Sport Growing Colleges – the importance of sport to achieving College objectives
Sport as a positive recruitment tool
A varied sport and physical activity offer encompassing curriculum, enrichment and competition opportunities can act as a positive recruitment tool, attracting young people to Colleges. Evidence suggests that students often select their preferred College based on the sports facilities, extracurricular sport activity and in some instances access to Sports Academies. Providing a wide ranging sporting offer can increase the attractiveness of the College to prospective students, thus supporting recruitment.
Sport as a tool for learner engagement
Sport and physical activity is a powerful tool to engage young people into learning. Sport and the introduction of Sports Academies has not only raised the profile of Colleges in the local communities but has acted as an essential tool to engage young people who would otherwise not have chosen the Further Education route. This is even more apparent in Colleges which offer a range of sports related vocational courses which appeal to disengaged young learners.
Sport as a tool to aid retention
Anecdotal evidence suggests that students in Sports Academies have better attendance and retention rates than their fellow students. Students who play and train within an Academy are more inclined to continue their studies in order to receive the support, guidance and expertise that the programme provides. In most cases, students have to succeed within both their sporting activity and their academic studies in order to stay on the programme which assists with both attendance and retention at College. Sport can also bring about unity across a College and contribute to increased satisfaction rates amongst students.
Raising self esteem and self confidence & improving behaviour
Many Colleges have evidence of how involvement in sport has raised self esteem, boosting the confidence of students. Involvement in sport has shown to increase motivation and dedication to academia and improve behaviour within class and within College as a whole.
A contribution to achievement, attainment and success
Sport is an ideal mechanism to help raise pupil attainment and achievement. The knowledge and experiences that are gained through participating in sport can be transferred to academic work. Many Colleges have evidence to show that students involved in sport are gaining higher levels of attainment than their peers who are not participating.
Photo: RFU Archive
Sport as a PR and marketing tool
For Colleges to be successful, good PR and marketing is essential. Sport is seen by Principals and Senior Management Teams as a mechanism to help promote the College externally and create a positive image. Sport can do this through local good news stories relating to the successes of sports teams, the achievements of individuals and also through sponsoring and supporting local community sporting events such as fun runs and local awards nights. The latter offers both community support whilst raising the profile of the College.
Valuing diversity and ensuring fully inclusive opportunities
A key measure for OFSTED is the need for Colleges to be inclusive with all activities. Sport can be a highly effective tool in ensuring students with a wide range of disabilities can gain life skills, confidence, self esteem and play a full part in the community.
Increased employment prospects
Sport within College allows students to gain leadership, officiating and coaching qualifications and, as a result, enhance their employability. It also helps with skill development and provides students with vital vocational experience to enhance their CV.
Having a strong sports curriculum offer, with qualifications ranging from Levels 1 to 5 supports the development of links with recognised sport and leisure employers. Students therefore have greater potential to gain employment either during their time at College or on finishing their studies. Many of the sports leadership and volunteering programmes within Colleges have allowed students to gain National Governing Body (NGB) accredited qualifications and gain voluntary and leadership hours within the community. Many Colleges have evidence of students going on to gain employment as a direct result of this.
A means by which to enhance partnerships & generate income
Having a programme of sport and physical activity assists in facilitating enhanced and more productive partnerships with other schools and Colleges in the area, and with local agencies such as local authorities, Community Sports Networks and National Governing Bodies of Sport. Engaging with key partners and developing relationships through sport can help to bring in extra funding and expertise to support delivery at the College. By working with local partners, many Colleges have secured funding to help improve their sporting offer. Sport can be also used to help develop College-community links and increase community volunteering opportunities.
Helping to improve OFSTED Inspections
There are some examples of Colleges which have used their sport and physical activity offer to boost Self Assessment Reports and contribute to improving OFSTED results.
Sport can clearly contribute to a range of College objectives. Having an attractive sporting offer will aid recruitment and retention of students, help individual students to gain additional life skills and qualifications, improve grades and gain vital work experience, and as a result improve their overall employability.
Increased levels of participation in sport and physical activity amongst students supports the health and well-being of the College community. As result learners are more likely to be happier, more productive and more satisfied with their overall student experience.
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