Introducing…Penny Caudle, Head of Girls Games

As Eltham College prepares for full co-education from 2020 a new role has been created for Head of Girls’ Games. We spoke with the successful applicant, Penny Caudle about her background and her plans for Sport at Eltham.


Q. Where were you educated?

A. After Sixth Form I went to the University of Exeter  and completed my BSc (Honours) in Exercise and Sport Sciences. I always knew that I wanted to work with children so, as soon as I finished my degree, I undertook my Postgraduate Certificate in Education: Secondary Physical Education, also at Exeter.

Q. What schools have you taught at previously?

A. I did my teacher training at Ivybridge Community College and Kingsbridge Community College. From there I moved to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School where I am currently Head of Hockey and Head of Year 8.

Q. What sports have you been involved in? 

A. I have been active and involved in a number of competitive sports from a young age. I started swimming aged five and trained with my local swimming club at a competitive level until I was 18. I am a trained lifeguard and worked in America for three summers as a Waterfront Specialist where I led sessions in sailing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and swimming. I started playing hockey when I was 11 and played on the indoor and outdoor first teams at school and for Reading Ladies. I was selected to play county level for Berkshire when I was 14. When I was at Exeter University, I played and captained my hockey team for two consecutive years and I currently play hockey for the Bromley and Beckenham Ladies 2 team. At school, I also enjoyed playing netball for the 1st team and still play locally in the White Oak League. I played U14 county level cricket for Oxfordshire as well. I also enjoy skiing, have achieved my PADI Open Water Scuba Diving qualification and in 2017 I trained for five months in order to take part in the London Marathon!

Q. What led you into a career in teaching?

A. Ultimately, I love working with young people and have a passion for providing opportunities for young people to develop and learn. I thoroughly enjoyed school and am very grateful for the opportunities I had at school and the teachers that supported me. Therefore, I feel very strongly about all young people having the best start in the life, in a supportive and safe environment where they can develop. Personal development is something I feel is very important. At my previous school, aside from teaching PE, I have been heavily involved in leading personal development opportunities, such as a World Challenge expedition to Zambia and Malawi. These types of programmes are one of the reasons I was led towards a career in teaching. Travelling is a key passion of mine and has driven me to provide these opportunities for young people, as they are incredible learning experiences where essential life skills are developed.

Q. What do you hope that your students learn from you when you take lessons?

A. I hope that students learn how important participating in physical activity is, not only for their health but also for the development of other key skills. I hope that they develop a passion for at least one area of sport that they will continue once their school career has ended. I hope thatmy students gain confidence in planning their own exercise sessions and the ability to set themselves realistic goals. Sports Science is fascinating so I’d love to incorporate some theory elements into my lessons so that students are able to apply their learning.

Q. How do you see your role at Eltham College developing? What ideas do you have for girls’ games at the College?

A. I am aiming for a broad and balanced curriculum that is accessible for all girls. I would love to include the creative disciplines such as trampolining, gymnastics, synchronised swimming and dance, to allow students to express themselves and to be challenged independently. I would also love to introduce a fitness programme whereby girls can learn to use gym equipment safely, learn how to train appropriately and be offered additional classes such as Pilates and Zumba. A lot of key social and leadership skills are learnt through team sports, therefore I would love to develop opportunities for girls in sports such as Netball, Hockey, Cricket and Rounders. Finally, sports that are performed individually allow students to develop other personal and cognitive skills, so I would like to introduce Badminton, Outdoor Adventurous Activities (i.e. rock climbing) and Athletics to girls’ games.

Q. What would you like to achieve at Eltham College?

A. I hope to achieve a girls’ sports programme that is accessible to all students and to ensure that PE is a subject which everyone can enjoy. I would also like for sports teams to do well in local and national tournaments and give students the opportunity to compete on a regular basis. I would also like to offer sport tours and hope that I can continue providing additional opportunities for personal development.

Q. What piece of advice do you give to students before a big game?

A. Stay focused on the end goal and, most importantly, enjoy yourself!

Q. Who is your favourite sporting icon and why?

A. Dame Kelly Holmes – she was an incredible athlete and continues to be an excellent role model. Kelly went through periods of injury and times when she was not performing at her best, but ultimately she kept persevering, which led to her achieving her all-time goal of two Olympic gold medals in 2004. That to me is inspirational and demonstrates that, if you work hard enough for your goal, you can succeed. Also, I love the work she now does with her Trust where she supports young athletes and helps disadvantaged young people across the UK.