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It can sometimes seem like a minefield when it comes to choosing a suitable sport's coaching partner for your school. There are a multitude of organisations, big and small, based in schools and sports centres, professional sports clubs and private companies, who all claim to be the right partner for you. Sport4Kids want to help you make the right decision and have come up with eight tips when looking for the right partner:
With more and more providers coming into the market, it can often seem like a minefield when it comes to choosing a suitable coaching partner. Finding out who other schools work with and the experiences these schools have had with other coaching providers helps in this selection process. Whether it is speaking with schools within local confederations/federations or clusters, referrals can really help reduce the time spent searching for the best partner. Once a recommendation has been made, it is important to learn the true credentials of the organisation in question. Turning up each week and not being a bother isn’t really enough to warrant a strong recommendation. S4K have highlighted below some of the other key points to consider.
There is now a plethora of sports coaching qualifications available to young people entering further education, as well as the traditional National Governing Body of sports qualifications. However there is no replacement for having the experience of working with groups of children in various age groups. We have met many, many young sports coaches with coaching awards and certificates bursting out of their pockets, but fall to pieces when faced with a group of tired, hungry five year olds on a Friday afternoon on a hot summer day towards the end of term! Sport4Kids invest heavily in training for coaches and helping them gain the necessary skills and tools to work with children in a variety of situations.
3. Range and quality
There are a number of specialist sports coaching organisations available to schools, as I am sure we all have our own areas of expertise and preference. What is crucial, however, is that coaching partners have the expertise and experience to deliver a range of sports, physical activity and exercise programmes to children. Football programmes aren’t always what is required throughout the school year! A thorough understanding of the needs of the school and children, as well as the curriculum requirements, is essential when it comes to putting together a quality PE and Sport programme. The S4K ActivKids programme has been recognised by AfPE’s PDB award for its quality, demonstrating the level of content
and delivery of S4K programmes.
4. Age specific programme
Teaching the same lessons to all year groups, but changing the way we speak or the equipment being used is not good enough. Equally as poor is using games and drills, or equipment, that are too difficult for younger children to understand or use. There should be complete transparency from prospective sports coaching partners in the lesson planning they will be using, and guarantees that they have access, or will be supplying, age appropriate sports equipment for all their lessons. If PE lessons are being taught, schools should check beforehand that the learning objectives of proposed lessons match those expected in the PE national curriculum.
5. DBS and insurance
When I started teaching in schools back in 2002, these were the only two pre-requisites that I was ever asked. Sometimes, however, they still seem to be overlooked. Different schools and local authorities take different approaches to DBS checks, but these two requirements really should be expected of any sports coaching provider. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of providers have this under control, but it should never be taken for granted that it is in place!
6. Training and Qualifications
Although I would always argue that the experience of the coach greatly outweighs their qualifications held, it is always prudent to ensure that coaches have training, certificates or qualifications in the areas in which they are coaching or teaching. Sport4Kids have s comprehensive recruitment and training programme in place to ensure that all of our coaches have the required skills to teach and deliver high quality classes. This includes areas such as child behaviour management, first aid, safeguarding and presentation skills (delivered by Royal Shakespeare Theatre tutors!)
7. Continuity and reliability
One of the biggest gripes I have frequently heard from schools is the lack of consistency in the coaching being delivered. This often is because of different coaches coming into schools each week, or a senior coach starting a programme and then being replaced by an inexperienced individual. There MUST be continuity in the programmes being delivered so that the children can achieve and learn. Schools understand that staff will be occasionally unavailable or organisations need to grow and develop new coaches, but there needs to be transparency and processes in place to ensure that this takes place without an adverse effect on the children. S4K have a number of policies and processes in place for this.
One of the best things (I think) working with children is that no two days are ever the same! For this reason sports coaching partners need to be flexible when working with schools. Whether it is changing where classes are being taught, or changing days because of events or trips, a good partner will understand these requirements, often at short notice, and be able to accommodate these changes.
For further information on how you can find out more about Sport4Kids and how they can become your school’s sports coaching partner, please visit www.sport4kids.biz, or call James Porter (Head of Schools and Nurseries) on 07855 757498.
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