Exeter College student gear up for 2012 Olympics

AS Britain gears up to host the 2012 Olympic Games, hundreds of talented youngsters are preparing for the event – including Exeter students who are the first in the region to study for a new sports qualification.

The teenagers are able to get a head start while still at school thanks to the Young Apprentice scheme. During the two-year course, they have to undergo work experience, residential trips and teach city youngsters as well as completing exams.

St Luke’s Science and Sports College, working with Exeter College, is the only establishment in the South West to offer the sports course, which will be extended to other city secondary schools next year. The aim is to inspire them to further education on leaving school.

The 37 Year 10 pupils, who began studying for the apprenticeship in September, will also train as first-aiders and run schemes in the community. And they will get experience of specialised sports careers such as physiotherapy. All those on the course signed up because they want to work in sports and teachers believe it will prepare them for the evolving fitness industry. Becky Clark, Exeter School Sports Partnership development manager, said: “PE has changed. Teachers are now highly-skilled professionals. The perception that lessons are just running around playing games is completely wrong. “At St Luke’s, all students leave school with a sports qualification and this is a way of extending that. Most pupils will work with our partner primary schools, but if they express an interest in other careers we can arrange for them to spend time with those professionals.” TEENAGERS at the school are able to train as sports leaders, which means they learn how to teach by working with teachers in local primary schools.

The apprenticeship allows them to also study for their Btec and NVQ exams as well as a range of other qualifications, for example in sports coaching. They will study at school, and at Exeter College’s Sports Academy. The apprenticeship is equivalent to five A* to C GCSEs and the teenagers also do three traditional GCSEs in maths, English and science in school. Talented rugby and football player Ryan Priscott signed up because he hopes to be a PE teacher. The 14-year-old says the course has also helped him do well in his other subjects. “The best bit is the practical sessions,” he said. “At the moment we are really working on our fitness by doing bleep tests but we have also had to do assignments – one of which was setting our individual targets. I’m working really hard and enjoying it so far.” Zoe Gill, 14, plays netball and also hopes to be a secondary school PE teacher. “We have been on a residential trip already, where we worked on team challenges such as assault courses and learnt about health and safety,” she said.

Exeter College lecturer Tim Holbrook, who will teach the students, said the search for Olympic hopefuls and those to help in the games was on. “The skills these students are learning now will really stand them in good stead in the industry,” Mr Holbook said. Sammy White, who runs Exeter College’s programmes for 14- to 16-year-olds, said: “The aim of this scheme is to keep children in education. It’s a good transition between school and college.”