The courses include students taking RYA sailing and windsurfing courses and becoming RYA instructors whilst qualifying to work in outdoor activities or move to further education in sport management. There’s an open day about the courses on 24 April.

Some of those involved take up the story……

Paul Miller - Head at Newman College:

As a keen water sports enthusiast and Windsurfing and Sailing Instructor I always wanted to introduce more of this at Cardinal Newman School in Brighton. For years we ran outdoor activity courses at Hove Lagoon but I wanted to run something where our older students took it more seriously and ended up qualified to work in the outdoor education world.

After months of planning with Nick and Harvey at Hove Lagoon the college formed a partnership where we delivered most of the theory in the classroom using our own PE teachers, and Lagoon Watersports delivered all the practical activities and Instructor training at the Lagoon. 

The first cohort are now coming to the end of their two year course and even with Covid getting in the way have made great progress towards becoming qualified to teach watersports as a career or to go to University.

The first year we ran the BTEC sport qualification as our staff were more used this qualification and we selected the outdoor education modules. For the second year though we switched to the BTEC Outdoor Education course and this enabled the instructors at the lagoon to deliver more of the theory side and be more involved in assessments. Students have two days at the lagoon and three days in college so it is a pretty full on course, but they thrive on being busy. 

They have gained so much in not only their personal performance but also in their confidence. We find with our students are mostly painfully shy when it comes to presenting and talking to other adults but students on this course really excel in these areas. In the summer months they have worked at the lagoon which is great experience for them. They also teach our other younger students when they come down for courses and activity sessions so are great role models for the younger children.

In the real winter weeks they come off the lagoon and work with another company called Trek Co. to gain qualifications in mountain biking, archery, rock climbing and walking. Hove and Trek Co. work together to cover aspects of the syllabus that we cannot do in the college and as such it is a great three way partnership.

Lagoon Watersports, an RYA Recognised Training Centre, runs the RYA course for windsurfing and sailing for the students. The aim is that our students work through the RYA scheme until they are at the standard to be instructors themselves. We then use our students as RYA Instructors to run RYA sessions for our younger students in the school. They are also trained as RYA power boat and rescue boat drivers and they do the RYA first aid award. We use these qualification syllabus as evidence for some of their coursework modules.

Nick Scott - Centre Manager at Lagoon Watersports:

When discussions began about delivering a BTEC Outdoor Education programme with Newman College I was genuinely thrilled. Having been through the same course at Plumpton College 12 years ago I’m aware of the positive impact it had on my life, especially at a time where I was a bit lost. Not only did I have a great time during those two years, but it set me up for a career in the outdoor industry. To be in a position now where I can pass on that passion to our students is a real treat. It’s a privilege to watch them grow from shy teenagers to top quality instructors who continue to gain valuable leadership skills and a sense of responsibility. 

The students take part in a wide variety of activities with us. Our ‘core’ sports are sailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and cable wakeboarding. As the lagoon is a waist deep, enclosed body of water it really helps the students progress quickly. Once the basics are mastered we have the sea on our doorstep which is great for sunset paddles, getting into the footstraps windsurfing and even going out on our keelboats from Brighton Marina. 

The wakeboard cables are often the most popular choice of activity and it provides a real sense of progression as well as entertainment and ‘banter’. The cables means there is always something to do, even on days where there is not enough wind for sailing or windsurfing. 

Our Chief Instructor Jack does an amazing job coordinating the practical elements of the programme and ensuring the students get the most from the course. It can be a challenging task to manage the variety in progression between students and the different sports, but Jack does a fantastic job and there couldn’t be a better role model for them. This carries a great energy throughout the cohort and all the students support each other and cheer each other on. This sense of camaraderie amongst them students is essential to keep them motivated through the colder months leading up to Christmas. 

All the team at Lagoon Watersports have really got on board with the programme and it’s great to see the more experienced instructors be a guiding hand throughout their time with us as students during term time, and as assistant instructors in the summer. I am really pleased with how the course has worked out so far, and am excited see how the course develops over the years to come and to hear all the amazing success stories of the students as they progress into their adult lives. 

Jack Shead - Chief Instructor and BTEC Programme Coordinator:

My main role in the BTEC course is writing and delivering the lessons; it’s extremely rewarding as I get to see the progress day to day.

The practical elements of the first year is made up of familiarising each of the different sports and progressing ability. The other part is learning transferable skills and knowledge. For example, we learn ‘how to deliver a presentation’; throughout the rest of the course students will develop this core skill of an instructor and it is useful in any career. In sessions for the practical assessment we learn about equipment and facilities, this is a great way to see exactly goes into a watersports centre.

In the second year we develop skills as an instructor. We cover teaching skills like understanding types of learner, lesson planning and coaching techniques and we apply them to mock courses. We learn about leadership, this could be leading a group of students, leading a planned trip or leading a group of instructors. 

It’s great to be so active and engaged with both year groups and I could not be more proud of the Cardinal Newman students. They bring so much energy and excitement to the lagoon which gives me an incredibly rewarding teaching environment. It’s great to see their progression, not only with the sports but how they are developing as future instructors. I look forward to seeing and hearing where they will take their bright and promising outdoor careers.

Photo - Nick Scott and Jack Shead

Seb Beale - 2nd year Student:

Before this course I was expecting to do a BTEC with a lot of coursework and very little time for practical, but I was startled by how fun this course is. To do watersports for two days a week and get an extended diploma in BTEC Sport it is just amazing. After this course I will be moving to France where I am hoping to get a job as a wakeboard cable driver, as well as using my diploma in a three year university course in sports management.

The course has so many opportunities and fun qualifications to get. As a watersports fan I highly recommend the course for anyone who loves water and having fun while getting recognised qualifications.

Maia Hussain - 1st year Student:

The course have beaten my expectations massively. I have learnt so much more than I expected and it’s amazing. The instructors have shown us all the different opportunities we can have through water sports and doing this course. I was planning on going travelling after the course, but now I want to be a watersports instructors for the summer seasons, whether that means travelling around the world instructing or working at the lagoon meeting new people and having new experiences. I enjoy every part of the course, learning new skills and techniques for each waterspout. Learning theory is made enjoyable so it doesn’t feel like we are in a classroom which is good. Being taught new sports and having the instructors give feedback to help me improve is one of the most enjoyable experiences on the course.

Find out more about:

Cardinal Newman School

Lagoon Watersports

RYA courses and training