UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park’s student athletes get set to benefit from innovative scheme

Talented student athletes attending UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park are set to benefit from a national scholarship scheme.

The University Technical College, on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, has earned Dual Career Accreditation status with the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

The Sport England-backed programme supports student athletes to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sport.

It provides young sports people on the talent pathway with the opportunity to gain qualifications alongside their sporting pursuits, follow other interests and further their personal development.

The UTC, which recruits 13 to 19-year-olds from across Sheffield City Region, is a top destination for young talented athletes including footballers, ice skaters and swimmers, as one of its three technical specialism subjects is sport science.

Jess Stevenson, Principal, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, said: “We are really proud to play our part in bringing the best out of Sheffield’s exciting young talent in sport. Due to our sport specialism, we attract talented athletes from a range of different disciplines.”

She added: “Achieving TASS Dual Career Accreditation will enable our student athletes to access other experts and services, and reflects our wider aim to equip our young people with the qualifications and skills they need to succeed in their education and future careers.”

Student Barnaby Howarth-Osborne, 17, has been supported by the UTC to pursue his studies and compete at the highest levels in his chosen sport – swimming.

Barnaby said: “The UTC go above and beyond to support students in their passions and interests, not just their schoolwork. The UTC has allowed me to use their gym in my own time to train and even sourced me a rowing machine for home. The UTC has fantastic facilities available for sport students, including a big Astroturf outside and a fitness suite. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in learning more about sport. If you want a future in sport, the UTC is the place to be.”

He explained: “I’m a swimmer, which is incredibly demanding yet rewarding. When I was younger, I got scouted by the Sheffield City Club to take part in high level competitions. I entered several swimming events and won all of them, which made me proud and determined to continue. After this, I went on to win the Yorkshire and North-East regional Championships. In 2019, I successfully received two gold medals at the Swimming England National Championships.”

As a result of achieving accreditation as a Dual Career Accredited Site, the UTC will join a network of educational institutions, including universities, that deliver core support services to more than 600 student-athletes each year. These include physiotherapy, nutrition, lifestyle support, psychology, strength and conditioning and a private medical scheme.

While some of the existing services focus solely on developing the young person’s sporting performance, a dual career support structure and academic flexibility policies are central to the support offered to athletes at an accredited site.

All Dual Career Accredited Sites receive training and a toolkit of resources to equip them with practical dual career support and to bring together all parties who work with the athlete.

For student athletes, the academic flexibility policies may mean they have the opportunity to access online notes or resources, are able to arrange catch up sessions with teaching staff, or even reschedule deadlines or exam dates in exceptional circumstances.

Guy Taylor, TASS National Director, said: “We’re delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to colleges and universities across England. Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that’s why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education too.”

He added: “We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the Accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution. Congratulations to the successful institutions and we look forward to working alongside many more outstanding colleges and universities in the near future.”

Referenced within the education section of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care in Sport Review published in April 2017, accreditation shows that an education institution has the ability to support students following a dual career route.

Backing the scheme, she said: “I believe we have a duty to help young people to achieve their potential, whilst prioritising their welfare, wellbeing and education. For the vast majority of athletes, skills and formal qualifications are needed to help them find alternative careers, either alongside their sporting activities or once their sporting days are over. For me the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is a vitally important measure to ensuring all athletes have the chance to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded approach to life.”

At UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, which is Ofsted graded ‘good’, students complete GCSEs and A Levels as well as technical qualifications in computing, health sciences or sport science, and work on employer-led projects to develop skills related to their subject specialism.

UTCs are government funded technical schools that provide academic and technical qualifications to match the skills needs of regional employers, supporting economic growth and employment.

Young people can join UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in Year 9 or Year 12 for September 2021. Apply now at https://www.utcsheffield.org.uk/olp/. Follow @UTCSheffieldOLP on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.