The original Five Star Award Scheme, created by Tom McNab, then National Coach for the south, was first introduced into secondary schools in the 1960s by the Amateur Athletics Association, the forerunner of the current athletics governing body for England, and was undoubtedly the most successful track and field award scheme ever devised, both educationally and financially, and also one of the best from any sport. It reached every secondary school in Britain and attracted big commercial sponsorship deals (Walls Ice Cream and Esso Petroleum), so enabling many other athletics development schemes to be funded, including one that brought Daley Thompson to the attention of top coaches. In its first full year (1968) some 25,000 certificates were issued and by the late 1970s well over a million certificates per year were awarded. Remembered by many ex-school children with great affection, the scheme is in fact still used by athletics clubs around the country today. The AAA still exists – although has lost its governing body status – and its chairman, Walter Nichols supports our plans to reintroduce and extend the scheme in Cumbria, wishing us ever success in our endeavours.
From an educational perspective 5 Star combined fun, simplicity, measurability and personal improvement – learning by doing. Now primary schools can enjoy the benefits of the 5 Star award. With the addition of 5 Steps (simple steps to technical competence in each event) learning can be significantly enhanced and endlessly built upon by and for all age groups. Above all this approach engages with children’s natural spirit of inquiry – about the self, the body, the mind and their interaction with the world. What greater gift can any sport provide for children?