Leicester Tigers’ community coaches have had to get creative to ensure one of Premiership Rugby’s award-winning programmes continues to run in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HITZ initiative uses rugby’s core values to help young people not in education, training or employment to gain new skills and qualifications, and progress into employment or further education.
And now the project has been revamped in a matter of days with online classes to allow students to stay engaged while isolated at home.
Using a mixture of virtual lessons and daily enrichment activities, the Tigers team have drawn on a number of different techniques to ensure that learners can stay on track with qualifications in BTEC Sport, employability, plus functional skills such as maths and English.
Tigers HITZ officer Anthony O’Reilly described the positive response to the enforced changes.
“Technology today is brilliant and it means we haven’t had to compromise when it comes to the students’ learning,” he said.
“We’ve found that engagement has been really high and students have enjoyed our challenges – even more so when they beat us!”
The programme is delivered in partnership with Premiership Rugby’s official education provider SCL.
HITZ tutor Pete Thorpe added: “The switch has not only been challenging from a teaching point of view but also for the students, some of whom are vulnerable and can find change difficult to cope with.
“I have been so impressed with the number who have engaged and started using the new set up to complete work. We are all learning all the time but it is a great relief to know we can still help young people to achieve qualifications in this difficult time.”
And Tigers health and inclusion manager Sam Swift concluded with a call to action for the learners who have refused to let the coronavirus outbreak affect their education.
“We are now showing all of our students that while there may be bumps in the road, resilience and hard work will always prevail,” he said.
“For us, there is no reason why all of our students can’t achieve the results that their hard work this year deserves.”