see my job as trying to open pupils’ eyes to the opportunities and benefits of a life of sport. The rewards are twofold. There is always the sense of achievement derived from individuals and teams winning matches, competitions and even national recognition. However, there is also the equally powerful sense of achievement when the U12D rugby team knock on the Common Room door asking for a lunchtime practice.
In short, the reward is witnessing the start of a lifelong love of sport. It doesn’t need to be a life of first-class sport, simply one that helps people to grow as rounded, productive and healthy individuals.
âž¡ And the job’s challenges?
Trying to convince other members of the Common Room, parents and boys of the above points! A great swathe of our parents only want the academic success that will lead their sons to university and a set, pre-ordained career and push their boys down this unidirectional path.
âž¡ What are your own sporting ambitions and projects at KES?
We are hopeful that the new Sports Hall project will finally get off the ground. The need to broaden our indoor provision grows each year, and the new building is an exciting prospect. Furthermore, we are looking to develop our Athletics facility, in conjunction with Birmingham University.