Back in 2016 we featured John Curd in one of our ‘student stories’. John has a truly inspirational story and shows how studying with the OU can really turn your life around. John has now completed his BSc (hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching and recently attended his graduation ceremony. As you can see from the photographs he had a great day. As one of our older graduates John is proof that’s it’s never to late to achieve your dreams. We are very proud John and all of our sport and fitness graduates. If you have recently graduated and would like to share your graduation photos and/or tell us what your graduation day was like please contact us at WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk
To read part 1 of John’s student story click here.
We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing teaching activities and engaging in research/scholarship that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will have good knowledge of a range of sport and exercise related topics and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop high quality distance learning materials for students and for wider public engagement.
You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport and Fitness education based on our expertise in distance education, and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum developments (e.g. new modules, Masters degree, higher/degree level Apprenticeship).
You must have a higher degree or equivalent professional knowledge in Sport and Fitness or a related field and a good understanding of approaches to studying this topic. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly and cogently for a diverse student audience and have some experience of teaching in higher education.
** Registration for the conference is now closed, but we are hoping to provide a live stream of keynote speakers for OU staff and students on the day here and we will share some videos from the conference on this blog after the event **
If you have already registered for the conference, don’t forget to make your payment!
In October 2017 Open University Sport and Fitness academics Dr Ben Langdown and Dr Natalie Darko took part in a Student Hub Live event examining the importance of nutrition and sleep to your studies. If you missed it you can catch up below.
On Wednesday 21st March 2018 the Open University Sport and Fitness Team will be hosting their 3rd annual conference. This year’s conference will be exploring the contemporary issue of mental health in sport.
While top level athletes are often idolised and portrayed as figures of supreme physical and mental strength, more and more are speaking out about the mental health challenges they have faced. This conference seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues in sport and explore contemporary research in the field and strategies to support athletes.
Olympic Gold Medallist (hockey) Helen Richardson-Walsh
Kitrina Douglas and David Carless (Leeds Beckett University)
Richard Bryan (Rugby Players’ Association)
Jessie Barr (University of Limerick)
Click here to view the conference booklet and programme
** Registration for the conference is now closed, but we are hoping to provide a live stream of keynote speakers for OU staff and students on the day here and we will share some videos from the conference on this blog after the event **
To register for the conference please complete the online registration form on the link below. Details on how to pay for the conference can be found here.
Early bird = £100 (available up to Friday 12th January 2018)
Student = £50
OU Student = £20
(fee includes lunch and refreshments)
Oral and poster presentations
Academics, researchers, students and professionals are invited to submit abstracts for oral or poster presentations that relate to mental health in sport. We are particularly interested in submissions that relate to the negative impact of sport on mental health, rather than those that focus on sport and exercise as a strategy to improve mental health.
Please submit your abstract (maximum of 250 words) on the form below to: WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk
On Tuesday 26th September 2017, as part of our induction for sport and fitness students studying at the Open University, we held a live induction event through our Student Hub Live platform. If you missed the session you can watch the full video here on the link below or you can watch the individual videos of each session below.
Session 1: Sport and Fitness Qualification Overview (Caroline Heaney and Ben Oakley)
Session 2: Sport and Fitness Blog and Social Media (Helen Owton and Karen Howells)
Session 3: The Role of the Tutor (Helen Owton and Ola Fadoju)
Session 4: E117 App Demonstration (Ben Langdown and Caroline Heaney)
Session 5: The Student Journey (Jess Pinchbeck and Caroline Heaney)
On Tuesday 26th September 2017 (1-3pm), as part of our induction programme, we will be hosting a Student Hub Live session for OU Sport and Fitness students. For part of the session we are looking for a level 3 sport and fitness student to share their experience of studying sport and fitness at the OU so far.
The session would involve you being interviewed, alongside a sport and fitness lecturer, about how you have found each of the modules you have studied so far and any tips or advice you have for other students. The session will last for 30 minutes and will be live streamed through our Student Hub Live platform.
You can find out more about Student Hub Live here. Also, to get a feel for what the Student Hub Live sessions are like, you can watch the videos on the pages below:
If you are interested in appearing in the Sport and Fitness Student Hub Live session on 26th September 2017 please email WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk stating what module(s) you are currently registered on, what modules you have already studied and why you would like to be involved. The successful student will be required to be in Milton Keynes on the afternoon of Tuesday 26th September and will be reimbursed with their travel expenses and a £30 Amazon voucher.
Priority will be given to level 3 students, however, consideration will be given to level 2 students who have completed at least 60 credits. Priority will also be given to those studying sport and fitness qualifications.
