Get to know Ben Moir...

Get to know Ben Moir...

Ben Moir talking on school life, the importance of sport in schools & much more.

Ben Moir has a long-standing relationship with Grays Teamsports. Ben became a Brand Ambassador for Grays Teamsports in February 2022, having had an association with the company since 2018.  Ben is one of our more unique Ambassadors as he is currently Interim Head at one of our flagship schools having been Deputy Head for the previous seven years. Prior to this, Ben was a Director of Sport for 15 years. We are looking forward to showing you all a School’s inside view on sport and can't wait for you to get to know him...

Can you tell us a little about Longacre School?
Longacre is a co-educational independent school for children aged 2 to 11. We are just five miles south of Guildford, set in the glorious Surrey Hills. Children have woods to explore, time to enjoy the fresh air, and encouragement to get muddy.  Longacre has a proud history and the motto of the school’s founder, ‘A happy heart goes all the way’ is still very much part of the school’s ethos. 

The cheerful and purposeful atmosphere at Longacre is apparent as soon as you make your way up the drive and see the ‘pencil fences’. Here, children are valued as individuals and are encouraged to fulfil their potential in every facet of school life. Personal and social development is highly valued, enabling each child to grow in confidence as they mature.

At Longacre, we believe that children learn more effectively when they are happy, and that excellent academic results can be achieved without subjecting children to hothouse pressure. The fact that our children gain a range of scholarships, and that they transfer successfully to their senior school of choice, is evidence that this approach works.

An independent school in every sense, at Longacre we set our own agenda and use our wealth of experience to give the children the best preparatory education. We are not tied to any senior school and a large part of our success is down to understanding our children, and knowledge of the wide choice of destination schools.

Can you tell us about sport at Longacre?
Longacre, like many Prep Schools, adopts a ‘sport for all’ approach, allowing all children to explore and participate in as wide a range of sports as possible, both recreationally and competitively.  We were the first school on the circuit to approach competitive sport with a ‘21Century hat on’, focusing on mixed-gender sport and giving children the choice. 

Whilst putting the Director of Sport cap back on during COVID, I took the decision for the school to put out mixed cricket teams, as opposed to the boys and girls playing separately.  Such a change had no impact on staffing, facilities and fixtures but allowed all children to play at a level that was more befitting of their ability and standard.  

Having seen the success of this change, we decided to take it a stage further and give the children in the Prep School the choice each term.  So yes, we have boys playing netball and girls playing football and rugby.  In this modern world, we have a responsibility to provide every child with access to all activities, with no stigma or pre-conceptions.  This is now part of life at Longacre with nobody giving it a second thought.  It still amazes me the number of schools asking for advice on how we implemented such a change, convincing governors, staff and parents (maybe a conversation for another time).

Why is sport so important in a school environment?
For me, the importance of sport at school goes way beyond the obvious promotion of physical fitness and health.  Sport teaches children of all ages skills that are essential for success in various aspects of life.  Fostering skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication as well as providing opportunities for social interaction, building a sense of community as well as a sense of belonging are invaluable when setting children up for success in their future life.  In addition, sports teach valuable lessons in resilience, discipline and sportsmanship, better preparing us for the challenges faced beyond the sports field.

What is your favourite sport to coach at school and why?
For me, I thoroughly enjoy coaching rugby at school level.  Rugby is one of only a few sports that without question is accessible to all.  In a Prep School such as Longacre, I love the fact that we can play mixed-gender rugby watching the boys and girls develop those valuable life-skills such as resilience, communication and sportsmanship.  Rugby massively promotes physical activity but also social interaction.  Whilst Rugby creates challenges for all children it is also incredibly rewarding for them, when they master new skills making playing the game an enriching and fulfilling experience. 

What is your favourite sport at the moment?
As we are moving into the cricket season and as this is the only sport I still play competitively, this is clearly going to be the answer.  After twenty plus years of playing in the 1st Team, I am enjoying being put out to pasture in the 2 XI, watching the youngsters develop and hopefully having a positive impact on their development.  That said I am really enjoying watching the brand of rugby being played by the Red Roses and the impact they are having on the game of rugby and women’s sport.  Through being a Grays Teamwear flagship school, one of our girls had the opportunity to go and watch the Roses train and take part in a photo shoot, a day she will never forget.  We have also been lucky enough to have Emily Scarratt visit the school and deliver some sessions to the children.  The impact these ladies are having on the younger audience should not be under-estimated.

Which coach has impacted you the most in your sporting journey? 
The person who has influenced me the most was the Director of Sport, whose department I worked in during my GAP Year.  Floyd Steadman was at Colet Court (St Paul’s Prep) when I worked there for two terms, back in 1996.  As many of us know, Floyd’s career has spanned elite rugby as captain of Saracens, and education as Headmaster at several prep schools.  Floyd is a particularly admirable man and someone that you aspire to be.  In only two terms of knowing and working with Floyd, I had a clear picture as to the teacher and leader I wanted to be.  Floyd empowered those around him, giving them confidence to not only be themselves but to succeed at all they turned their hand to.

If you could play any other sport what would it be and why?
During my time as a Director of Sport and beyond, I have been fortunate enough to give most things a try.  Having run numerous trips to the Ardeche River in the South of France, one sport I would love to do more regularly is kayaking.  It is a great way not only to explore different places with a real feeling of space, but relieve stress and enjoy the tranquillity of the water.  Whilst away each summer, I make sure that the day starts out on the water, headphones in, paddling whilst watching the sunrise and surroundings come to life.  There really is no better way to start the day.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring Director of Sport?
Many will talk about developing a clear and comprehensive vision for your department.  Personally, the most valuable piece of advice I can give is to prioritise building strong relationships with all key stakeholders (colleagues, parents, children and external agencies).  Effective communication and collaboration are key to creating a positive and supportive sports environment.

What is your favourite quote?