The Skills Academy started back in 1997 as a Soccer School but in recent years, the Academy has recognised the importance of offering a range of coaching services for schools and it’s customers.
Many of the coaches are now qualified not only as FA football coaches but also as Tag Rugby, Junior Athletics and Orienteering coaches with a view to gaining qualifications in Basketball, Netball and Cricket.
The Skills Academy has even hired coaches specific to the particular sport to give children the best opportunity of developing their sporting capabilities.
A number of schools have already taken up this offer by including Skills Academy Tag Rugby and Athletics coaching as part of their curriculum. These sessions have also been running successfully at schools as extra curricular activities.
“As a youngster, I was so into football that I didn’t spend time learning about other sports- something I wish I’d done a little more. I think it’s vital that children take up sport whatever it may be. Even if they don’t become top footballers, rugby players or athletes, it is still something which will help them to get used to a healthy and active lifestyle which will hopefully benefit them as adults.” - Mike Delaney
Case Study: Warren Road School
Mike Delaney’s Skills Academy has been associated with football coaching at Warren Road School since 1998. The school under the guidance of the Head teacher was keen to raise the profile of all sports and in particular to expand the number of after school sports clubs it could offer to pupils. Football had always been popular at Warren Road with coaching by staff and parents on a voluntary basis. After meeting and talking with Mike, it became clear that his philosophy on teaching sporting skills to children agreed with our one, which is that all children should have the opportunity to learn new skills in a happy and stress free environment.
The Skills Academy, directed by Mike in conjunction with the staff at school became established as one of the most popular extra curricular activities at the school. The standard of coaching was noticeably of a high level with coaches maintaining their professional manner and their reputation of being punctual, well organised and well suited to making football enjoyable for young children. The sessions were of obvious benefit to the children's football skills, their level of fitness and over all confidence.
A direct progression for youngsters attending Skills Academy sessions was for them to move on to training with the school team where specialist coaching was provided by the Skills Academy. Children wishing to play Sunday football, were pointed towards local clubs by Mike. Many players went on to join Orpington Rovers and Orpington Colts. Mike was quick to notice the potential in a group of 5-6 year olds at the school. He and his staff continued to nurture these boys through Skills Academy clubs preparing them for the period when they would play for the school team. In 2003, the school hired Mike to manage/ coach the school team. The team in this season went on to win the cup (their first 11 a side trophy in 10 years) and finish 2nd in the league.
Meanwhile, Mike's promising group were preparing for their first taste of 11 a side football and in the following season they went on to become the most successful team ever, winning every single match they played including the league, cup, small sided tournaments and regional 5 a sides.
Mike advised the school to send 8 players forward for district trials and all 8 players were picked. They all played in the regular starting line up for the successful district side that year. Two of the boys also played regularly for Kent in the same season.
The Skills Academy School of Excellence squad set up last year includes 9 of the Warren Road side who had attended Skills Academy sessions since the age of 5.
Warren Road School still benefits from excellent Skills Academy coaching programmes with the Girls football teams also having successful seasons in recent years. Sessions currently running at the school are: Girls lunchtime club, after school clubs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a Saturday morning club which averages over 60 children weekly.
Last year the Skills Academy helped to set up an inter schools 5 a side tournament and every year since 2001, Mike has performed his Skills Shows at the summer fete helping to raise money for the school and promote Skills Academy courses.
"The school team still receives specialist coaching from Skills Academy staff and the current team have a 100% winning record so far this season." - Mike Smart (former Warren Road School Governor)
"I would EMPHATICALLY recommend The Skills Academy to every school" - Giles Platt - School Sports Coordinator
The Skills Academy has an outstanding relationship with many of the schools within the Bromley Borough. For some years now The Skills Academy has been running hugely successful programmes in many Schools and at the same time been able to maintain interest and excitement, whilst continuing growth with no backing from local government funding. Not only does The Skills Academy run Lunchtime, After School, and Curriculum sessions in football but it has begun to coach other sports in these Schools too.
At present all core Skills Academy Coaches are qualified in Tag Rugby. The Skills Academy already run various Tag Rugby courses in a number of Schools. This has been a very new development for the Company, however the interest is very high. All core coaches also hold Qualifications in Children’s Athletics. In the summer months, it is likely that The Skills Academy will be running a number of Athletics courses in local schools. Again there is much interest in the wake of 2012 and The Skills Academy feels it valuable to bridge the gap between Primary Schools’ sports days and the introduction of Athletics in Secondary Schools. With these Skills Academy courses in place, children will have a better idea of Athletics once they reach higher education, making the leap from Primary and Secondary less alien.
The Skills Academy also has a very intricately designed Curriculum Program, designed in order to be sold as an educational aid for teachers. The Curriculum program has been thoroughly executed and has been the focus of a great deal of development plans.
"I was attending an event at The Priory Leisure Centre, organised by The School Sports Partnership, in 2002. Mike Delaney from The Skills Academy was performing a football freestyle show at the event and I was impressed with the level of skill it took, as well as the level of interest it sparked. After some enquiry, I realised that Mike was regarded as one of the world's best 'freestylers' and was interested to hear that he grew up in this area and provided a highly respected soccer school - The Skills Academy. I myself work at St. Mary Cray School, which is situated in one of the poorer areas of The London Borough of Bromley. I contacted Mike and The Skills Academy, with a view of giving the children at our school the same opportunities as children elsewhere. Children that attend our school generally come from low-income homes and therefore have less opportunity. I found the program set up for a Skills Academy club, very in depth and yet very reasonably priced. Mike agreed to start an after school club, held for the children of our school."
The Skills Academy has designed a resource in order to assist schools in effective teaching of football as a P.E topic. The strangest thing The Skills Academy found, was that it had never been attempted, not even by the FA. The size of the document and effort involved had clearly put all companies off.
The Skills Academy curriculum programme provides each year group (from reception to year 6/ Foundation through to Key Stage 2), with ten, detailed lesson plans; to allow for a term’s teaching. Each lesson plan is specifically designed to demonstrate clear progression throughout the increasing years. A different skill is worked on each week and each lesson is broken down into a fun warm up, drills section, a football related game and a cool down to finish. Each lesson plan includes clear pictures demonstrating the skills being performed to ensure understanding.
The Skills Academy used the strands of the curriculum to make the programme a more resourceful tool.
Using the strand of knowledge and understanding of fitness and health, the Skills Academy designed ten different talks on health topics to accompany each lesson. Each lesson plan includes a talk on one of the related health topics. Colourful clear posters are provided with the program to assist the talks, with clear statements and posters to aid understanding.
Using the strand of evaluating and improving fitness, each lesson is accompanied by a self-assessment card. These are for the children at the completion of the lesson to analyse their performance. The cards consist of five clear statements with a simple tick/number response system. These will prove a useful tool to demonstrate first hand the child’s individual improvements throughout the course.
As stated earlier, P.E is the only subject that educates the whole child. The Skills Academy Curriculum Programme provides examples of how it can be used to benefit other areas of the curriculum.
On the next section is an example of a lesson plan and Self Assessment card, taken from the Curriculum Programme. Curriculum sessions always begin with an opening talk on various parts of the body. Children are shown posters, which cover a minimum of five points relating to the workings of the body part they are discovering.