From the age of 16 Amanda Halifax dreamt of becoming a PE teacher, however, instead of being able to pursue her dreams after school, she had to go out to work. Taking on any jobs just so that she could pay her bills, at one point Amanda found herself having to work 3 jobs as she needed the money. The day that Amanda dropped off her youngest child at university she decided that she was going to follow in her children’s footsteps and get a degree too. Although at first she was convinced she wouldn’t be able to do the study or cope with the technology, Amanda found a love for the study and completed in 2014. Amanda has now achieved the dream that she had from the age of 16 and is working in a school and teaching sport.
“I didn’t do very much at school. I got a few GCEs and I was going to be a teacher, but my mother wouldn’t let me go away to study further because then you had to work didn’t you. I used to dream about teaching and I got a place actually but then I couldn’t go. It was just really sad because it was my dream.
I then went on to do all sorts of jobs really, sometimes working 3 jobs and I struggled to get all my children through university. I dedicated my life to my children and I didn’t really look at doing any study myself until my youngest son went off to university. I’d always wanted to do the same and I think it was really that day that I came back home into my empty house that I thought ‘I want to go to university’. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go away though because I had a house to look after and my jobs, but I also didn’t know if I could afford it.
Over the years I’d always had a little look at The Open University, but I never thought that I could do it. I thought it would cost me far too much and that you’d have to have lots of A Levels or qualifications. When I dropped off my youngest son and came home that day I had a look at all kinds of universities. I punched in ‘Open University’ and I looked at all the courses that the OU offers and as I went through them I thought it would definitely be something I could do, so I did!
When I was 16 I wanted to be a food technology teacher but I also wanted to be a PE teacher because I absolutely loved sport. I came from a little town where there wasn’t anything there apart from tennis courts, so virtually all I did was sport. Working in sport as a PE teacher was something that I did actually dream about but I thought it would never happen.
The tutors were amazing and they were there for me the whole way through. You can contact them by email if you have any problems at all and they get back to you so quickly. I had quite a lot of stresses and setbacks throughout my studies including very ill health and a car accident. At one point I didn’t know if I was going to be there to see the end of my studies and it was horrendous really, but the whole way through The Open University tutors and staff were there for me and they would phone me up. They weresuch supportive and caring people.
I didn’t think I could do it from the first day, but within a couple of weeks of actually looking at the books and just working through the weekly planner I found it easier. The weekly planner tells you what you have to read on each week, so I just tried to keep up with that and by the time I got to week 6 I was in the flow of it and I thought ‘I’m going to do this’.
I really quite enjoyed the sports psychology module because now that I work in a school and help with the PE students it helps me to guide them through their study and aids me with giving them confidence. I’m able to show them that they can do it as well.
One of the other good benefits about the course that I did was that I had to become a level 2 fitness instructor and again I’ve always really wanted to do that, but I didn’t think I could do that either. It was great and the fact that I passed that as well was fantastic! It also gave me other job possibilities too as it meant I could now work in a gym and so that also helped to increase my confidence.
I could never use computers and I have to say that was my big fear at the start. When I first started and everything had to be done online, that was the thing that actually frightened me because I was absolutely rubbish at it. But you get a step-by-step guide so I was able to take my time and to go through that. The whole way through there was somebody there helping me and then eventually all those big problems, that I thought were big problems, were no problems because I was flying through.
I found the online tutorials fantastic because if you had to work and missed it then you could pick it up later. I found it so, so helpful because all the time that I was actually doing my TMA I was actually having a look at the tutorial as well. I didn’t only play that back once either! I used to love to tune in too because you got to talk to other students who were in the same boat as you and sometimes you’d be talking to them afterwards too, so you made friends and felt part of a kind of team. Even though you didn’t actually get to meet those people in person they were there every month and so you just became quite close to them.
I didn’t really plan my study time every day because various things would change and happen in life. When I was doing my first course I had about two or three jobs, so I just used to sit down at weekends. I did used to take the books to bed with me at nighttime to read them too. I didn’t find it too much of a problem though because I really enjoyed it. I was also able to start applying what I was learning directly into my work in the school.
The biggest benefit of OU study to me was that it built in around my job and it built in around my home life. I think distance learning suits a lot of people because you don’t have to actually move away, you don’t have to leave your family and friends and you can actually just carry on with normal life and achieve.
I was determined I wanted a BSc (Hons) Sports degree – I wanted that so much and it’s just changed my life. I’m not stopping now; I’m certainly not packing up teaching because I’ve finally got there and I love it. I feel fit, I feel healthy and I get to play sport. I also have a team of kids from the school in the English Squash championships and they’re doing really well. I would say to anyone not to think about it too much, just sign up for it and just do it, because you can! You’re never too old! If you have a dream then go for it.
It’s changed my confidence, it’s changed my life and I feel like a different person. I’ve grown and I never thought I could do that. I honestly did not think I could achieve my dream in life. I’ve not only got a degree now I’ve got the fitness qualification as well and I have to say my computer skills are so much better, which is amazing.
