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Case Study

Connor Smith

Sunderland, UK

BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching


Connor Smith completed a Sports Leading Apprenticeship and this confirmed he wanted a career in PE teaching. Connor decided to study Sports Coaching at the University of Sunderland after attending an open day, where he met lecturers and current students. He enjoyed the practical elements of the course and getting involved in the Universities’ societies. Connor is now a qualified teacher.

I attended a University open day which had a welcoming feel, and I was able to meet lectures and current students. The day gave me all the information I needed and ultimately made my decision to study at the University of Sunderland. Prior to this, I had just completed a Sports Leading Apprenticeship at my local Primary School (Eppleton Academy). This apprenticeship all but confirmed that I wanted a career in PE teaching. Therefore, I decided to study Sports Coaching as this could lead onto a PGCE in PE teaching. I loved my apprenticeship as no day was ever the same. I strongly believe that my apprenticeship matured me as a person, as I was a role model to many younger students and therefore had to be professional yet approachable each day.

As any typical kinesthetic learner, the practical elements were the ones that I enjoyed the most. Whether that be coaching young people or fellow students, I embraced every coaching session. I always ensured that my sessions were well planned and that all participants’ needs were catered for. I believe that this has helped me in my current career. Another element of the course that I particularly enjoyed was Sports Psychology. This was a topic that I had heard was interesting, but I had never been taught this until I joined the University. Questions around what goes on in a sports person’s head, how does this affect performance, were elements that I found particularly interesting.

The most important advice I would give to any prospective students would be to get involved with the Universities’ societies. The University of Sunderland has a range of societies that any student can take part in. I played for the Universities Football 1st Team for the duration of my time at University. I absolutely loved travelling the country and competing in BUCS each week. Joining societies provides you with a sense of relief from your academic studies and enables you to meet people with similar interests. I met people of whom I keep in touch with to this day.

In terms of academic advice, I would suggest that you attend every lecture and seminar. Missing these sessions can put you at a disadvantage and I guarantee by doing so you will miss out on vital information. Additionally, always ensure you complete all assignments with time to spare. This enables you to re-read your work and make improvements.

After graduating I went on to complete my Teacher Training studies at Durham University, where I graduated with QTS. My time in Further Education has developed my love for teaching and learning. I want to inspire the young people of today and guide their learning and progress to ensure that they become the best people that they can be. My long-term aims are to become an established PE Teacher in a Secondary School (wherever that may be) and continue to inspire hundreds of current pupils.

The University of Sunderland opened my eyes to various teaching and coaching styles, all of which I use on a regular basis. I have had a truly unforgettable experience, of which I will forever treasure."

Published 12 April 2021

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