Sheffield Hallam University has been awarded Professional Recognition from Active IQ for its innovative sports internship training and assessment provision. This accolade gives an industry ‘seal of approval’ of the ambitious student internship programme that is delivered and assessed by Sheffield Hallam University tutors.
“We are proud of our four-year pathway for students which includes training and assessment from the introductory Level 2 right up to Level 4 for those students who wish to progress to an advanced level,” says Andrew Langford, Lead Strength & Conditioning coach for Team Hallam at Sheffield Hallam University. “Our focus is on Strength & Conditioning training which is a growing area of interest for students and complementary to their studies, even if they don’t aspire to being trainers when they leave university,” he says. “Active IQ has a long-standing reputation as a leading awarding organisation and its recent release of a Level 4 Strength & Conditioning qualification gave us great confidence in them as a partner.”
Sheffield Hallam University offers all its S&C Interns the chance to embed the Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification into their first-year course. Students have included top-level Team GB/Olympic contenders right down to Netball 5th team social athletes. In a typical year, Andrew and his team will deliver 25,000 sessions of physical activity training across all year groups. This delivery is shared between Team Hallam S&C coaches with graduate and undergraduate interns offering vital support. In return the interns receive expert mentorship and tuition from the Lead Coaches as well as Academic tutors. This is doubly effective as the interns gain valuable skills in leadership and tutoring while the students respond well to being taught by their peer group.
Those students who gain their Level 2 by the end of their first year often seek work in gyms and clubs during the summer break to supplement their income and build their skills. Some are happy to stay at this level while many others return in Year 2 to study Level 3 Sports Conditioning and then on to Level 4 Strength & Conditioning in Year 3.
“We provide a really strong pathway from Year 1 to Year 4 and have worked hard to embed the Active IQ training alongside the academic and coaching curriculum,” says Andrew. “Those students who take the full opportunity can find themselves leaving university fully qualified to work as a strength and conditioning coach with four years’ experience to their name. It’s a very valuable proposition for them. Meanwhile, our interns are gaining vital teaching experience which they too can take into the world of work.”
Sheffield Hallam University offers monthly work training workshops to its interns and invites coaches and outside speakers into the university. It also organises placements at US sports universities – renowned to be among the best in the world – giving students excellent opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills abroad.
“The Active IQ Professional Recognition gives us national standing and a professional seal of approval,” says Andrew. “Our Professional Recognition status demonstrates the significant training and assessment we offer: we’ve known for years the value of our student programmes and internships but now participants have a nationally recognised accreditation and certificate from Active IQ to show for their efforts and achievements.”
As an Active IQ accredited training and assessment centre, Sheffield Hallam University has gained maximum scope and flexibility in its delivery and assessment of programmes. Andrew and his colleague Dave Rogerson, from the Academy of Sport & Exercise Science, were already qualified to deliver the training to the students but welcomed the chance to attend some Active IQ CPD top-up training to gain skills and accreditation as assessors – a key part of meeting the Active IQ Professional Recognition criteria.
Andrew’s ambition is that every Sports Science Student will take advantage of the Active IQ L2 Gym Instructor/Fitness Instructor qualification training which is embedded into their S&C Internship. Currently 42 students are enrolled on the intern programme with 32 in the first year, eight in the second year and two working as graduate interns in a paid role. The idea is that as the student cohort progresses year on year, the number taking the Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications will grow organically.
“Active IQ qualifications have a stamp of authority, they show proof of training and capability and will stand up as vocational skills in the workplace,” says Andrew. “The content of their courses is complementary to our Sports Exercise Science degrees and in today’s world, I consider it a huge added value for university students to gain vocational qualifications before they leave us.”