​Scottish Rugby launches new education partnerships to boost rugby activity in the north

​Scottish Rugby launches new education partnerships to boost rugby activity in the north

Scottish Rugby has today confirmed new partnership agreements with both Aberdeenshire Council and the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) to support and deliver increased rugby and physical activity for secondary school pupils and adults in further and higher education in the north of Scotland.

The first of the partnerships is a pilot programme with Aberdeenshire Council’s education team, which will see four Rugby Development Officers and three Community Coaches operating from local rugby clubs deliver a 16-week rugby programme as part of the curriculum for pupils in S1 to S4 across 17 state schools.

Whilst Rugby Development Officers in the area have been working with local schools for a number of years, this is the first time a specially designed rugby programme will be delivered as an ongoing part of the curriculum in the local authority. It will provide enhanced opportunities for young people to focus on their health and wellbeing, and enjoy outdoor learning working in partnership with local communities.

The programme will run for three academic years and is expected to reach 10,000 pupils across Aberdeenshire.

The programme has been designed in consultation with P.E teachers in senior leadership roles across the north of the country, and aligns to the National Improvement Framework, the Health and Wellbeing Framework and the Curriculum for Excellence.

The programme will also provide personal development opportunities for staff and senior pupils to assist in the delivery of rugby activity, aligning to Scottish Rugby’s Coach Education Pathway.

Vincent Docherty, Head of Education for Aberdeenshire Council explains: “This additional investment in our school communities is a real boost for schools across Aberdeenshire. The programme builds on already strong partnership working and will help us to develop all aspects of our curriculum for physical education. We are very pleased to be part of this and delivering enhanced experiences and outcomes for our young people.”

Left to right: Lisa-Jane Dock (Breathing Space) with Professor Todd Walker (UHI), Heather Innes (President of HISA) and Gav Scott (Scottish Rugby) at the official launch of the Scottish Rugby and UHI partnership agreement.

The new partnership with UHI will see Scottish Rugby support the delivery of activities including contact and non-contact formats of rugby for men and women, coaching and match officiating, plus mental and physical wellbeing projects and initiatives.

These activities will initially be delivered from the Inverness campus, with the ambition of rolling out delivery to other UHI campuses.

In addition to this, Scottish Rugby is also working closely with the UHI Student Association (HISA) and are currently developing plans for Men’s and Women’s teams to enter the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) league.

This longer-term development will be supported by a Scottish Rugby funded Community Coach/Development Officer.

Scottish Rugby has also supported UHI to deliver Tartan Touch for students and staff this summer as an alternative non-contact version of the sport.

Prior to the formal partnership agreement, Scottish Rugby supported 25 HNC students to gain their Coaching Essentials qualification and will now help students gain qualifications in Mental Health First Aid training this summer.

To further support student’s mental wellbeing, Scottish Rugby’s official partner Breathing Space have supported the UHI partnership by gifting a cast iron bench to UHI. This bench will provide a quiet space for anyone who needs it and will include a plaque with contact details for wellbeing support.

This bench which will be the first of many to be installed throughout Scottish Rugby’s Caledonia North clubs and communities.

Professor Todd Walker, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UHI said: “This new, formal agreement will facilitate close collaborative working and academic links across further and higher education in the region and the sport of rugby. UHI looks forward to creating more opportunities for people across the region through this wonderful sport.”

Gav Scott, Director of Rugby Development at Scottish Rugby said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with both Aberdeenshire Council and the University of Highlands and Islands. These two programmes are set to provide a greatly enhanced offering of physical activity and learning opportunities to many people across the north of Scotland who may never have accessed our sport before.

“The Caledonia North region – which spans from Aberdeenshire, Moray and into the Highlands and Islands – has long standing connections to our game as seen in the recent centenary celebrations of Highland Rugby Club, but there are also many emerging clubs and teams, which is reflective of already strong work in the region to increase playing opportunities, and we must ensure that this can continue. This is why being able to deliver rugby as part of the curriculum or as part of someone’s higher education journey is so important.

“On behalf of Scottish Rugby I would like to thank Aberdeenshire Council and the University of Highlands and Islands for their partnership, and I look forward to seeing the continued growth of our game across this unique and vibrant region.”

Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone service for anyone in Scotland, experiencing low mood, anxiety or depression. It’s operated by NHS 24 and can be contacted on 0800 838 587. You can find more information at www.breathingspace.scot

More information about Breathing Space and Scottish Rugby can be found, HERE.

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