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North Hertfordshire College Sports Academy Programme Enhancement & Exit and Progression Opportunities
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

CONTEXT North Hertfordshire College (NHC) is a large general further education college based across five main centres in Stevenage and Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Created in 2006, and delivered in partnership with Watford Football Club, the NHC Sports Academy provides the opportunity for talented athletes to develop their skills in a professional football environment whilst also achieving vocational qualifications. Previous students have progressed to pursue roles in coaching, teaching, sports development and even as professional athletes. OBJECTIVES The primary aim of this project is to further enhance and improve the vocational training and development of students at the NHC Sports Academy. By maintaining and strengthening the existing partnership links with Sportilia in Italy, the project will also aim to provide greater exit and progression opportunities for students upon completion of the Academy programme. The project will have 3 overarching strategic objectives: 1) Facilitating the transfer of European training methods, development environments, techniques and philosophies into both the NHC Sports Academy programme and students. 2) Exposing the students to the European opportunities in both sport and other careers so these can be explored and more readily understood, accepted and pursued in the future. 3) Embedding Lifelong Learning Principles into the training and development programme and working cultures in order to equip students with the aptitude and skills to pursue employment, either within sport or outside of it, throughout their career. NUMBER AND PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS There are currently 956 Sports Academy students at the college across 7 main sports (men’s football, women’s football, men’s rugby, netball, tennis, basketball and athletics). Approximately 75% are male, 25% are female and 15% are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups. Participants will be selected from the circa 60 football students that will form part of the NHC Sports Academy programme in the 2015/2016 academic year. PROJECT ACTIVITIES The majority of the work placement activities will take place at the Sportilia facility, including: - Regular training sessions to address the defined sports performance targets. - Games versus high quality Italian youth teams. - Daily feedback and evaluation sessions to confirm goal setting/reflection. Sportilia has outstanding links at a local, regional and national level which will enable NHC to enhance the work placement activities of participants. For example: - Access to Bologna FC and Rimini FC with activities to include training sessions and games at their world class training facilities. - A visit to the Italian National Football Technical Centre in Florence. - Observation of a live Serie A or Serie B fixture. METHODOLGY NHC will use the principles of the European Quality Charter for Mobility to set goals and define tasks for the key elements of the project: 1) INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE: production of clear and accessible resources. 2) LEARNING PLAN: clearly defining the project objectives and the role of each partner in achieving them. 3) PERSONALISATION: pre-visit assessment of participants' desired learning outcomes. 4) PREPARATION: a structured preparation programme tailored to individual needs. 5) LANGUAGE: provision of formal and informal language training. 6) LOGISTICS: a formal contract to be signed by both parties outlining practical and logistical responsibilities. 7) MENTORING: provision of suitably qualified staff to facilitate achievement of individual goals and ensure integration. 8) RECOGNITION: delivery of formal instruments to recognise individual learning outcomes. 9) EVALUATION: comprehensive and objective evaluation of all aspects of the project. 10) RESPONSIBILITIES: agreement by all parties on their roles and responsibilities in the successful delivery of the project, formalised in writing via a Memorandum of Understanding and individual participant Learning Plans. IMPACTS The impacts on participants are expected to include: - Achievement of recognised qualifications (e.g. BTEC L1 Work Skills). - Development of life skills and experience that can be utilised throughout participants' education and careers. - Enhanced cultural and linguistic skills, facilitating openness to new opportunities both in the UK and Europe. - Improved knowledge and understanding of the European opportunities in sport and other careers. The impacts on NHC are expected to include: - Enhancement of the Sports Academy programme both in terms of improved technical sporting quality of students and coaches, and also student achievement rates. - Implementation of best practice across the Sports Academy programme and also the wider college. - Improved exit and progression opportunities for students, both within sport and outside of it, and in the UK and Europe.

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