Steyning Grammar School PE Teacher Wendy Russell wins Disability Sports Coach of the Year
14th December 2015

On 1st December Wendy Russell, Steyning Grammar School PE Teacher and Hockey Coach attended the Sports Coach UK Awards in Manchester where she won the ‘Disability Coach of the Year Award’.

The UK Coaching Awards honour sports coaches and organisations that have demonstrated outstanding success over the last 12 months, and are seen as one of the most prestigious within the coaching community.

This award has been won for revolutionising the way deaf or hard of hearing young people take part in hockey.  This has been achieved by creating a hockey-specific sign language. 

This came after discovering that only 11.5% of deaf young people do sport outside of Physical Education.  The reason many gave for this was because they had to go to hearing clubs, and a lot of them felt isolated because they needed extra support; and also that people didn’t know how to interact with them. Wendy wanted to set up a hockey club that was for deaf people only so that they could feel included and safe within that environment, so applied for and gained funding to run a Deaf Hockey Sportivate project in Brighton.  This is the first deaf hockey club in Great Britain. 


Wendy Russell receiving the Disability Coach of the Year Award 2015

In order to communicate with the youngsters a new hockey-specific sign language was developed. 

Wendy explained:  “The only sign I could find was for naming the actual sport hockey, so I needed to create 30 others that would allow me quickly to not only explain what we were doing and working on, but also how to give feedback to the players.”

This remarkable new hockey-specific sign language has now been ratified by Remark and endorsed by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).  This is also now being rolled out by UK Deaf Sport, NDCS and England Hockey, and will be used across the country by teachers and participants.

Wendy has also won the Sussex Sports Award Sportivate Project of the Year and was shortlisted in the top 5 for the ‘Community Award’ in The Sunday Times & Sky Sports News Sportswoman of the Year Awards.

Wendy is an England Hockey Level 2 coach and also a regional hockey coach as well as an Active Sussex coach mentor and a Project 500 (more women more coaches) ambassador for Sussex.

Nick Wergan, Headteacher Steyning Grammar School said: “We are delighted and proud for Wendy, this is well deserved. It is great to see the dedication of our fantastic staff being recognised; great teaching, alongside purposeful practice and self motivation, enables students to reach their full potential. Wendy's work embodies this commitment in and outside school.” 


Background Information on Steyning Grammar School

A unique, successful and dynamic learning community

A thriving comprehensive day and boarding school for students ages 11-19 set in the beautiful countryside of the South Downs, with close links to Brighton and the South Coast. Steyning Grammar School celebrated 400 years of excellence during the academic year 2014.

We are a large school with over 2000 students across one of the largest catchment areas in Sussex - this size enables us to offer the widest opportunities and a curriculum of breadth and depth that is core to our success. We offer nearly 30 subjects at GCSE and over 30 at A-Level.

We have 3 different entry points for students into our school, Year 7, Year 9 & Year 12.  Our listed building on our Church Street site for Years 7-8 offers the ideal nurturing transition between KS2 and KS4, a smaller stepping stone to the larger Shooting Field site for Years 9-13. We offer a 3 year KS4 which has led to excellent results at GCSE. An OfSTED ‘good with outstanding features’, students are extremely keen to learn and this is reflected in good examination results.

Steyning Grammar School has one of the most successful state boarding provisions in the UK, the only one in Sussex. Our Boarding School is rated Outstanding by Ofsted.

We have high ambitions to be one of the best schools in the country

Our ‘Journey to Excellence’ is built on traditions of excellence and highest expectations, combined with a commitment to innovation and new thinking.  We are determined to remain innovative and forward looking in our teaching, professional development, distributive leadership and curriculum design.

We believe in the limitless potential of our students through intrinsic motivation, excellent teaching and purposeful effort.  Intrinsic motivation requires students to believe in themselves, which is why we are embedding ‘Learning Characteristics’ at the core of our school.  We encourage purposeful effort and support the skills of grit, growth-mindset, self-control, curiosity and zest that our students need to stake their claim to their exciting futures.


Our Sixth Form College, rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, is one of the largest ‘in a school’ in the South of England, and a highly successful A Level specialist provider.  Our A Level programme includes a broad range of academic and vocational courses together with BTEC Level 3.

99% overall pass rate for A Level students with 100% pass rate across more than 30 subjects

A full range of enrichment activities are offered including the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.  Students are also encouraged to support the local community through volunteering and fundraising work.

For further details on the school and online prospectus, please visit

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