Mrs Motivator

Pictures Martin Bostock'Susan Cooke, who is Lancashire County Council's head of PE, school sport and outdoor education, and has been given a national award by the Association for Physical Education's Award for Leadership and Influence.
Pictures Martin Bostock'Susan Cooke, who is Lancashire County Council's head of PE, school sport and outdoor education, and has been given a national award by the Association for Physical Education's Award for Leadership and Influence.
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MEET the woman in charge of making sure PE isn’t what it used to be.

Many will remember the old days of school PE, when activities on offer were netball and hockey and athletics in the summer for girls, football for boys.

But times have changed, and with Susan Cooke in charge of PE in Lancashire’s schools, it’s no wonder.

The mum-of-two, who lives in Lytham, has been presented with a national award for her work as an adviser on PE, school sport and outdoor education.

Susan, who has worked for Lancashire County Council for 10 years, was given the Association for Physical Education’s Award for Leadership and Influence.

As head of PE, her role involves planning the health and safety aspects of PE and outdoor lessons, and supporting schools to take a reasonable, common sense approach – it’s not about red tape and bureaucracy.

“I like supporting schools to help make a difference to young people. I was really pleased about the award, it’s nice to have recognition, but I just feel I’m doing my job,” said Susan.

“I’m passionate about PE and sport in schools and feel it helps give young people the right start. What you experience in PE and sport at school can influence how people feel about exercise when they are older.

“PE is so important because it’s not just about the physical aspect – it encompasses leadership, learning to work in a team, it’s all-round education.”

Susan started on her career as a PE teacher when she used to live in Hertfordshire.

And she has always been sporty – these days she enjoys playing golf, going to the gym, cycling and swimming.

She said: “I’ve always liked a range of sport and different activities, and feel it is important to have a wide programme for schools. It’s not just hockey and netball these days.

“Not everybody is good at hockey or netball, but they may be good at other activities. ”

Lancashire is one of the few authorities in the country to have not scrapped outdoor centres as part of spending cuts. It still has four, which Susan, who has two daughters, is very proud of.

“We made the decision to keep our centres – they are so important. Recently we had a group of youngsters go to one of our centres for history lessons – they did archery in Tudor costume and Tudor dancing.

“It really brought history to life.”