Denton teacher overcomes poor facilities to deliver sporting stars

A DENTON-BASED primary school coach is celebrating 15 years of sporting excellence – despite being faced with inadequate facilities and a myriad of problems along the way.

Darran Gorman, who heads the PE department at Russell Scott, recently guided his latest group of stars to a 10th consecutive championship title at the Indoor Athletics event.

Hosted by Denton Community College and co-ordinated by the Tameside School Sports Partnership, the event saw year five and six pupils battle it out in a series of activities to be crowned the best in the borough.

And to very little surprise, Russell Scott excelled on the afternoon and took first spot to cement a decade-long winning streak.

Darran Gorman (right)

As well as making history, victory has secured a position at the Greater Manchester Winter School Games, which is taking place later this year at a number of venues across Sport City, including the Manchester Basketball Centre and Regional Athletics Arena.

The competition has become a key date on the school calendar and provides pupils with a platform to showcase their skills and ability in a number of sports, ranging from boccia and athletics to rugby league and basketball.

Russell Scott are certainly no strangers to the event, having qualified and impressed at previous instalments of the competition in recent years.

However, this year’s competition will be extra special as 2024 ushered in some desperately needed and much-welcome news for teachers, pupils and parents.

Following an almost decade-long battle against structural problems, water leaks and sewage overflows, caused by the now bankrupt Carillion, the school has been promised a new facility – but no date, at present, has been confirmed.

It is hoped that, once the facility is opened, there will be areas to facilitate sporting activities and competitions to push the school to the next level of excellence – much to the delight of Darren.

But, in the meantime, the former military man will provide sessions without such luxuries – not that it has ever stopped him from delivering success.

Just take a look at the school’s trophy cabinet which includes, amongst other accolades, the Greater Manchester School Commitment to PE and Sport award.

Won in 2018, the award recognises the efforts of the school to enhance pupils’ lives through the means of physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle.

Darren regards the award as the best moment of his career and is aiming to recapture the trophy in the future – especially with the boost of better facilities at a new school.

Speaking to The Correspondent, Darren said: “Winning the award in 2018 epitomised everything we do at the school. It’s a reflection of the hard work carried out by everyone involved and a testament to how it has paid off.

“Since I arrived 15 years ago, the school has placed great emphasis delivering sport to a high standard, competing with a winning mentality and driving expectations to their absolute maximum.

“In recent years there has been a massive emphasis on taking part, but in my opinion I want more for my pupils and I want them to have the hunger to win trophies and competitions.

“We’re not going to win everything – that’s a given – but we do our best to ensure we have the best possible chance of doing so.

“Steve Marsland, the headteacher, fully supports this mindset and the children have also bought into the vision – they want to be the best that they can be.

“One of the biggest things I instil into the pupils is dealing with losing – you have to learn to lose before you can enjoy winning.

“I feel that there’s a lack of winning mentality in youngsters these days – not just in schools but across life as well. We’re missing that cutting edge and it needs reintroducing quickly.

“Competition starts in schools, continues in higher education and makes its way into adulthood across varies areas of life. Sport is very highly valued at the school as it has a positive impact not just on a child’s skillset and physical development, but on their mentality as well.

“If our pupils fail to win a competition, they’re clearly disappointed. However, it provides them with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes while dealing with defeat in a mature manner.”

Darren has been assisted in his aims by a number of individuals.

He credits Stephen Scott, Joe Henthorn and Rachel Burke for engaging pupils in sport.

But, more importantly to Darren, the trio have also played a huge role in moulding the pupils into decent members of society.

It’s a value the school rates highly, and one which has rubbed off on a former star pupil.

Darren added: “I’ve seen many pupils excel in sport, but the one I consider to be the best, for a number of reasons, is Rhys Bennett at Manchester United.

“He was so driven from a young age and had great ability in numerous sports. He’s now on-loan at Stockport County until the end of the season, and while he’s played for one of the biggest clubs in the world and captained the youth team to FA Cup glory, he’s retained his local roots and has a great attitude towards staff and pupils – it’s not changed at all.

“Playing sport at a high level is one thing, but the manner in which an individual conducts themselves, both on and off the playing field, is what truly matters. We want our pupils to look at Rhys and see him as a shining example of how you should behave.

“Sport can be a real driver for good – it teaches youngsters how to deal with emotions – both losing and winning – while instilling a sense of work ethic and discipline they’ll need when faced with challenges in adulthood.”

Darren’s achievements have been made all the more impressive given the lack of resources at his disposal.

He makes it clear, however, that his drive and enthusiasm has never wavered, thanks in no small part to Steve and Rachel.

Without their ongoing support and commitment to excellence, he believes things could have planned out differently.

He continued: “When it comes to Steve, I couldn’t wish for a better boss, teacher and friend.

“He has always been one hundred per cent behind me, prioritised sport and attended competitions on a regular basis.

“And despite all the structural problems with the school and the lack of playing field, he has always had the same passion to drive kids into sport. He’s been at the forefront of everything since I’ve been at the school – and I hope he will be for many years to come.

“Rachel has also been instrumental in our success. As well as dealing with her full-time teaching role, she’s also taken on coaching and still, to this day, runs the daily mile initiative with the children.

“She’s never failed in her duties and I can’t stress enough how important she has been in the process.

“Rachel has also played a massive role in terms of encouraging girls into sport. The girls really look up to her, which can only be good for the future of this school and sports clubs in the area and beyond.”

As The Correspondent reported on recently, the school currently has a star in the making with 11-year-old Jack Stirling on the books at Burnley FC.

Darren will be keeping close tabs on the youngster as he looks to help the school’s football team progress in the Pokemon National Football Cup.

If they manage to progress through the regional finals, pupils can look forward to a date, in the finals, at a Premier League ground.

But, for the time being, Russell Scott will be competing in a number of events, hosted by the Tameside School Sports Partnership, with one thing in mind: winning.

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