This article was supplied by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
TASS accredited Barton Peveril Sixth Form College is committed to helping dual career athletes excel across a range of sports. Simon Rushworth found out more about a new generation of future stars backed to realise their sporting dreams and hit their academic targets.
Footballers tackling the FA Women’s Super League. Hockey’s rising stars shooting for national recognition. Divers making a splash at international level and BMX trailblazers racing to glory. Barton Peveril Sixth Form College is a melting pot of burning ambition with staff nurturing a new generation of committed athletes determined to achieve their dual career goals.
Representing England, Liv Austin celebrated discus gold at last September’s prestigious SIAB International meet in Derby and moves up to Under 20 competition this year. The Barton Peveril student has one eye on next summer’s European Championships in Romania and the TASS-supported athlete said: “I was elated to win on my international debut.
“After a tough couple of years, the win was exactly what I have been working for. I’m now looking forward to the challenge of moving up an age category and focusing on my long-term goal of the European Championships.”
Fellow TASS athlete Millie Searle is making waves as a fast-rising windsurfer and the Barton Peveril student has been a member of the British Youth Sailing National Squad since 2017.
A sixth-placed finish at last August’s Techno293 European Championships in Estonia underlined the talented teenager’s obvious potential and she explained: “My goal for the sport is to continue up the Olympic pathway and experiment with different forms of windsurfing.
“I’d also love to encourage young girls to get into windsurfing and make the sport more sustainable.”
Liv and Millie face very different challenges in energy-sapping events at opposite ends of the sporting scale. But like so many of their peers at Barton Peveril, the pair have one thing in common: TASS support.
TASS dual career accredited site status
More than 50 sixth forms and colleges have achieved TASS dual career accredited site status across England. Barton Peveril, based in Eastleigh in Hampshire, joined the TASS network three years ago in a bid to offer greater support to its growing community of elite student athletes.
“Prior to becoming a TASS accredited institution we didn’t realise just how many of our students were having to contend with a heavy workload and a demanding training and events schedule,”
explained Alix Christopher, TASS dual career coordinator at Barton Peveril and chair of the Hampshire PE Association.
“Now that the college has been accredited we can better support those students in tandem with other experts, practitioners and national governing bodies.
“I work exclusively with TASS students as a group once a week. I have one lesson per week with the first year TASS students and the same with the second years.
“It’s a chance for student athletes to spend time in the company of people in the same situation as they are and to bounce ideas and concerns off each other.
“If you’re sacrificing so much of your time training and competing then it’s important to understand that there are other students going through exactly the same thing and facing exactly the same challenges.
“Of course, I encourage our TASS athletes to talk to me whenever they have a problem but sometimes it’s important that they talk to each other if they’re struggling in some way. And our students are very good at supporting each other.”
Robbie Lee is hoping to follow in Tom Daley’s footsteps and win diving gold for Great Britain. Last October the TASS-supported Barton Peveril student claimed silver in both the individual and synchronised dives at the Junior Elite Championships staged in Plymouth.
With his sights set on the Olympics, World Championship and Commonwealth Games, Robbie said:
“It feels really good to represent my country but there’s also a big responsibility to perform well. I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
Another Barton Peveril student looking forward to an exciting future is Samantha Baird. The teenager heads to the French city of Nantes this summer to compete in the Over 17s 2022 BMX Racing World Championships.
And the international veteran — who attends training camps and masterclasses hundreds of miles away in Manchester every month — said:
“I’m more motivated than ever and feel I’m on the pathway for big successes.”
Samantha’s punishing training and events schedule is typical of the unique challenges facing TASS athletes juggling sport and academic work. Alix and her colleagues accept there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to supporting Barton Peveril’s array of talented athletes but being part of the TASS community puts students in pole position to achieve their goals.
“My colleagues are incredibly supportive and really keen to work with our TASS athletes,” she added. “The college counsellors have done sessions on resilience and mental health and the exams team have been in to talk to the students about working together on timetabling.
“Even the marketing department has got involved and spent time with the TASS athletes to talk to them about properly promoting themselves and their brand. There’s a genuinely collaborative approach to supporting our student athletes.
“They need that support but at the moment I’d say the TASS students at Barton Peveril are coping remarkably well with the demands of life as a dual career athlete.”
Meanwhile, cricketer PJ Watkins has been keeping a close eye on developments at this month’s ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. Another of Barton Peveril’s sporting success stories has been snapped up by the Southern Vipers’ Academy, based at Hampshire CC’s Ageas Bowl, and the TASS athlete said: “I’m incredibly proud to have made the Vipers squad.
“I’ve worked hard to get there and have had excellent coaching and support throughout the system.
“I now need to grasp the opportunity and get the best from every learning experience this brings in order to be the best player I can — whilst having fun too!”
Kelci Bowers echoes that determination to realise her potential. The centre half was one of two Barton Peveril footballers recruited by Chelsea last year and went on to represent the London club’s Under 18 FA Women’s Super League side.
Kelci and England Under 17 star Grace Palmer both inked deals with the Blues in 2021 after the pair made their mark for Southampton Football Club Women. “I’m so happy to have started a new journey at Chelsea,” said Kelci. “I’m challenged there weekly and pushed to be the best player I can be.”
For Alix it’s vital that Barton Peveril’s TASS athletes benefit from targeted support when they need it most and she added: “I can be the middleman, so to speak.
“As TASS coordinator, I’m there to listen to the students and communicate their issues to the wider school community.
“They don’t have to talk to every teacher if they’re going to miss a few days due to their sporting commitments.
“They know that I’ll make my colleagues aware of any specific issues and they can focus on their sporting goals when it comes to an intense period of training or competition.”
Commitment to dual career support for talented athletes
The TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme recognises an education institution’s commitment to dual career support for talented athletes who are in full time education.
The scheme operates at further education and higher education level, with colleges, sixth forms and universities invited to apply.
The Dual Career Accreditation Scheme acknowledges an enhanced level of academic flexibility and understanding within an institution, allowing talented athletes to balance their studies with a hectic sporting schedule.
“From a college perspective TASS is also a great marketing tool,” added Alix. “It’s recognised by universities and opens a lot of doors.
“We’ve got stronger links with Solent University and we’re part of their TASS Podium Potential Programme.
“Now that we’re part of TASS, other staff within the college have a greater awareness of what our student athletes are expected to do and that’s hugely important.
“It seems to be that the most talented young athletes are quite modest and so subject teachers are often unaware of their out-of-school commitments.
“They are so used to managing their time effectively that they don’t even think to mention their extra-curricular activities to teachers — as a TASS accredited institution we ensure staff are always in the loop when our student athletes are training and competing and facing extra demands on their time.
“And it’s a great situation for our talented student athletes. Every year the range of TASS support seems to get bigger and better!”