This September, the Gorse Academies Trust is embarking upon an ambitious new sports programme which will, by 2018, stretch across all five of its schools.

With the opening of the new £1.1 million Leeds Boathouse in Stourton, and as part of a city-wide drive to develop the sport of rowing in Leeds, Gorse students will be getting the opportunity to try their hand at a sport normally only available to privately educated students.

Within three years, Elliott Hudson College, Ruth Gorse Academy, Morley Academy, Farnley Academy and Bruntcliffe Academy will all have fulltime professional rowing coaches delivering whole-school rowing programmes in their schools. All students will be taught indoor and on water rowing as part of the PE curriculum.

In Year 9, the 40 most talented and dedicated of these students will be invited to join their school’s development squad. In partnership with Leeds University, the coaching staff will draw on the university’s academic and research expertise in fields such as sports science, nutrition, psychology, biomechanics, mechanical engineering and data analytics. These faculties will work closely with Gorse staff and students to support the programme, drawing on the latest scientific research, and applying it at every stage of the athletes’ development.

In time, the best 20-30 Year 11 students from Ruth Gorse, Morley, Farnley and Bruntcliffe, who will have been rowing for up to five years, will be selected and invited to join the Year 12 performance squad at Elliott Hudson. Such strength and depth will exist nowhere else in the country. Upon graduation, and if their academic and athletic achievements warrant it, students will be encouraged to continue their rowing careers in Leeds University Boat Club or any other university they choose.

The Gorse Rowing Programme is ambitious for its young people in every sense. The trust’s commitment to this programme is for the long term. Watch this space.