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Report shows increased college engagement in AoC Sport virtual challenges during pandemic

28 June 2021


AoC Sport has released an impact report charting the successful shift to online delivery during the pandemic, with nearly 5,000 people participating in virtual programmes, and the positive impact it had on staff and students’ mental health.

The report shows there was an increased appetite and engagement from colleges to take part in virtual challenges organised by AoC Sport, especially via social media. Through integrating sport challenges that students could do at home for the first time ever via apps like Strava, thousands of students across the country could participate and have a connection with their peers. Nearly 100 colleges participated in the Around the World and final Lunar Challenge over the last year.

Many colleges cited the positive effects of being able to engage in activities virtually, particularly the Lunar Challenge which took place during lockdown, and the benefits to the mental wellbeing of students. Several colleges, including Natspec College National Star, took part in an AoC Sport initiative for the first time.

Download the report below

Dean Hardman, AoC Director of Sport and Student Experience said:

“Our 2021 Impact Report is like no other we’ve ever had to produce. Everyone knows about the many challenges that colleges and their students have faced over past year, so the very fact that we are in a position to publish an impact report highlighting the many achievements in FE sport, is testament to the great work being carried out across the sector to get more young people active and engaged with sport and physical activity. It’s been great to reflect on the many and varied programmes that we at AoC Sport, our members and their students have devised and delivered.”

Mental health has been an ongoing organisational priority, and during the pandemic, AoC Sport delivered a new Mental Health Ambassador programme through the Leadership Academy. 140 ambassadors from 46 college groups were recruited to promote the benefits of physical activity and to support students experiencing mental health problems to be more active. AoC Sport also delivered a new e-learning platform with bespoke modules to help the ambassadors across the different programmes.

An important area of work over the last year has been the increased focus to support disabled students in colleges. AoC Sport introduced Inclusion Hubs in colleges for the first time in 2020 to ensure all disabled students have access to the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers and worked with several partners and colleges to produce a bespoke activity pack for disabled students to keep active during lockdowns. The report highlights the inclusive element to all the virtual challenges so as many people as possible could join in.

The challenges of the past year have produced vast change and many of the temporary, emergency measures put in place will likely benefit colleges and students long after the pandemic is over. AoC Sport will engage with members to embed the good practice and initiatives, like a blended face to face and online offer, and direct student engagement and to ensure more students no matter their background or circumstance can have a positive experience of sport and physical activity.