Policy and Projects Officer Matt Rhodes blogs about the sport sector and the Skills Plan

At last week’s Sport in the Curriculum Conference there was lots of discussion around the Post-16 skills plan and the future of sport departments in colleges. AoC Sport Policy and Projects Officer Matt Rhodes has written a blog about this with a call to action for colleges to respond to the current Occupational maps consultation.


The intentions of the Post-16 skills plan and subsequent occupational maps are widely supported. Students, employers and providers currently face a confusing raft of qualifications and pathways to employment and further study. A model that provides clarity and parity for technical education is welcomed, however, the occupational maps published by the Institute of Apprenticeships (soon to be the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education) present some stark issues for sport and physical activity in colleges.

Many of you will know that sport and physical activity is not acknowledged as one of the identified 15 routes and whilst our sector has not been overlooked entirely, occupations currently sit across three of these routes. Curiously, leisure recreation assistant sits in sales, marketing and procurement, whilst leisure duty manager is assigned to business and administration, and finally leisure team member is in health and science. I’m unsure how that provides the desired clarity behind the skills plan. It’s concerning to see that the occupations within the exercise, fitness and health cluster are apprentice only. Those of you involved with sport apprentices will know the challenge faced in finding employers for a 16-year-old apprentice, particularly when many of those who work in this area are self-employed.

Our sector needs a technical education pathway to bring parity with the academic option and to align with the work CIMSPA have been doing to professionalise the industry. This will help ensure we are developing young people with the skills required by employers.

As it stands, there is not a T Level for our sector and with a review of Applied General qualifications looming, the landscape for college-based sport and physical activity qualifications is unclear. Whether you agree with T Levels or not, they are going to happen. The Occupational maps consultation closes on 8 February. Now is not the time to sit back and let someone else deal with the issue. As a sector, we need to make sure our voice is heard. We’ve prepared a model response to the consultation – you can view it here . I urge all colleges to take the time to submit your own response but be quick – the deadline is looming.