Coaching in the UK

DCMS strategy consultation - our response

Tue, 29 Sep 2015

The DCMS consultation will inform the Government’s new strategy on sport, which is due to be published by the end of 2015. The consultation was structured in 10 themes, setting out the challenges the Government wishes to address and inviting responses as to the actions needed and the specific roles of government, delivery bodies, the sports sector and those outside sport. Our response was in the form of a headline statement (below) and detailed answers to many of the questions raised. 

Principles of our response:

  • A long-term, cross departmental strategy is needed, with strategic decisions based on customer-centric insights
  • A broad definition of coaching should be adopted to encompass all relevant roles
  • Coaching should be recognised for the wider benefits it can bring to society
  • Government should commit to the recruitment, development, deployment and retention of a flexible and truly diverse workforce
  • sports coach UK is committed to working with the Government, UK Sport, Sport England and other landscape partners to bring effect to the new strategy
  • We encourage other organisations to work with us to embed a culture of collaboration.

Headline statement

As the UK’s lead agency for coaching, sports coach UK welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the future strategy for sport.

We urge the Government to adopt a long-term, cross-departmental and cross-party approach to the strategy. The involvement of other Government Departments is crucial because of the need to overcome complex issues around inactivity which go beyond the sport sector. Sustainable behavioural change cannot be achieved by short-term interventions alone, hence our recommendation for a 10- or 20-year strategy. The strategy should be based on customer-centric market intelligence and insights. In our role as the lead development agency for coaching, we look forward to working with Government and many other organisations to identify these insights and develop suitable, sustainable solutions to make sport and physical activity an integral part of our everyday lives.

We believe the new sports strategy should consider those motivated to play sport because they want to develop skills or take part in competitive sport, along with those taking part in physical activity because of reasons relating to health, education, wellbeing and social engagement. We are driven by the belief that coaching can play a central role in creating sustainable behavioural change. The value of coaching is widely recognised within sport and the new sport strategy presents an opportunity to ensure that coaching is recognised for the wider benefits coaches can bring to society.

Over the past 30 years we have developed a system and infrastructure for developing coaches across more than 30 sports. The UK Coaching Framework provides the reference point and building blocks for excellent coaching systems, the principles of which can be extended to the wider workforce within physical activity, education and health. The research and insight that we continue to gather has led us to broaden our understanding of coaching and the value that an appropriately qualified and skilled coaching workforce can add to sectors beyond sport. We recommend therefore that a broad definition of coaching is adopted to encompass all the myriad roles that exist within the paid and voluntary workforces:

‘Coaching is helping all people achieve their goals through sport and physical activity’.

This recognises that the inter-personal or ‘soft’ skills inherent within coaching can be applied across all the relevant sectors. We look forward to working collaboratively with Government and other partners to develop this definition further, sharing our insights and learning from our work so far and building on existing systems to support the broader workforce.

Specialist agencies have provided a mass of information and advice on the potential for physical activity to provide positive benefits for many health and wellbeing-related issues. Before doctors can prescribe physical activity, they must be confident that the workforce is appropriately developed and supported and hence capable of delivering the benefits.

In creating the strategy, we believe the Government should commit to the recruitment, development, deployment and retention of a flexible and truly diverse workforce which is appropriately trained and supported to meet the wide range of participant (customer) needs.

We are committed to working with the Government, UK Sport, Sport England and other landscape partners to bring effect to the new sport strategy. As a result, our own strategy will be informed by the Government strategy, together with the Coaching Plan for England and the UK Coaching Framework. We are already working to extend the scope of our insights to wider audiences and are committed to developing a diverse, fit for purpose workforce that delivers excellent coaching, every time for everyone.

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