A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 9 March 2018

Our academies in the South West have this year welcomed a group of sports coaching apprentices, who are helping to deliver fantastic PE lessons to pupils while gaining valuable experience in industry.

Arranged through a partnership with Bristol-based training provider Coachmakers, the apprenticeships commenced at the beginning of this academic year and offer apprentices a pathway into PE teaching or sports coaching. Ben Roberts, PE Coordinator for the South West, and Sam Hepper, an apprentice at Ilminster Avenue fill us in on why the programme is working so well for everyone involved.

Putting theory to practice

All six of the South West’s apprentices are school leavers under the age of 18, looking to gain further qualifications as well as relevant work experience. According to Ben, the apprenticeships on offer and the opportunity to work with our academies offers both.

“The balance is great. Our apprentices spend one day a week in college, learning about the theory side. They then get plenty of time on site, applying their learning.”

By spending four days a week in an academy, apprentices are immersed in the learning environment and immediately able to apply the lessons learned at college, and as Ben points out, this is important for their development.

“This isn’t the kind of thing you can just pick up from a book, you need to get in there and take classes if you want to learn how to teach or coach.”

A mutually beneficial relationship

It’s not just the apprentices that have been benefitting from the experience. Having an extra member of staff has helped to free up more planning and preparation time for class teachers, as apprentices can take pupils for their PE lessons with supervision from an LSA.

Furthermore, as all of the apprentices are under the age of 18 their apprenticeship is covered by the government, meaning that employing the group comes at no extra cost to the academy or the trust.

According to Ben, another advantage of the programme is the fact that each academy is allocated its own dedicated apprentice. Pupils are thoroughly enjoying their lessons and have developed great bonds with their new sports coaches.

“They all get on with the children really well. When we put the model together, we decided it was important to have the same apprentice in each academy, four days a week. It’s great for the children to have that consistency.”

By building this strong relationship between apprentice and academy, Ben hopes that the programme will also help with future PE provision. He believes that by giving this opportunity to local young people and training them within the academy, the region is growing sports coaches and PE teachers that will be keen to work with the trust in the future.

Hands-on experience in differing environments

Day to day, the apprentices with previous work or volunteering experience are given the opportunity to take their own PE classes, supported by a learning support assistant. Apprentices with less experience begin by shadowing Ben or another sports coach at the academy, with the aim being that they will eventually take their own classes. During any free time on site apprentices are allocated to classrooms, paired with experienced teachers to learn more about behaviour management and offer support where appropriate.

Ben has assigned one apprentice to each academy, allowing them to build relationships with staff and pupils and ensuring that they have a chance to work with every year group. Through this system, apprentices can gain a breadth of knowledge and experience across the board, from leading balance and coordination activities with key stage 1 pupils to coaching football with key stage 2 pupils.

For Sam, being given the opportunity to take PE classes independently has been incredibly rewarding.

“Having the responsibility to teach children new sports skills and seeing their development in PE is something I’m extremely proud of.” Sam Hepper, Coachmakers apprentice at Ilminster Avenue

Thanks to this experience, many of the apprentices taking part now have a clearer idea about their future.  Some have expressed an interest in becoming sports coaches with E-ACT, while others have been inspired to apply to train as teachers.

We take this opportunity to thank our sports coaching apprentices for the fantastic work that they have been doing. If you’d like more information on apprenticeships across the trust, please contact HR.team@E-ACT.org.uk.