I’ve had lots of jobs which I haven’t really wanted to do, but I’ve done them because I’ve had to get the money and I’m now in a job that I’m doing because I love the job, not because of the money. I’m being paid for a job that I love – it’s amazing. The biggest thing for me is that I’m now actually teaching and following the dream that I’ve carried with me since I was 16.”
If you have been inspired by Amanda’s story and would like to study sport and fitness at the Open University, please visit our ‘Study with us’ page.
Patrick (Ricky) Skene took up ice hockey whilst he was at school and after his GCSEs went to a college that would allow him to continue to play ice hockey on the side. Patrick decided to go to university to study Sports Psychology, but after realising that he wasn’t going to be accredited as a Sports Psychologist through the course he decided to leave and focus on a professional career as an ice hockey player. Whilst enjoying a successful ice hockey career, Patrick started up a strength and conditioning business on the side. Once he had retired from professional ice hockey, Patrick decided to make his business his full focus, but after being told that he should consider teaching by some clients he began to investigate that as a career option. Fast forward to 2017 and Patrick is in his second year of his full time OU degree, working full time as a games teacher in an independent school and working hard to achieve his goal.
“I was born in Chicago where my older brother took up one of the national sports of ice hockey. We stayed there for about 5 years and then moved over to the UK. That’s when I picked up ice hockey and just followed my brother’s footsteps – he was always an inspiration to me. Whilst I was doing my GCSEs I was also being taken out of school to pursue ice hockey as it was a minority sport here and still is. After my GCSEs I immediately went to college at Nescott as that allowed me to continue to play ice hockey. After college I began a degree in sports psychology, however, during one of the first year lectures we discovered that we wouldn’t be accredited as sports psychologists at the end. I didn’t really want to carry on with another two and a half years of student debt, so I stopped that. I had to make a choice at that point whether to pursue my career as an ice hockey player or to keep focus on my educational interests, and I decided to go down the professional ice hockey route.
At the same time that I was playing ice hockey I also completed some vocational courses. I took premier training for a PTI diploma in advanced personal training and surrounding that I also did CrossFit because it was just coming over to the UK. I completed my CrossFit level 1 and 2 instructor’s award and then my CrossFit gymnastics award on the side. I started to realise that I quite liked doing little vocational courses, gaining CPD points and dipping into different things that I liked, but these little courses didn’t carry any qualifications and were just more out of interest.
As I was playing ice hockey at a professional level I had to start to tailor them down a little bit and concentrate on that. My career took me from the Slough Jets to the Guildford Flames and I played 9 years for them. That was really where I made a mark as an ice hockey player; I enjoyed a lot of success, won some trophies and towards the end of my career I started to think about what I was going to do afterwards. I was always quite a fit player, I liked to take my strength and conditioning very seriously and I had been training a lot of my team mates, so I figured why not put the two together. My Premier Training diploma gave me my first CPD points and with my REP level 3 I created my own personal training and strength and conditioning business. When it first started I was taking junior athletes from amateur right the way through and showing them what was required to become professional. I ended up having my professional ice hockey career and a strength and conditioning business on the side until finally I decided to retire from ice hockey to focus on the coaching of not only athletes, but also the general public. I liked it, but realised that if I had a sick day then I didn’t get paid and if I went on holiday then it was costing me money. Some of the people that I was training encouraged me to think about teaching as a career because they said I’d be very good at it.
I looked into the possibility of teaching but found that my diplomas weren’t quite enough to go straight into teaching. I’d heard about The Open University and had seen some advertisement for it so decided to enquire about courses and through that found the BSc Sports, Fitness and Coaching degree. I enrolled with The Open University and started the first year with the strength and conditioning business on the side. I was then pulled out of ice hockey retirement by a coach friend of mine who needed some injury cover, so I came out and played for Telford Tigers for the final time. I enjoyed some more success and retired winning the cup and the league for a final time. It seemed like the perfect time to completely retire and devote everything into this degree and teaching.
I funded the first year myself by paying upfront and then intended to pay for the second year in the same way, but through speaking to the bursar at the current school that I’m at and speaking with the headmaster, they were able to provide me with financial assistance. My study was like inset training because it was enhancing my performance as a games teacher on the job, so they are supporting my funds for the second year. Even though I’m receiving financial support I knew there were options available if I didn’t – I knew I could pay for it in instalments or defer for a while.
I picked the sports, fitness and coaching degree because I do have a background in that industry, so I felt being away from study for so long I wouldn’t be coming in cold and completely out of my element. I chose The Open University over a standard university because it allows me to continue to work and, rather than approaching a school in three years’ time, or even longer if I’d done it part time, I can be on the job now gaining experience whilst studying and applying theory to practice. Also, when I do finish I’m then three years ahead of the curve.
