By: Zoe Hunter

Plans are in place for a new private school in Tauranga which will allow aspiring athletes to complete NCEA while learning the skills to help gain future sporting exposure.

Plans are in place for a new private school in Tauranga which will allow talented young athletes to complete NCEA while honing skills in their chosen sport.

United World Sports Academy is set to open in February next year and will operate from the Bethlehem Community Church Centre on Moffat Rd.

The school has applied to the Ministry of Education and hoped to take enrolments from early November to late December.

Co-founder and director of sport Robert Bethea said Year 7-13 students would be able to complete their formal education as well as build skills and a CV which would help them pursue a career in sport and gain placements at universities.

“We are going to be a school like everybody else but the difference is we are putting a different emphasis on how to get these kids exposure in the sporting world.”

The school would use the Te Kura online curriculum which provided the New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement curriculum – and the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education curriculum.

Sports offered would include badminton, BMX, circus arts, golf, skateboarding, table tennis and volleyball. It would also offer sports journalism, sports broadcasting and sports management.

Mr Bethea said the school’s recruitment programme would help to track and promote the student-athletes to recruiters at universities.

“Too often in New Zealand schools, talented student-athletes graduate and are not provided with the opportunity to attend a university here or abroad to continue with their sport while obtaining their university degree.

“We just want to make a difference in the world of sports. We do not want to lose a generation of athletes because people do not believe it is important.”

Mr Bethea said the school would add more sports to the curriculum over time.

A New Zealand registered teacher would assist students with their online learning programme. The rest of their day would be spent training in their sport, strength and conditioning or in the sports media or sports management programme classes.

Managing director Caroline Dafoe said students would study at the Bethlehem Community Church Centre and would use existing facilities to train.

“For example, if they are skateboarders, they would be out using the local skate parks and existing spaces.”

Ms Dafoe said student fees would be used to cover costs of using local facilities for other sports including badminton and table tennis.

Ministry of Education associate deputy secretary of operational delivery Suze Strowger said the United World Sports Academy’s application to become a private school was in the early stages of the registration process.

“The process, which is set by the Education Act, requires the applicant to meet a number of requirements covering premises, staffing, equipment, the curriculum, tuition standards and management,” she said.

“We do a number of site visits to help us to make an assessment of these.”

The academy could open once it received notice of provisional registration from the ministry.

Bethlehem Community Church Centre leadership team member Al Gourley said the idea had come at a good time following its commitment to expanding the centre in January.

“As a community church, we are supportive of anything that engages with the community.”

The academy will host an information evening at Bethlehem Church Community Centre on October 25.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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