Monday, June 21, 2021

New Coaching Framework at the heart of aquatics ambition in Scotland

Coaching is central to driving participation and better performances in aquatics activities, ensuring increased success across sport as well as supporting key social and economic objectives throughout Scotland.  With the termination of UKCC providing an opportunity to control our own decisions for coach development, Scottish Swimming is delighted to share the detail around a new Coaching Framework for aquatics in Scotland.

At all levels of Scottish Swimming, coaching plays a pivotal role, and in order to achieve our sustained ambitions for aquatics in Scotland we need to create a lasting legacy of coach development for the aquatics workforce in full-time, part-time and voluntary roles.

The Scottish Coaching Framework (SSCF) has been developed to deliver and create a cohesive, ethical, inclusive and valued coaching system where skilled teachers & coaches support swimmers at all stages of their swimming journey. The Framework recognises that coaches work across ‘domains’ in clubs and therefore provides a flexible approach to developing the specific needs of individual coaches.

The aquatics community has been hugely important to the process of developing the SSCF. The framework has been guided by the results of a coaching audit conducted in early 2020 and consistent feedback from coaches during various consultation events facilitated last year. The Framework identifies a number of strategic areas including coach education and we are currently prioritising work under the aim of ‘establishing a new, fit-for-purpose qualification structure’. 

Alan Lynn, National Coach for Scottish Swimming, commented

"Taking control of our coach education & development destiny is a key feature of the Scottish Swimming Coaching Framework. Charting our objectives for the next decade is a challenging and rewarding task, one which we relish. Having the confidence to do this as an organisation and across the aquatics community provides us with exciting opportunities to develop quality coaches. We look forward to working with stakeholders across the country to deliver on our ambitious plans."

The implementation of the SSCF is now well underway. In early 2021, Scottish Swimming appointed a team of consultants who supported us to appraise our current qualification offering and develop future learning programmes and qualification specifications. Throughout their work, the consultant team, led by Warwick Andrews of Logic Edge, engaged directly with over 50 coaches from across the disciplines and coaching domains and sought feedback from a further 167 coaches via survey. A number of key recommendations were produced for Scottish Swimming based on what coaches, coach developers and ‘system builders’ have said throughout the consultation period as well as integrating best practice and the most current thinking within coach education in the UK. 

Based on recommendations from this comprehensive review phase, Scottish Swimming are keen to maintain momentum therefore a ‘Qualifications Design Team’ has been established to develop our new Coach Education structure. Our immediate focus is the development of a new ‘Scottish Swimming Coaching Qualification’ (SSCQ) that will become the new industry standard for aquatics coaching, replacing the current Level 2 Award. We aim to begin piloting the SSCQ from Autumn 2021, with Poolside Assistant, Senior Coach and Coaching Mastery qualifications and programmes to follow.

Aside from Coach Education developments, 2021 has seen advances in other areas of the coaching system. TANDEM, a new programme that develops coaches and coach developers working with swimmers at different stages of the development pathway, has operated effectively despite the challenges of the pandemic. SS Connect – a series of digital workshops and content, designed to aid learning and communication – has also continued to come into its own throughout 2021. With over 20 sessions delivered to coaches relevant to their role and domain this year, we have been delighted with the sustained levels of engagement in the offering. These are just the first of many initiatives planned within the Framework and we look forward to introducing further opportunities in due course.