Young people who enrol with Coachmakers experience a “huge evolution,” gaining the confidence, self-discipline, knowledge and skills they need to start a career in sport.

That’s the view of Ian Oakley, External Contract Account Manager at Weston College, who are responsible for assessing the Coachmakers programme and drawing its funding.

“Our college motto is ‘Creating brighter futures’ and that’s exactly what Coachmakers do too,” he says. “They don’t just get young people through their qualifications, they get them ready for a job. As the name suggests, they make coaches.”

Coachmakers’ different programmes include not just academic qualifications, but work experience, on-the-job training and apprenticeships. It’s a holistic approach that consistently turns inhibited and disengaged young people into confident, enthusiastic coaches who go on to be assets to employers.

New starters with Coachmakers have had mixed experiences of education; many have few qualifications and lack confidence. But Ian has witnessed Coachmakers’ effect on them and describes it as “dramatic”.

“By the end of the course, the young people have a skillset that is of use to an employer, but more than that, they have a work ethic and attitude that would make them a real asset to any workplace,” he reflects.

“I’ve seen so many times a huge evolution in those who take the courses. They develop confidence and self-discipline and they become motivated and curious learners.

“I think that’s down to Coachmakers’ holistic approach. Some join the course having not passed Maths or English at GCSE and while the course fills those gaps and progresses them up to Level 3 (the equivalent of A-Levels), it also provides the practical skills and experience to train them for sports coaching too.

“Although it is an educational setting, they’re treated as adults and empowered to do a job. It’s a completely different approach to education than they probably experienced before.

“The fact they go on to apprenticeships, which involve an employer interviewing them and giving them a contract of employment, is amazing, because a lot of them would certainly not have been employable when they started the course.”

Led by directors Natasha Mills and Liz Barker, the Coachmakers tutors forge deep working relationships with each learner, looking after their wellbeing and removing any barriers to learning. It’s a strategy that really brings each young coach out of their shell.

“To me, the social development of their students is as impressive and apparent as their educational development,” says Ian. “I’ve seen people’s attitudes go from poor to exemplary. You see children turning into adults in many cases – it’s that stark.

“That’s really what education is about. It’s about going beyond just qualifications and developing them as people. The 2nd Chance Group’s Coachmakers programme does that naturally.”

Weston College’s role in the partnership is essentially to act a vehicle for the 2nd Chance Group to claim funding from the Educational and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) which it uses to run the Coachmakers programme. But before that can happen, the college has to do due diligence to ensure that funding is going to an accredited, safe, financially sound, thriving and successful project. According to Ian, this has never been in doubt at any time during the college’s seven-year partnership with 2nd Chance.

Coachmakers’ grading is consistently at Level 1 (outstanding) and 2 (good) on the Common Inspection Framework used by Oftsed and Ian says teaching “is of a consistently high standard”.

He concludes: “The best bit about Coachmakers is it’s not education for education’s sake. With each learner they’re creating a full package – a qualified, hard-working, enthusiastic, fully trained, fully rounded and highly employable young person.”