Ruth Tolson

Job title Higher Education Sport Lecturer

Employer University Centre Leeds

Always believe in yourself and your own abilities and follow the path that YOU want

What is the role of a Higher Education Sport Lecturer?

As a Higher Education Sport Lecturer I lecture to Level 4, 5 and 6 students across 3 different pathways (PE, Coaching and Performance). I deliver 3-hour sessions to students across the levels on a variety of topics including Sports Rehabilitation, Coaching Practice, Work Related Learning, Contemporary Issues and Policy and Practice. The sessions contain a mixture of classroom and practical based sessions.

What has been your career path to this role? 

I qualified as a PE Teacher in 2008 and worked in secondary schools for 7 years before I left and changed career and worked on cruise ships as a youth worker for 18 months, in this time I also worked as a supply teacher, assistant programme leader for NCS the Challenge and Site manager for Kings Sports Camps.

I eventually applied for my current job at University Centre Leeds as I knew I still wanted to be in education but fancied a change from secondary, luckily I already had a Master’s degree so was qualified and I due to my previous experience in schools my teaching and learning knowledge was also high.

3 great things about working in Higher Education:

  1. Conducting research
  2. Teaching sessions and seeing the creativity unfold due to students input
  3. Learning from my students

What skills and knowledge do you need in your role?

Sports Lecturing requires a number of different skills for example – communication – students are from all over the world so there may be a language barrier or some students learn in different ways so it is important to be flexible and creative when giving instructions or setting tasks.

I have to be able to work under pressure especially with assessment deadlines and be very disciplined with planning as the sessions are so long and the content must be heavily researched and referenced.

I need to be able to be fun and maintain a strong learning environment whilst remembering that the students are technically grown-ups, it is important to find a balance of building positive working relationships with the students whilst maintaining a professional manner.

I need to have a strong foundation of subject knowledge of every module I am teaching and be able to provide strong industry based examples across all 3 disciplines that I teach.

What experience does a career teaching in Higher Education require?

This job requires a PGCE although it is possible to get into without one and then work towards it part time alongside employment. It also requires a Master’s Degree for you to teach at Level 6.

You would need strong sporting background either as a player, teacher, and gym based so your knowledge can be transferred over. For example, I teach mainly PE modules, as my background is in that industry so I can use my experiences to pass on knowledge to my students.

If you had one bit of advice you would tell young people what would it be?

BE CONFIDENT! Always believe in yourself and your own abilities and follow the path that YOU want, not what someone else may want for you. Do not live to make other people happy – if they truly have your best interests at heart, they will support you no matter what!

Related Section: Careers in Teaching and Coaching