Psychology teacher Paula Buckmaster is feeding Richard Taunton Sixth Form students’ bodies as well as their minds by giving them boxing lessons.
Paula is an accomplished boxer who has been competing for 13 years and after starting at the Southampton college in September decided to offer boxing sessions as part of the college’s enrichment programme for students. So far 15 students have signed up and she says the training is helping them build resilience and confidence that will benefit them in all areas of their life.
She says: “In boxing you can’t show fear, you can’t show tiredness, and that’s what I like about it and I think the students can carry boxing, the skills, to other things. So, say for example, you’re getting tired in an exam, you should have that mentality to keep going.
“Boxing is great for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – it improves your agility and mobility, builds your resilience and confidence and helps you relax and sleep better.”
Paula first began boxing as a child in London when her grandad taught her.
She started kickboxing training at 18 before going back to boxing 13 years ago. Since then she has had 21 fights. “I’ve fought in three different divisions, anything from 58kg to 63kg. In my last fight I had to cut my weight to 58kg and I think my ideal weight is 60kg,” she says.
She doesn’t know when her next fight will be but she still gets up at 4.30am to go running twice a week, does boxing training up to four days a week and does strength and conditioning training.
“I think boxing should be a curriculum sport, I really do,” she says. “It’s the agility, it’s the moving out of the way. Boxing is more about avoiding being hit than hitting. You’re moving all the time, you don’t need to be aggressive”.
She says she is lucky not to have sustained any real injuries in her career so far. “I’ve injured my arm and my knee in sparring, from preparing for a fight than an actual fight,” she says.
Among the students who take part in sessions twice a week is T-Level health student Jerald Sagun. He says: “I do boxing for the health and fitness and I really enjoy it. I go to the gym as well but I’m learning a lot here.”
Richard Taunton Principal Angela Berry said: “We are very fortunate to have Paula with us and I know the students are really enjoying the enrichment sessions with her. We put a lot of effort into our enrichment programme because it adds to the students’ learning experience, helps to make them more well-rounded and can inspire a lifelong interest in something new.”
Students at the college can choose from dozens of different enrichment programmes spanning sport, art, drama or interests such as science, board games, Esports, sign language or LGBT interests. Each year new enrichments are added based on students’ suggestions.