Two years after Stirling became the first University in Scotland to deliver a postgraduate diploma as part of the prestigious United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 Award, the first cohort of coaches have successfully qualified.
The Level 4 award - a new coaching qualification which aims to increase the standard of the country’s high performing coaches - was combined with a part-time Stirling postgraduate diploma, developed in partnership with British Canoeing, to give experienced coaches a platform to develop as leading trainers in their sport.
With five of the six places on the two-year course funded by sportscotland, one experienced coach supported by the sporting body has gone on to complete a Masters in Performance Coaching (Paddle sport) at the University, graduating with distinction.
Stephen Macdonald has worked as a paddlesport coach for the past 25 years, teaching white water kayak, open canoe, slalom kayak, canoe and sea kayak and currently runs an outdoor adventure programme.
Stephen said: "The Level 4 was a wonderful opportunity to engage with academic research and bring it into the practical context of day to day coaching. Completing the Masters provided the chance to take a critical look at coaching practice and how one’s philosophy of learning, impacts on coaching behaviour. This study has had a real impact on how I think about my coaching practice.”
Justine Allen, Programme Director Postgraduate Coaching Programmes at the University of Stirling, said: “This programme was the first of its kind in Scotland, developed specifically to work with the UKCC Level 4 certification process to develop the very best coaches in the country.
“Two years after launching, it is fantastic to see the diploma support and challenge a number of experienced, professional coaches in their work with sports persons and coaches of all levels. As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, innovative courses like these help us lead the way in delivering the best for Scottish sport.”
Another member of the group, Doug Cooper, is now also working towards a Masters qualification. Doug works as a senior instructor at sportscotland’s Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge, using the prestigious qualification in a non-competitive environment.
Lara Cooper, Level 4 Programme Director at British Canoeing, said: “It’s been a fantastic journey for us over the past couple of years; the first group of students all worked extremely hard and it was a pleasure to see them all grow through the process. The expertise at the University of Stirling helped us build a course we are really pleased with and is taking our knowledge and understanding in the sport to new levels.”
Stuart Ferrier, Head of Coaching at sportscotland, which invested £12,000 to help provide scholarships to candidates of the course, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this collaboration with the University of Stirling, Scottish Canoe Association, and British Canoeing by investing in these coaches and helping them achieve UKCC Level 4 qualification.
“sportscotland is working with our partners across the sector to build a world-class sporting system for all, and increasing the numbers of highly qualified performance coaches is integral to that process. We send our congratulations to these newly-qualified coaches.”