By Lawrence Saunders
Liverpool School Sport Partnership (LSSP) is a not-for-profit organisation which provides a range of sports-related services to schools including competitions, training for staff and expert coaching.
Educate Magazine spoke to the LSSP’s lead on its new apprenticeship scheme which is giving young people interested in sport the chance to make a difference in communities across Liverpool.
It might have started small, just three schools and three apprentices were involved last year, but the LSSP’s apprenticeship scheme has already made a big impact – especially on one young person.
“We took on one lad last year, who, when we interviewed him, couldn’t even look us in the eye – he was so shy,” explains Vicky Marshall, partnership manager and lead on the apprenticeship scheme at LSSP.
“A year later he’s standing up in front of a class talking to headteachers.”
A remarkable transformation such as this is the result of a programme which sees apprentices assist with the delivery of physical education and sport in a school four days a week and train at LSSP HQ for one.
From setting up equipment for lessons and helping out at playtime to supervising warm-ups and leading activities, apprentices are those much-needed extra pair of hands.
Now into its second year, the scheme has 10 young people on board and is making a difference in primary and secondary schools throughout Liverpool.
“We see the schools regularly at events and they always say how brilliant our apprentices are,” adds Vicky.
“We’ve been really impressed with the quality of the youngsters coming through.
“They are treated like an employee – as soon as they come to that first training session with us it’s very much: “You are here not just to represent LSSP but also your school. You’re not a student anymore and we’re not going to babysit you.”
Vicky says young people these days are not keen on committing the large amounts of money required to continue onto higher education if they are not sure what they want to do.
The one-year contract with LSSP gives those with an interest in education or working with children the chance to find out more and decide whether it’s the right career path for them.
“When a lot of the apprentices come to us to explore what we were offering, a number are undecided as to whether to go to further education to do extra qualifications.
“This apprenticeship scheme just gives them that something extra and that experience which makes them stand out if they do decide they want to go to university later.”
Given it only started last year and involved just three apprentices, it’s too early to say what the long-term benefits of the programme may be, but the trio from year one have all stayed on for another 12 months.
“The reason we do this is because we want to give young people from Liverpool an opportunity and a helping hand,” adds Vicky.
“In the future we are looking at things like teaching assistants so if apprentices don’t want to go to university but they want to stay in education there is another pathway for them.
“That’s what we are trying to do – give these kids an opportunity to work locally and get the necessary experience and qualifications they need.”