Tom @ Brookside Academy0Tom Ball, Sports Apprentice, Brookside Academy
After completing a level 3 BTEC in sport at Strode College, Somerset, Tom Ball, 19, was all set to go to Yeovil University to embark on a four-year degree in the subject. Instead, a chance text from a college tutor drove Tom towards using his passion for sport to start a career in coaching through an Advanced Teaching and Learning Apprenticeship at Brookside Academy, Somerset.
Taking a chance
With plans to carry on his education and do a degree in sport, it wasn't until his tutor at Strode College told him about places at a local primary school, Brookside Academy, for sports apprentices, that Tom decided to re-evaluate his future plans. Until then Tom hadn't considered the apprenticeship route or been aware an apprenticeship existed for a sports teaching role. Deciding to delay university to pursue the opportunity, Tom started his advanced apprenticeship at Brookside in August 2016.
Tom says: "I knew I wanted to carry on after college doing something sports-related. If I hadn't received a text from my tutor I would never have found out about apprenticeships and would have spent another four years going down the university route before starting a career."
Most days will see Tom in the sports hall, on the playground, courts or pitches, helping to set up activities and coach small groups of children for school PE lessons. He also helps run the after school and holiday clubs, all whilst studying for his apprenitceship one day a week at Strode College. The best thing for Tom is seeing the children gain in confidence and develop new skills. Having initially been nervous himself about working with young children, he's learnt a lot, in particular how to teach children who have specialist needs or disabilities.
A strong support system
Brookside Academy employs 13 apprentices across the school and provides a strong support system for their apprentices - being the only school to be honoured in the Centrica Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer list.
Brian Walton, Headteacher at Brookside, says: "As a large primary school we can provide a diverse range of experiences for young people who want to get a meaningful and supported start to their career. We benefit greatly from the positive attitude, skills and willingness to learn apprentices bring to the school and, as a result, we've been able to offer more services for families. For example we can now offer school holiday activities for children a with disabilities."
Brian continues: "All our apprentices have become significant and fully integrated members of the workforce with the same expectations of professionalism and responsibilities from the outset - they represent the school from day one. I firmly believe that schools are a great place to start a career through an apprenticeship."
Tom started his apprenticeship in August 2016 with the expectation of carrying on for just a year before going to university. Now Tom is considering staying on longer in his apprenticeship role in order to continue to work with the children in the school and at the holiday clubs.
Tom says: "If you have a particular area you want to work in I would definitely say consider an apprenticeship. I only found out about this place by chance but it's been the best thing for me. I was all set on university but I'm enjoying working in school more than I thought I would and I'm getting paid. I was accepted from day one as part of the teaching team and I'm gaining qualifications along the way."
Tom concludes: "I knew I wanted a career in sports and coaching and doing an apprenticeship feels like a great start. I really hope I'm still doing this as a full-time job in five years' time."
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