“It’s like a dream come true”

Evaluating Coach Core’s 2021 Northumberland, Tyne & Wear programme

By James Burbidge · 7th July 2023

“I love playing football on street corners and getting paid for it it’s like a dream come true”

In September 2021, the second Level 2 Community Activator Coach programme was launched in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, building on the successes of the 2019 programme. In addition, due to the desire to further develop young people in the area, a new Level 3 Community Sports Health Officer pilot programme was launched. This is Coach Core’s first use of an Advanced level apprenticeship (equivalent to A-levels) and it was open to people who had been on a Coach Core Level 2 programme as well as newcomers to Coach Core.

Key Figures



Community Activator Coach Level 2  Community Sports Health Officer Level 3  Both Programmes 
Number of Employers  11 4 12 (unique)
Initial intake of Apprentices  19 5 24
Completers  63% 80% 67%
Distinctions 17% 100% 38%
Female 47% 40% 46%
Aged 16-18  47% 0% 38%
Learner support needs  11% 20% 13%
Ethnically diverse communities  5% 0% 4%
Top 30% Area of Deprivation 53% 20% 46%
Total Number of Coaching Sessions 16,890 4,523 21,413
Total Number of Coaching Interactions  236,460 63,325 299,785

About the Apprentices


Both the Level 2 and Level 3 programmes have been incredibly successful with 67% of learners across both qualifications completing the course. This is higher than the national achievement rate of 57.7% for the 2020/21 academic year.

The apprentices that completed the Level 2 course have all been offered employment contracts, ranging from 0-hour contracts to full-time. 8 (60%) of them have been offered these contracts with their apprenticeship employer, demonstrating that the organisation highly valued the work they did. Due to the current challenging financial climate, this is a really positive indication that organisations appreciate the benefits a Coach Core graduate can offer them. Although not all apprentices were offered employment through their employer, the career development they gained through the qualification supported them to remain in the workforce.

“Although not all apprentices completed the programme, this is to be expected given the nature of the young people we are working with. One young person who did not complete the apprenticeship moved on as they had secured full time employment within a local school which they would not have been able to do without undertaking the apprenticeship and we still view this as a positive outcome.”

Jade Scott, Adult Health and Wellbeing Strategic Lead at Rise

All apprentices that completed the Level 3 qualification have remained in or been offered full-time employment with their employer and therefore will be able to continue to develop their sports coaching careers and put into practice all the skills they developed during their course.

“The apprenticeship was that opportunity to do something that I’m obviously passionate about. I’ve always been passionate about sport but I thought at my age, it was probably going to be too late, but it wasn’t. The opportunity came round and I grabbed it with both hands and I’ve never looked back since. I feel like I’ve got a job that I’m proud to say what I am”.

Key areas for improvement highlighted in the above table include increasing the representation of apprentices from ethnically diverse communities, those with learner support needs, and females for the Level 3 qualification. These groups often face discrimination and are under-represented in the sport and physical activity sector so it is important they are offered opportunities to develop.

“Although we achieved a diverse range of employers, showcasing the inclusivity and breadth of opportunities available through the programme, ensuring diversity among the apprentices proved to be a challenge, highlighting the need for targeted outreach and recruitment strategies.”

Paul Thompson, programme manager at Coach Core

Apprentice Wellbeing

Coach Core monitor apprentice wellbeing using the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (these questions are standardised questions that are asked in nationally collected surveys, including Sport England’s Active Lives survey). On average these Coach Core apprentices had a 15% higher score at the end of the programme compared to the start, indicating a significant average uplift in wellbeing. In particular, Apprentices experienced a 40% reduction in feeling anxious.

“I think leaving school and then having a full time job was a massive change in responsibilities. So I had to grow into that quite quickly just to deal with keeping on top of things. My confidence grew a lot and my communication skills working with a massive range of different people from disability cricket, young children and older teenagers. The apprenticeship made me grow a lot as a person.

About the Employers

Level 2 Level 3
Percy Park Rugby Club Newcastle United Foundation
Projects4Change Newcastle Falcons
The Turf Northumberland Cricket Board
National Trust Hat-Trick
Northumberland County Council
Northumberland Cricket Board
Circus Central
Newcastle Falcons
Sports Works
Sunderland Community Action Group

For the Level 2 programme, 8 (72%) of the employers were involved in the 2019 programme. This is a high retention rate, demonstrating that organisations value Coach Core and the contributions an apprentice(s) can make to their organisation.

For the Level 3 programme, 3 (75%) of the employers had employed apprentices in previous programmes, again demonstrating they believe in Coach Core’s mission. In addition, 2 (40%) of the initial intake of apprentices had previously completed the Level 2 Community Activator Coach qualification with Coach Core and wanted to further progress their career development by taking on the higher level qualification.

“They [apprentices] are local young people so they understand where the children and young people who they work with are coming from. They know the situations they face, they know the difficulties, they know their strengths and weaknesses and they're able to connect with them immediately”

Keith Parsons, Community Sports Manager at Hat-trick


The 2021 Northumberland, Tyne & Wear programme was a success, with positive recruitment numbers, completion rate and positive outcomes for the young people who took part.

A key finding throughout our evaluation is the incredible work of Wasim, the Learning Coach, at delivering the education aspect of the apprenticeships. The above and beyond support he offered to all involved with the programmes was a vital aspect of their successes.

“Waz is an absolutely incredible tutor and is truly one of the best teachers I’ve ever had! He is so willing to help and encourage his apprentices to be the best they can be!”

Another factor that contributed to the programme’s success was the engagement between apprentices and between employers on the programme, enhancing each other’s experiences.

“One of the apprentices from Percy Park Rugby club was running a rugby festival and they got all the apprentices involved in that festival hosting teams and refereeing games. This offers a better overall experience for learners to get involved in other activities.”

Wasim Collins, Learning Coach

“We all within the first kind of couple of weeks with it being once a week, we all kind of just got on like we knew each other, just got on doing the sports, helping each other any work that needed helping with just we got on like a good little team working together.”

The Level 3 was a positive addition to Coach Core’s offer, as we have already had interest from two employers to support their current Level 2 apprentices into a Level 3 in 2023/24.

In preparation for the third programme in the area, we are looking at improving our recruitment process, including targeted outreach to more candidates from ethnically diverse candidates and an ‘onboarding’ programme prior to recruitment to educate young people fully on the Coach Core model and to ensure the young people make the right choice for them should they decide to accept an apprenticeship offer.


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