The City of Wolverhampton Council, education improvement partnership Connect-Ed and Active Black Country have worked together to develop the
Community Sport and Health Apprenticeship Programme, which has seen more than a dozen young people recruited as apprentices to provide a wide range of health and fitness activities in Wolverhampton schools and the local community.
The programme was launched to tackle challenging levels of inactivity among young people and growing health concerns including the number of local children who are leaving primary school overweight or obese, figures amongst the highest in the country.
The apprentices, supported by apprenticeship provider Aspire, have been working in primary and secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units across Wolverhampton since the autumn, delivering fun, inclusive and challenging health and wellbeing programmes to pupils and staff focusing on healthy eating, physical activity and sport.
They are also working in the local community, encouraging families to live healthy and active lives, while at the same time working towards a Level 3 apprenticeship.
And the impact they have had is already beginning to be felt at schools across the city. For instance, at Graiseley Primary School, half of pupils are now achieving their recommended 60 minutes of activity per day through after school clubs, and St Luke's Primary School has developed a parent and child club and is delivering active Maths and English sessions during the school day.
Meanwhile, at Grove Primary School a fitness class for staff has been launched, promoting workplace health and showing that health improvement is not just for pupils.
To showcase this unique approach the Community Sport and Health Apprenticeship Programme was officially launched at a special celebration at Wolverhampton Art Gallery yesterday (Wednesday).
Key stakeholders including headteachers and representatives from the council's Education and Public Health teams, Connect-Ed, Active Black Country and national organisations including Sport England, were able to hear first hand from apprentices about their work, and plans to grow the programme further across the region.
Ian Carey, Director of Active Black Country, the Country Sports Partnership for the region, said: "The Community Sport and Health Apprenticeship Programme sees schools across the city offer job opportunities for young people to work with pupils and their families and encourage them to be physically active.
"This innovative approach - which we believe is the first of its type nationally - uses schools and the City of Wolverhampton Council's apprenticeship levy to train the apprentices and PE and Sport Premium funding to employ them. The commitment from the schools will hopefully see the apprentices employed at the end of the training.
"This use of the Premium in a more sustainable way, to improve the health of children and young people across the city and create jobs, meets strategic objectives of a number of local stakeholders including the council, Connect-Ed Partnership, Active Black Country and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership."
Councillor Lynne Moran, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "This innovative scheme has proved an excellent opportunity for young people who are passionate about sport, physical activity and healthy lifestyles to take that first step on the career ladder through an apprenticeship, giving them valuable skills, a nationally-recognised qualification, a weekly wage and a pension.
"At the same time, they have been able to introduce an exciting range of health and wellbeing programmes into our schools which are already having a great impact."
Councillor Hazel Malcolm, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "We are working hard to improve the health and wellbeing of our children and young people, and this innovative programme is helping not only young people but also their families to achieve healthier lifestyles and get their recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity."