Team of teachers use London Marathon to inspire children to aim high

Team of teachers use London Marathon to inspire children to aim high
Tyrone West, the principal at Milton Keynes Primary Pupil Referral Unit, is one of 15 Team TCS Teachers taking part in the TCS London marathon (Handout/PA)

A group of teachers are using the TCS London Marathon to inspire their students to learn about the transformative and empowering effect of moving more.

Fifteen Team TCS Teachers will run the 26.2-mile marathon on Sunday April 21 and will also encourage children to complete 2.6 miles each at their school before May 10 to earn their school a trophy.

Some schools will also take part in the TCS Mini London Marathon on Saturday April 20 where children and young people aged four to 17 will run, jog, walk, or wheel one mile or 2.6km in central London.

More than 14,000 participants are registered in the free event which rewards them with a medal when they complete the course around St James’s Park, central London, and cross the same finish line on The Mall which will greet marathon runners the following day.

Cel Smith said running has been ‘life-changing’ (Handout/PA)

It is a first marathon for Cel Smith, 40, a teacher at Larkhall Primary Campus, in Clapham, south London, who started running with Couch to 5k during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I’m not a fast runner and I was never good at sports growing up, so getting into running was really life-changing for me.

“It was a real achievement turning it into a habit and I’m so proud that I’ve managed to be really consistent with it over the last three years.

“I am a trans, non-binary and autistic, and running gives me the confidence and optimism to face the challenges that come with living as part of a marginalised community.”

Charlotte Jones will dedicate her marathon to five-year-old Malika who died in February (Handout/PA)

The reception class teacher wants to “inspire children to want to take part in things that are challenging or to want to enjoy physical activity even if it’s something that they are not naturally drawn to”.

Charlotte Jones, 37, teaches at Cherry Garden School, in Peckham, south-east London, which is a special school for pupils aged two to 11 who have severe and complex learning differences.

“Thinking back to my own school experience, I was the one on the sidelines, I wouldn’t get picked to be on the netball team or anything,” she told the PA news agency.

“My experience of school and PE was probably quite negative. I’m happy that I’m in a position now when I can hopefully make it quite positive for children who struggle with movement.”

Ms Jones started running following the death of her father Chris in 2016 and said it has helped her to navigate different emotions, build up new routines and build new friendships.

Charlotte Jones with her father Chris Jones (Handout/PA)

She will dedicate her marathon to five-year-old Malika, a pupil at her former school, The Bridge Primary in Islington, north London, which is a specialist school for pupils with severe learning difficulties and/or autism.

Malika died after falling into the canal near her home in February and Ms Jones is raising money in her memory for sensory equipment for the school.

Ryan Thomas, 35, an assistant principal at Beck Row Primary Academy, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said all pupils can get involved in the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools regardless of whether they are able to run the distance.

Mr Thomas, who is the school’s special educational needs coordinator and safeguarding lead, told PA: “We will make ways for that to happen no matter what it is and also to make them feel like it is equal.

Ryan Thomas is fundraising to take the whole school on a seaside trip to Hunstanton, Norfolk (Handout/PA)

“Running round to someone might be a normal thing to do but doing it on a scooter might be something extraordinary because you overcome that barrier.”

Another pupil plans to swim most of the distance and Mr Thomas said that rather than expecting children to do what they think is “normal”, he encourages children to aspire to do things differently and be individuals.”

Mr Thomas is using the event to raise money for the National Autistic Society and also to fund a seaside trip to Hunstanton, Norfolk, for the whole school.

“It’s ambitious, it’s a bit crazy but children will talk about it for a long time to come. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Tyrone West says being active is a great way to engage children in learning (Handout/PA)

Tyrone West, 35, is the principal at Milton Keynes Primary Pupil Referral Unit, which supports children who are struggling in a mainstream school and need additional help.

“For children in our setting, they are disengaged with learning when they come to us.

“One of the things they tend to really enjoy is their PE lessons, is being active. By making that our culture we are much more likely to get children engaged in learning again.”

He added: “Our children are fantastic. They really are. It’s about working with them and finding a way that works for them.”

The PRU students will also take part in mini marathon in school.

Amy Shocker, head of corporate social responsibility, UK and Ireland, for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), said: “The mission of Team TCS Teachers is to celebrate and honour teachers who give so much to their students, schools, and communities.

“Much like teaching, running a marathon takes considerable preparation and determination.

“At TCS, we are committed to supporting the teachers as they take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles on the streets of London, and all the students taking part in the TCS Mini London Marathon.”

TCS Mini London Marathon participants who take part in central London receive £10 to spend on PE or IT equipment for their school.

Fitness coach Joe Wicks, who found fame during the Covid-19 pandemic with his PE With Joe YouTube videos, will lead warm-ups, will start off the runners and hand out medals.

Both the TCS Mini London Marathon, which includes championship races for the best young athletes in the country, and the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools are free to enter.

Schools taking part will be given teaching resources including tips and guidance on how to get pupils active and information from the event’s charity partner WWF-UK (the World Wide Fund for Nature) on how to take action for climate, nature and sustainability.

– Schools can still sign up for the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools by visiting:

– To support Charlotte, visit:

– To sponsor Ryan, visit:

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