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Sporty schoolchildren experience University with help from student coaches

Sports Dev Portfield

SCHOOLCHILDREN from a West Sussex academy have visited the University of Chichester to experience an afternoon of sports activities organised by its student coaches.

Phil Crisp, Programme coordinator for Sport Development and Coaching, has been running such events on the University site with different community groups for a number of years. He feels there are two significant benefits with these: “One is from the student perspective. What we want to do is to make sure the students are having an enriched experience where they can get lots of different people to actually work with and coach.”

The event with Portfield Primary Academy is part of a series of events organised to give students learning about coaching and sport development a range of relevant experiences that have their future careers in mind.

“As far as employability goes, if we look at where our student coaches go many of them end up working in education, or working with young people. So there's a big opportunity here for the students to do something and have it on their CVs,” Mr Crisp added.

“The other benefit I'm interested in and try to enthuse students about is that it fits in with the University's philosophy of widening participation. I think this is something this University has always done. It's always tried to engage with the community.”

He added: “I like the idea of a university being open to all and opening people's eyes to the possibility of university education. Making young people feel comfortable at a university. Every university should be doing something like this.”

Alison Davis coordinates work placements for the University's Institute of Sport and is responsible for the Festival of Sport in the summer where 800 young people from schools throughout the south of England participate in different sports such as trampolining, handball and orienteering; learn about exercise and its effects on the body in various strength and stamina tests; and find out what courses are on offer at the university. She said: “We've got a really good working relationship with Portfield for student placements at the school that goes back some time. It's fantastic that students can get an experience working in a school rather than just working with clubs and we know work placements help our students get jobs.”

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It was a return to the university where he studied for Deputy Headteacher Tom Rayment. He graduated from Chichester eleven years ago. And he isn't the only former University of Chichester student working at Portfield: “Our sports development officer Jamie Honywood studied at Chichester. He's liased with the school and the university for several years and together we've gradually built that relationship. This year I think we've got approximately 20 students from the University of Chichester coming in supporting PE lessons.

“Paris Clarke was a student at the university a couple of years ago. Now she's a teaching assistant and a sports coach at our school. So it's brilliant to have this relationship. It's perfect and it works for both parties. The students get a good experience in a real life setting and we get their expertise and knowledge of what good sports coaching is all about.”

The deputy explained that another reason the relationship between the school and the university works so well is to do with the value Portfield places on aspiration as a core value of the school. He said: “Not many of our children in the past have ended up going to university. So it's great to have this kind of opportunity to come and see the university. It's fantastic to see all the facilities and for the children to work with the students, to see what they could aim for. That's the key thing for us, along with the sport side of it and the fitness element.”

Jamel McFarlane, a second year Sport Development & Coaching student, really enjoyed working with the children. He said, “This event really benefits me because I want to be a teacher, I want to be a coach in the future so it's good for me to get such a hands-on experience.”

The experience clearly went down well with all the participants from Portfield. One of the children said: “The whole afternoon was great. It was really fun to be taught by the university students. The games they taught us were amazing.” And another added: “The university is so big! I want to go there when I'm older.” 

For more about the BA (Hons) Sport Development and Coaching degree at the University of Chichester go to