A love of sport and a love of teaching has brought me joy - Sheffield award-winner's call to get people into teaching

A love of sport and a love of teaching has brought Frankie Arundle so much joy that now she’s encouraging people to get into both.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 1:01 pm

Award-winning Frankie has been a teacher for 13 years and taught at Firth Park Academy for six.

The married mum-of-two now has various different role at the academy. She is associate assistant principal leading on mental health and wellbeing and is also diversity and equality lead.

Frankie has a love of sport – basketball in particular – and this year she won the prestigious Pearson Teaching Award, known as the Oscars of the teaching profession.

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PE Teacher Frankie Arundel who is promoting the 'Get into Teaching' campaign. Picture Scott Merrylees

“I really do love my job and I genuinely do. I feel really privileged to do it, because I love it so much I genuinely do,” said Frankie.

Her love of teaching and sport stems from her family, watching her mother Sharon Morton who was also a teacher.

Frankie used to go into school and watch her work with children – and was heavily influenced by her.

Sadly Frankie’s mum died 10 years ago this month. She played a pivotal role in Frankie’s love of sport and teaching and had played basketball for Sheffield Hatters.

PE Teacher Frankie Arundel who is promoting the 'Get into Teaching' campaign. Picture Scott Merrylees

“My mum was a teacher in Southey Green, she was just such an amazing teacher, she’s so kind and compassionate and really understood children.

“I saw that when I used to go in on inset days. My sister’s a teacher as well. I think it’s just in the family.

“I’d encourage anyone else as well if they’re passionate about teaching. It just allows you to shape the lives of young people and gives you the opportunity to fulfill their potential and realise their ambitions. It’s very rewarding – and I can't see myself getting tired of that.

“Every day is different. Everyday has something new. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s genuinely true,” said Frankie.

PE Teacher Frankie Arundel who is promoting the 'Get into Teaching' campaign. Picture Scott Merrylees

When Frankie was 13 she was allowed to tag along with her parents to watch a Sheffield Hatters game at Hillsborough Leisure centre, and she was hooked.

“I went along and thought ‘right, I want to play this sport’.

“I was 13 and I’d played a lot of netball and things like that, but never found a sport that I’d seriously wanted to play,” said Frankie.

“I ended up playing under 13s and under 15s for Sheffield Hatters.

“But there were some really amazing coaches, and a lot of them were actually PE teachers as well, so they were really good role models for me and I just got hooked.”

Frankie has always worked hard and persevered at basketball, but nearly walked away from the sport before she really got started.

“When I was 14, I went for Yorkshire trials, but didn’t get in, and I was gutted.

“I thought ‘right, that's it I’m quitting’, but my mum and dad encouraged me. My coaches, everyone encouraged me, and I carried on and went back the next year, and got picked for Yorkshire.

“I played for Yorkshire, then went on to England trials, got into the England development squad.” said Frankie.

Frankie went on to represent her country several times, and at under-15 level went to her first tournament overseas.

”I went to my first tournament in Sweden, the Europeans,” she said.

Frankie went on to Captain England at under 18 level and was also named player of the year in 2002.

“I think just having some really great role models, who believed in me, people who gave me really good advice just boosted my self esteem, was really great.” said Frankie

Frankie had tournament success with the Hatters, winning national competition Final Fours in 2001.

“You have four national divisions,” she explained. “If you come in the top four you go through to the finals, and we won that.”

Frankie’s success with the Hatters and the influence of role models has helped her in both careers.

“The relationships with people, the experiences, the life skills – I just feel really privileged to have done all that, and I really enjoyed it,” she added.

One of Frankies early sporting highlights was an unexpected opportunity to play at Wembley.

“I used to train with the division one team, that’s the top team with the Hatters, and I went to watch them in the final at Wembley.

“I don't know why, I took my basketball boots with me and one of the basketball players got injured during the warm up, and the coach, Betty Codona – she’s a legend in basketball, and was also a PE teacher at the school I teach at now – she got me out of the audience and got me kitted up.

“I warmed up and I was on the team at Wembley, it was amazing.”

Away from basketball Frankie also played other sports too including rugby union at university and ‘aerial hoops’.

“It’s really good for the core and your strength. I suppose it’s a form of artistic gymnastics,” she said.

“I go down to Gravity Fitness in Sheffield, and it is literally a hoop dangling from the ceiling, you have to get into the hoop and do different positions, and link them together.

“I’ve always wanted to keep active, because the benefits are amazing for wellbeing, your physical health and mental health.”

Frankie is a great advocate of sport and also of teaching as a career.

“There are so many different parts of teaching, I started out in PE and now I'm a mental health wellbeing leader, with links to sport.

“There is so much career progression, I’d definitely encourage people to go into teaching,” she said.

“If you want to be a teacher, at whatever age or stage in your career, you definitely can do that, there are so many routes into teaching.”

Teaching has always been in Frankie’s blood, she had her first taste of coaching when she was 15 coaching with the Hatters.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a teacher, but I knew I liked working with young people,” said Frankie.

Frankie feels lucky to have had all the role models and influences around her to get her to where she is now.

As well as her mother Frankie also credits her father Martin Morton for her success.

“My dad is brilliant, he was also a keen sportsman playing football for Sheffield boys in his youth and was the first general manager at the English Institute of Sport.

“He was really involved in so many events and worked on the paralympics when it was in London.

“He’s absolutely a sporting legend,” she said.

Opportunities that some young people and children may take for granted aren't lost on her.

Frankie said: “I was lucky I had my mum and dad to drive me places. Not everyone has that.

“I know how lucky I’ve been, so I guess I want to be that person for others if I can be.”