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Hallam accredited by ground-breaking dual career scheme

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Sheffield Hallam University is leading the way with supporting talented athletes in education in England, having been accredited by an innovative new Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) initiative.

The Sport England-funded Scheme believes that every young person on a talent pathway should have the opportunity to gain qualifications alongside their sporting pursuits and have the chance to follow other interests and personal development.

And by formally recognising an institution’s commitment to supporting student-athletes, the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme aims to allow athletes to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sport.

Referenced within the Education section of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care in Sport Review published in April, accreditation shows that a college or university has the ability to support students following a dual career route.

Backing the new scheme, she said: “Having looked in detail at the talent pathway and the support available for talented young athletes in the Duty of Care review I carried out earlier this year, I’m really pleased to learn that TASS are now accrediting education institutions.

“I believe we have to a duty to help young people to achieve their potential, whilst prioritising their welfare, wellbeing and education.For the vast majority of athletes, skills and formal qualifications are needed to help them find alternative careers, either alongside their sporting activities or once their sporting days are over.

“For me the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is a vitally important measure to ensuring all athletes have the chance to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded approach to life.” - Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

As a Dual Career Accredited Centre, Team Hallam will be an important extension of the network of universities that already partner with TASS, delivering core support services to more than 400 student-athletes each year.

These support services include physiotherapy, nutrition, lifestyle support, psychology strength and conditioning and a private medical scheme.

While some of the existing services delivered focus solely on developing the young person’s sporting performance, a dual career support structure and academic flexibility policies will be central to the help available to athletes based at an Accredited Centre.

All Dual Career Accredited Centres are set to receive a toolkit of resources to help provide practical dual career support and bring together all parties who work with the athlete.

For student-athletes, the academic flexibility policies may mean they have the opportunity to access online notes or resources, have a choice of assignments, are able to arrange catch up sessions with lecturers, or even reschedule deadlines or exam dates in exceptional circumstances.

Meanwhile for Sheffield Hallam, the recognition of becoming a TASS Dual Career Accredited Centre is expected to be beneficial by attracting a greater number of talented athletes and building connections with other local sporting institutions.

Hallam is one of 30 established TASS Delivery Sites that currently deliver specialist services a select group of talented athletes each year and is the first higher education institution to have their commitment approved by the university’s Vice Chancellor.

The new status as a Dual Career Accredited Centre is an enhancement of the university’s existing partnership with TASS and signifies the additional commitments made to dual career support.

Sheffield Hallam’s Sam Thompson is a national level volleyball athlete who is currently on the university’s Performance Athlete Support Programme, as well as having benefitted from TASS support in the past year.

The LLB Law with Criminology student explained how studying at a university that is equipped to deliver dual career support has helped him. He said: “Balancing the high workload of my course and the busy volleyball training and S&C schedule has proven to be a challenge.

“When I have felt under pressure due to coursework deadlines, a demanding workload and high training volume, I requested an extension for some pieces of coursework.

“The athlete support team made this process easy as possible for me, which in turn helped to reduce pressure and stress of balancing the various commitments I have as a student athlete.

“I also believe that the reduced academic stress has enabled me to focus more on volleyball, allowing me to maintain competing and training at a high level.”

TASS National Director, Guy Taylor, said: “We’re delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to the first colleges and universities to complete the commitment process.

“Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that’s why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education too.

 “We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution.

“Congratulations to the first Dual Career Accredited Centres and we look forward to working alongside many more outstanding colleges and universities in the near future.”

Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith added: “Our future sporting champions shouldn’t have to choose between getting an education and excelling at their sport, but they are at risk of dropping out of one of them if they don’t get the right support.

 “Since 2004, over 6,000 athletes have been supported via the Sport England-funded TASS scheme, 98 of whom went on to compete at the Rio Olympics.

 “We’re excited we can now offer education institutions the opportunity to become a TASS Dual Career Accredited Centre, so they can access training and resources to help provide practical dual career support for athletes.”

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email or Zoe Addison at TASS on 0191 6078273.