Sporting chance for kids at Dundee Academy of Sport

SPORT will be used to encourage an interest in academic studies and to widen access to university as part of a pioneering project.

The academy will be run jointly by Abertay University and Dundee and Angus College. Picture: PA

The Dundee Academy of Sport, a partnership between Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College, hopes to harness the popularity of sport to support the Curriculum for Excellence.

Stories from the world of sport will be used to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become more interested and engaged with other subjects, those behind the project said.

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Project Manager Ian Lowe said: “The Dundee Academy of Sport isn’t just about doing sport itself, but is about using issues surrounding it to engage young people with their education.

“So the academy’s schools programme will tie in with the Curriculum for Excellence and will link sport with a wide range of academic subjects.

“This might be in the form of getting the pupils on exercise bikes during their geography lessons so that they can follow the course of the Tour de France, or learning about the context of famous images from sport – such as the reasons for the Black Power salute given by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics – in their modern studies classes.

“The academy staff will support the teaching and learning of sports-related subjects in this way from school level right through to postgraduate and research-degree level.

“We’ll be working with four local secondary schools this year, along with their associated primary schools, with the long-term goal being to motivate and engage the students in such a way that they will decide to go on to higher education at the academy.”

The academy will be run jointly by the university and the college with money from the Scottish Funding Council, which provides higher and further education institutions with finance on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Sports education staff at both institutions will work with staff from local schools – both primary and secondary – to develop a programme that meets their individual needs.

Professor Nigel Seaton, the principal and vice-chancellor of Abertay University, said: “With 2014 being such a significant year for Scotland in terms of sporting events, there couldn’t be a more positive time to launch the Dundee Academy of Sport.

“The Curriculum for Excellence is all about equipping our young people with the skills and attributes they will need when they grow up, and the teaching offered by the academy will complement that perfectly. Both Abertay and Dundee & Angus College have significant experience of working with local schools and the community.”

The Scottish Government has made widening access to university one of its priorities, with the number of those from the poorest backgrounds at the country’s top institutions remaining stubbornly low.