Orienteering in Schools
Orienteering is becoming increasingly popular in schools, particularly in primary schools where children are taught the basics from a very early age. It helps to stimulate learning and allows the children to have fun at the same time. The British Schools Orienteering Association (BSOA) was set up in 1995 to promote and support the development of schools orienteering and ultimately increase participation nationally. The BSOA has close links to the sports NGB, British Orienteering which provides regional Participation Managers to assist schools in setting up orienteering programmes that meet national curriculum requirements and training/ qualifications for teachers.
There are several qualifications you can achieve if you want to teach or coach orienteering. These qualifications are currently being restructured to fit into two separate pathways, the first pathway is aimed at teaching both children and adults at a beginner level, and the second pathway is mainly for experienced orienteers looking to teach at a higher level with a professional qualification.
Young Leaders Award
Aimed at 14-19 year olds, the Young Leaders Award enables the holder to coach basic orienteering skills in an enclosed environment under the supervision of a qualified teacher or tutor with a Teaching Orienteering Part 1 Certificate or UKCC Level 1 Certificate.
Teaching Orienteering Part 1
This certificate provides the training to enable the holder to teach orienteering at a basic level. Aimed at teachers, school workers and outdoor activity centre employees, it will demonstrate how to conduct orienteering sessions outdoors in a fun and exciting way, and teaches basic map work such as orientation, common symbols and the importance of north. Although the training isn't assessed, you'll be awarded a certificate of attendance to show that you have the knowledge to lead sessions.
Teaching Orienteering Part 2
Unsurprisingly, this is next step up from the Teaching Orienteering Part 1 certificate. This is for teachers and outdoor centre workers who want to coach at a higher level, and teach more advanced orienteering skills such as compass use, contours, distance understanding etc, in preparation for external examinations and competitions. As with the Part 1 certificate, this training is not assessed.
UKCC Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Orienteering
This qualification takes place over 3 days which includes 2 days of training and 1 day of assessment, the course itself is very practical allowing you to work on your coaching skills throughout the training. The course also contains elements of risk assessment and safety which will enable you to lead sessions without supervision providing you work in a safe area such as school grounds.
UKCC Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Orienteering
This qualification is only suitable for those with existing experience of coaching orienteering and will allow you to teach the more advanced skills and modern techniques in all areas apart from exposed or mountainous terrain. You will also be suitably qualified to teach at local orienteering clubs and coach athletes who compete in local and regional events. Pre requisites include a minimum of 18 years of age, First Aid qualified, and you must hold the Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Orienteering. The course can be gruelling, with over 20 hours of training, 20 hours of home study, 6 further coaching sessions with a mentor, as well as 12 hours of assessment before you can be awarded the qualifications. The aim for any participant will be to complete the award within 6-9 months, although you are allowed up to 2 years!
For those looking to specialise in performance and higher level coaching, a UKCC Level 3 and 4 qualification will be added at a later date.
Training courses and assessment take place at designated venues around the country, usually based at an Outdoor Activity Centre which already provides orienteering as a general activity. Full details, prices and booking information can be found on the British Orienteering website www.britishorienteering.org.uk/page/training_courses
You may also consider attending an NNAS Course (National Navigation Award Scheme) (http://www.nnas.org.uk/), which is a personal performance skills scheme aimed at improving your navigational ability in the countryside. There are 3 awards, Bronze includes navigation using paths and tracks plus basic map and compass work, Silver builds on the bronze award and includes more accurate compass work to navigate someway off the beaten track and cross country, and Gold adds techniques for dealing with difficult contours and terrain.
What Employment Opportunities are available to me?
Employment opportunities are fewer in number than many other sports particularly if you're only planning on coaching orienteering. Your best chance is to gain employment at an Outdoor Activity Centre offering a variety of activities to school and private groups throughout the year. Most activity centres will provide an orienteering activity particularly if they cater for schools so working here will allow you to use your qualifications and experience. If you manage to enrol on an apprenticeship or trainee scheme, you may find that your employer enters you into the orienteering awards automatically in which case they will be paid for you. You will always be able to find volunteer work with local orienteering clubs helping them with coaching and competitions, and building your experience at the same time. It's worth keeping in touch with British Orienteering as well because they often look for qualified individuals to become Coach Education Tutors and Assessors, training and assessing the next crop of orienteering coaches working their way through the various award schemes just like you did. To find out more about becoming an orienteering instructor, we spoke to Josh: