Innovation is at the forefront of how Warriors and other Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs are continuing to deliver the HITZ programme despite the fact schools and colleges across England have closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme uses rugby’s core values to help young people not in education, training or employment (NEET) to gain new skills and qualifications, and progress into employment or further education. Last season 74% of participants made positive progressions.
Since schools closed earlier this month, with the support of official education provider SCL, Premiership Rugby clubs have set learners up on an online learning platform which provides Maths and English lessons, ongoing support with qualifications from tutors and the opportunity to participate in other activities that will contribute to their future. In addition, HITZ Officers at each club have planned a programme of virtual enrichment activities.
“We are currently engaging with the learners Monday to Thursday still, through Microsoft Teams we have a virtual lesson for about an hour and set them their work for the day,” said Warriors Community Foundation HITZ Officer Angus Laing.
“We are also setting weekly fitness challenges for the learners such as Plank, Wall Sit and other social media challenges too. Anything to keep them interacted and involved.
“We are going to be setting them some basic cooking meals as well to help with their life skills.”
Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Director Wayne Morris – the father of Warriors’ Academy scrum-half Callum – believes it is vital to ensure the young people involved with HITZ continue to feel engaged and supported in the programme despite the difficult situation we all currently find ourselves in.
“We’re keeping the programme running,” he said. “What we don’t want is for these young people to feel they have no way of continuing their progress. They have already put a lot of energy and effort in trying to get their qualifications.
“The relationship the learners form with the HITZ officers and tutors means they almost become parental or big brother figures for them and the HITZ officers want to continue taking a lead role in that.
“Making sure they remain in contact in this period and offer them support, whether it be around their own wellbeing or physical activity is of paramount importance.
“It is still early days using the new online system, however attendance is encouraging. HITZ officers are working hard to ensure there are a wide variety of activities in addition to educational lessons.
“What is evident in this unprecedented time, is that no HITZ learner has been abandoned. Although life has changed rapidly HITZ has provided stability and safety for its learners. Premiership Rugby and its clubs are continuing to support each learner and HITZ Officer to ensure HITZ can go on.”