Sport Stars News

20.02.07 Sportstars expand across England and Wales!

A sports coaching service set up by young college graduates in Cardiff to relieve pressure on local schools is to be expanded across England and Wales following a surge in demand from teachers.


Sportstars, who provide structured activity sessions to allow teachers time for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) work, was launched a year ago with five schools on their books.


Today, they have contracts with more than 30 schools, employ 10 full-time staff, 60 on-call coaches and have run in-school and holiday courses for more than 5,000 children.


They are in talks with a further 20 schools and will open branches covering West Wales, Gloucestershire and Hereford and the Bristol, Bath and Somerset regions early next year, in advance of a full national roll-out.


Sportstars was launched by James Taylor, a Cardiff University child psychology graduate and qualified teacher and sports coach, who spent time teaching children in America and Africa.


When the Government introduced new rules last year allowing teachers to spend 10% of their working week on PPA, Mr Taylor realised this would create gaps in the availability of staff on school timetables.


He persuaded head teachers to hand over responsibility for running some PE sessions to him and his team of sports-mad graduates from Cardiff University. They arrive fully-equipped to run up to 15 chosen activities - ranging from football to cheerleading.


Schools which have used the service say it not only releases staff for PPA demands but has helped fire up the enthusiasm of pupils and helps raise the standard of school sports teams.


The success of Sportstars was recognised when James Taylor was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Wales in this years Shell Livewire Awards.


He said: "The introduction of PPA last September presented heads with a timetable challenge and we knew we could help.


"We began by running lessons for five schools for a few hours a week. The pupils loved it, the word spread and we are now working at some schools for more than 25 hours a week. The demand has been phenomenal."


The companys staff, all PE specialists aged 18 to 25, provide structured lesson plans linked to the curriculum, together with progression and assessment reports.


They also run highly popular holiday and half-term courses. Events this summer attracted 1,500 children at 21 venues across South Wales. They are now expanding into after-school and Saturday clubs and school fund-raising events.


Mr Taylor added: "Sport is well known for developing teamwork, confidence, self-esteem and discipline. We are delighted to be playing a part in encouraging positive attitudes.


"Its been such a success that we are preparing plans to extend our service across the UK, providing activities for special needs schools as well."


Steven Downes, head of a primary school in Cardiff, said "Sportstars are providing a fantastic service in our school, delivering an invaluable learning experience and a positive influence for our pupils."




Because of its growth potential, Sportstars is receiving advice from business specialists Entrepreneur Action under the Welsh Assembly Governments General Support for Business Programme.