Adapting sessions digitally to maintain student development amid lockdown

It has been more than two months since many of our students last met their tutors and coaches face-to-face after all education sites across the country were ordered to impose measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

At Velocity Football, our doors were last open to a limited number of students before the Christmas break. Thankfully, cases across the UK are falling and consequently, the re-opening of schools and higher education sites appears to be on the horizon.

The last six weeks have presented enormous challenges to the Velocity Football team and students. We spoke to Lauren Haynes, head coach of our female programme, to learn how the delivery of education has been adjusted to maintain students’ development levels and reflect on what has been achieved so far this year.

Reacting to lockdown #3

After it was confirmed on January 4 that the UK would enter a third lockdown, Velocity Football staff reacted quickly to develop an online learning plan that would bring classroom and on-field activities to students’ homes.

Those without access to laptops were quickly provided with the tools required to continue their studies and remain engaged with their classmates with whom they had established strong friendships.

“Everything we planned to deliver in the classroom and on the training ground was turned around in three days so we could deliver lessons and sessions digitally,” said Lauren. “We had to adapt our delivery slightly, it’s important to remember students are stuck at home so routine immediately goes out of the window.”

Lauren Haynes delivers a live session for students to follow from Oxford City Football Club via Zoom.

Establishing healthy routine

Since New Year, all sessions have been delivered via Zoom and pre-planned through a shared calendar that can be accessed by everyone under the Velocity umbrella.

Each week, students studying our Level 2 and Level 3 BTEC programmes delivered in partnership with Virtual Learning UK receive a minimum of 12 hours of teaching and assignment work in addition to four hours of live workouts and training sessions.  

Lauren added: “Students are stuck at home and distractions are inevitable. We knew we could help students focus and boost their mental health too by developing a remote learning routine for everyone to follow.

“Coaching and fitness sessions have been delivered by our staff live from Oxford City FC with myself, Aliyah Anthony, Mickey Lewis, Jack Tutton, Jordan Piper and Josh Ashby all delivering our own sessions to mix things up. It’s great to maintain that engagement.”

Keeping it practical

The appeal of Velocity Football to many prospective students is the course’s practical element.

With that in mind, extracurricular programmes have been introduced to ensure our hands-on approach to learning has not evaporated despite lockdown. Programmes that have been introduced since the New Year include weekly analysis sessions, tactical sessions, HIIT, cross-fit and resistance band workouts, plus baking club.

Lauren added: “Baking Club stemmed from a self-employment unit that students are currently studying,” said Lauren. “It is outside of their normal curriculum, so my involvement as a tutor is minimal which is great as students can apply coaching and teaching skills we provide by leading lessons and educating their classmates.

“Velocity Football is a practical course, and that is what a lot of our students are here for. We’ve therefore tried to keep that practical element locked into our programme despite the challenges of providing content remotely.”

Students have embraced ‘baking club’ as part of their weekly extracurricular activities.

Community spirit

Outside of their academic commitments, all students committed to Red January at the start of term and helped raise more than £1,000 for mental health charity Sport in Mind.

In addition, girls studying Velocity’s BTEC programme each completed a marathon on Wednesday, February 10, to raise funds for support packages being delivered to families in need during lockdown via Ignite Sport UK, Oxford City FC, Fit Fest Oxford and The Oxford Food Company.

In total, almost £3,000 was raised for these two excellent causes by Velocity Football staff and students who collectively ran more than 1,000 miles.

To support the girls’ marathon challenge, you can still donate to Ignite Sport UK, Oxford City FC, Fit Fest Oxford and The Oxford Food Company’s support packages here.

All female students completed a marathon on February 10 to raise funds for support packages being delivered to families in need amid lockdown.

Exemplary attitudes

Despite the challenges of remote learning, Lauren expressed her pride regarding what students have achieved from home this term.

“I know how difficult it is for them to apply themselves to education amid such a drastic change of routine,” said Lauren. “But the girls and boys on the Velocity programmes have adapted extremely well.

“It must have been so easy for them to shut off their laptops and approach the past six weeks like an extended Christmas break. But attendance and attitude from everyone has been fantastic and we could not be happier.

“The motivation for everyone right now is that hopefully we can get back on the training ground soon and start learning in a COVID-19 secure environment.”

Learning new skills and the future

So, what will next term look like for Velocity Football students?

We will continue to be guided by the Government and ensure student safety is of the highest importance. But that does not mean new skills cannot be learnt.

Lauren added: “A few students had work experience placements lined up within Oxford City Football Club in the video analysis department, the academy and with strength and conditioning coaches.

“Of course, these placements have been put on hold. But the time that would have been spent on work experience has instead been replaced with sessions that help students establish a better understand of the sector they are interested in pursuing.

“We hope this means once students can safely fulfil work experience placements that they will be more comfortable in their surroundings having researched their respective sectors more.”

If you’d like to learn more about Velocity Football and the courses we provide in partnership with Virtual Learning UK, why not sign up to our next virtual open event.

Full details and sign-up information can be viewed here.

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