At Repton School, athletics and academics go hand in hand when it comes to student focus and access. Proper physical fitness is just as paramount to student wellbeing as textbook learning. With this in mind, Repton School helps students manage the demands of both with a specially designed curricula and scheduling so that they are not forced to choose between one or the other.
But staff are not just there to provide opportunity and instruction. Repton School faculty and leaders have student safety at top of mind when it comes to every athletic endeavour. Using best practises in training, upgrading sporting facilities, and providing structure for students to achieve healthy balance, Repton School student athletes have excelled.
However, no student athlete is at zero risk for a sports injury. It remains important to be vigilant and use every means to provide proper care and habits both on and off the field. To this end, Repton School has been selected by Podium Analytics to participate in a data-driven study to assess sports-related injuries in school-aged children and ultimately create safer sporting for all.
The Rising Need for Data and Diligence in Youth Sports
Injury has always been a part of sports. The physically of athletics can take its toll on even the most in-shape players in any game. Whether a novice taking to the pitch for the first time, a professional who overlooked a morning warm up, or a school student just looking for a bit of fun off-curriculum, injuries happen.
In recent years, there has been a notable rise in the number of injuries experienced and reported in school-aged children. Research reported in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine revealed that 47.4% of emergency department visits for sports injuries (among two Oxfordshire NHS hospitals studied) were among patients aged 0-19. These included fractures as well as concussion and ligament damage. Among the top contributors to injuries were rugby, strength building, and football.
Similarly, the US-based National Athletic Trainers’ Association shared that 90% of student athletes experience injuries, with 54% playing through pain. It is imperative to shift these figures in a downward trend to protect the safety and health of children while helping them remain active.
Data on past injuries can be quite revealing. Organisers, coaches, and school personnel need to step up safety protocols, screening, and training regimens to better protect players. Doing this on a student-by-student basis is not a scalable solution. Using data to drive future decisions and improve diligence is much more feasible with proper programmes in place. And for that, society needs a more comprehensive evaluation of the magnitude and assortment of injuries along with detailed profiling of incidence, severity, frequency, and rehabilitation.
Safety in Sport: Podium Analytics and Repton School Collaboration
In response to this need, Podium Analytics recently teamed up with the University of Oxford to create a programme specifically designed for data collection and decision making for improved student athlete outcomes. Podium is an NGO with a strong history of working to address sports-related injuries, and the recently refocused effort will target results for 11 to 18-year-olds. These are formative years where health and habits need safe conditions to thrive. Improvements in athletic safety, as Podium Analytics Founder and Chairman Ron Dennis CBE explained, have been “due to the successful development of technology to capture real-time data to drive research and technology innovation.”
Data analysis is only as good as the data collected. Podium has embarked on a large endeavour to collect student injury information to gain a better understanding of risk factors. From there, the team aims to double down on evidence-based strategies that can be widely applied at schools across the country to monitor and, ultimately, prevent injury in the first place.
To do this, Podium is calling on experts in clinical neuroscience, population health, and big data to design a first-of-its kind programme. The team also needs a network of schools and student athletes for the 10-year study. Repton School, ever at the forefront of technology and student wellbeing, was one of the initial cohort of institutions chosen to partner on the project.
On being named to the study, Headmaster Mark Semmence shared Repton School’s positive outlook and plans to incorporate Podium’s findings to further student wellness: “Our imperative to safeguard the wellbeing of our pupils extends to their emotional as well as their physical prosperity, which is why Podium Analytics will play such a valuable role in Repton’s sports programme going forward.”
Repton School has a storied history of elite sports, with over a century of Olympic representation as well as countless local, national, and global championships in a wide array of sports programming. Many Repton School alumni have gone on to play in professional sport, and the faculty coaching teams include several current and former professional players.
Access to Athletics at Repton School
The effects of the study may well be felt across the entire student population at Repton School in the future. Access to athletic activities is not limited to team sports at the School. Rather, students are encouraged to develop a love of sport no matter their level of skill. In addition to organised team match play, options are provided for casual activities. As such, over 80% of pupils participate in at least one sport.
Repton School has already made strides in student athletic safety with upgraded, modern facilities in its Sports Centre. Along with access to state-of-the-art pitches, fields, courts, and pools, students can take advantage of a strength and conditioning suite. Here, trainers and practitioners can help relieve pain and rehabilitate injuries. Students are also encouraged to prepare for events with proper conditioning to prevent injury in the first place.
This approach is in alignment with the goals of the Podium Analytics study. By intentionally monitoring and collecting data points for student sports injuries, they aspire to identify trends and practises that can influence the overall approach to student sport. Rather than dissuade participation, which can have adverse effects on mental and emotional health, participation can be geared toward safer, preventative practises.
The Podium study stands to be the largest longitudinal research initiative in youth sports, and Repton School intends to contribute to the fullest to help create data-driven changes in physical education. Participating schools will report on injury data in a centralised platform that will then be anonymised and passed to teams at Oxford for AI processing and data modelling. In the end, Repton School and its peers anticipate making proactive changes to alter the youth sport injury landscape moving forward.
About Repton School
Repton School is a co-educational independent school for boarding and day pupils aged between 13-18. Student athletics is just one of many hallmark programmes designed to inspire wellness and development for students. Over 80% of Repton School students participate in recreational or competitive sport, which helps cultivate physical health as well as skills in teamwork, leadership, and resilience. Learn more about Repton School’s Sports programmes: Sport for All