Award-winning academy becomes first online school accredited to prestigious sports scheme

Award-winning Minerva’s Virtual Academy has become the first ever online school to be accredited to a scheme designed to support the welfare of young sportspeople.

Minerva has been accredited by the Sport England-backed Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) initiative. TASS helps young sportspeople on the talent pathway to gain qualifications whilst pursuing their sport, following other interests, and furthering their personal development.

By formally recognising an institution’s commitment to supporting student-athletes, the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme aims to allow athletes to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sport.

Referenced within the Education section of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care in Sport Review, published in April 2017, accreditation shows that a school, college or university has the ability to support students following a dual career route.

Backing the scheme, she said: “I believe we have a duty to help young people to achieve their potential, whilst prioritising their welfare, wellbeing and education. For the vast majority of athletes, skills and formal qualifications are needed to help them find alternative careers, either alongside their sporting activities or once their sporting days are over.

“For me the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is a vitally important measure to ensure all athletes have the chance to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded approach to life.”

Through accreditation, Minerva Virtual will be an important extension of the network of education establishments that already partner with TASS, delivering core support services to more than 600 student-athletes each year.

For student-athletes, the academic flexibility policies may mean they have the opportunity to access online notes or resources, are able to arrange catch up sessions with teaching staff, or even reschedule deadlines or exam dates in exceptional circumstances.

For Minerva, the recognition of becoming a TASS Dual Career Accredited Site is expected to attract a greater number of talented athletes, as well as helping build connections with other sporting institutions.

Fabian Spiess, Elite Athlete Education Officers at Minerva, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this accreditation, which builds on the work we are already doing through our High Performance and Wellbeing Club.

“We have students from nine different countries representing 10 different sports in our elite athletes’ group and we believe it is inherent on us to look after their welfare in every aspect of their school lives.”

TASS National Director, Guy Taylor, said: “We’re delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to colleges and universities across England.

“Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that’s why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education too.

“We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the Accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution.

“Congratulations to the successful institutions and we look forward to working alongside many more outstanding colleges and universities in the near future.”

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