Obviously gaining the theoretical knowledge for the course is fantastic, but being able to manage your time more effectively is huge as a teacher because we do work long hours, we do have high demands on our time and there’s always 101 things going on, so that’s one of the life skills that I think the OU teaches you. It works well for me because we’re given a timetable which I can follow and it’s very manageable. The work is split into small bitesize chunks for each week so you’re not just looking at the book and having to read the entire thing. For me it was just small goals and small manageable steps that I could just apply directly into my job as a teacher.
The tutors at The Open University have been fantastic. I’ve had many different jobs leading up to where I am now as a teacher and with that things change, there’s lots of variables and deadlines sometimes can creep up on you even if you are following a timetable, so being able to email the tutors directly was great. I didn’t have any instances where they questioned it, they said ‘what do you need to be able to produce the work and how can we help’ and that’s exactly what they did in those cases. They would give me a week’s extension, which would be a perfect amount of time to do it, or they would direct me to a resource or an online source of material that would help me get back on track if I was finding something difficult.
Probably the biggest highlight is seeing your hard work pay off! At the beginning of the year my grades weren’t quite as I expected, so to see those grades steadily improve as the year went on wasn’t an instant highlight, but it was the long game. Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments and having my scores reflecting that made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.
My favourite topic so far is definitely E233 Sport and Fitness Psychology – a case study approach, which I’m studying now. I’ve done so much of the physical side of sport and fitness development but hadn’t really dealt with the psyche and psychological side of it and so I found that really interesting. It’s also helped not just with myself, if I’ve been getting stressed or anxious, but being inside a school and as a teacher it’s been immense because it’s allowed me to apply all of that theory into practice and actually see it work or see if I need to understand it more. I think each of my lessons are getting better and my growth is being shown now from that one module.
One of the perks about choosing the Sports, Fitness and Coaching degree through The Open University is discovering that you got CPD points for it because as a teacher I knew that you had to continually get these CPD points. It helps with your CV, it helps you move up the chain and it helps you to offer different areas of expertise to the students. At Danes Hill we try to offer the kids everything they could possibly think of, so keeping my CPD points going along with the various modules that the course is offering me was great. It was a huge bonus to realise that although I’m away from doing the little vocational or extracurricular courses that I was doing and focusing on three years in one direction, I’m still keeping my CPD points going.
My main reason for choosing The Open University was because of the distance learning type of study. It allowed me to continue to work so that I could fund other interests and hobbies and I’ve been able to go on and buy a house. Being able to study remotely has been fantastic! For me I think actually the online tutorials have helped because I learn better as I’m almost plugged in, so I’m not distracted by other people in the classroom, It’s just me and a computer screen in an area. When I’m at home I’ve got a desk area, so everything there is what I need to study, if I’m at school then we’ve got work rooms and if I’m on the go completely remotely I’ve got my iPad, so there’s no way that I’m stopped from learning. I think you get all the benefits without the distraction.
I use the study planner pretty rigorously; I make sure that I stick to it and I don’t try to read too far ahead just in case I’m reading stuff that I might not need or isn’t 100% necessary for that next assignment, because time management is the biggest thing with The Open University. I commute an hour to an hour and a half each day using the train so I do a lot of my study planner reading for each study. I try and do one module’s reading in the first half of the week and then the second module that I’m studying in the second half of the week. I stick to the study planner and use that commute on the train, so it’s manageable and it lets me get quite a lot done each day.
The advice I’d give potential students is that even if you’re maybe daunted a bit at the beginning about the required study time, don’t be put off by the fact that you should be studying 32 hours a week because if you want it bad enough you can find time here and there. Using a commute or having books around your house, so even while you’re cooking or maybe waiting for something in the microwave you can be flicking through a page. It’s just a case of finding that time, identifying it and then sticking to it.
I needed to have a degree and The Open University provided the best possible situation for me to do that whilst working in the school. Once I’ve done my PGCE I think I’ll be pretty much addicted to learning and I’ll be constantly looking for other areas to progress in.
In this job I’m working with kids that always bring a smile to my face, I’m doing sport and games which I love and it’s a good life. Without the OU and without the degree, that wouldn’t be a possibility for me at this time.”
If you have been inspired by Ricky’s story and would like to study sport and fitness at the Open University, please visit our ‘Study with us’ page.
We are seeking an experienced academic in coaching practice to join our growing and vibrant team of academic staff playing a leading role in exploring opportunities in coaching-related Higher/Degree Apprenticeships and/or a Master’s programme. You will also contribute to updating materials, teaching activities and active research that connects with our BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching. This online programme supports some 2500 students mostly in sports related employment.
You will have excellent knowledge of coaching science and practice including a good understanding of sector training, development and coach/athlete learning, based on considerable experience of working in higher education and external coaching networks. You will have a strong research profile with quality publications and evidence of collaborating with external organisations.
The closing date is: 17th July 2017
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