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Sports Academies

We provide world-class coaching, high-performance facilities and expert sports-science support alongside academic and vocational programmes.

About our Sports Acadamies pathways

Activate Learning has an excellent track record of developing international athletes and coaches within Football, in partnership with Banbury United FC, Bracknell Town FC and Reading FC. In September 2019, we expanded our sports academy offer, to include Rugby Union in partnership with Wasps RFC, and rowing in conjunction with the Oxford Brookes University Boat Club.



The majority of students will undertake a BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science or Sport. There is provision for students who also want to explore studying A Levels in conjunction with their training.

Depending on their athlete development stage, students will have access to:

  • Sports therapy and rehabilitation provision
  • Strength and conditioning sessions
  • Performance analysis
  • Masterclasses

Programmes available

Banbury and Bicester College

City of Oxford College

Reading College


What could my future job look like?

Below are some examples of the possible careers and jobs you could go in to after completing a sports academy programme at Activate Learning colleges.

  • Professional sportsperson
  • Sports consultancy
  • Development manager
  • Teaching and coaching
  • Sports therapy
  • Sports media and journalism

The sports industry

Activate Learning run a variety of sports academies in partnership with leading sports institutions from across the country. Our learners have the opportunity to pursue a professional sporting career whilst studying to achieve a recognised qualification at one of our colleges. 

Since 2005, weekly sport participation in England has grown by two million to nearly 16 million. More people than ever before are now actively playing sports and this creates increased opportunities for coaches, trainers and sports development officers.

In 2018, there were approximately 14,000 full-time sports players employed full time in the UK. Additionally, there were roughly 29,000 full-time sports coaches, instructors, and officials in the UK.

Our student alumni 

Our students have gone on to have successful careers within professional sport, including Gareth McCleary and Matt Taylor who are both currently playing in the football championship for Reading FC and Bristol Rovers FC.  

Student spotlight: Des Buckingham

Former Activate Learning City of Oxford College student, Des Buckingham’s interest in football coaching has taken him to a career at the other side of the world. Des, who studied the Football Education Programme in Sports Coaching and Exercise Science at Level 3, is now the Wellington Phoenix FC Manager/Head Coach and previously was working as goalkeeping and assistant coach to the New Zealand side. The three-year contract follows time spent as a Football Development Manager in New Zealand, where he was responsible for player and coaching development.

After graduating from City of Oxford College, Des landed a part-time role as a football coach at Activate Learning.

The opportunity with Activate Learning is one of my career highlights. This progressed into a full-time role which was a very rewarding and exciting time for me at 23-years-old. I was working towards my next coaching qualification, which the college supported me with throughout the next two years.

He is currently in the process of completing his outfield coaching Pro Licence, and holds a UEFA outfield A Licence and a UEFA goalkeeping A Licence.

Our partnerships

Activate Learning has an excellent track record of developing international athletes and coaches within Football, in partnership with Banbury United FC and Reading FC.

From September 2019, we are proud to be expanding our sports academy offer, now including Rugby Union in partnership with Wasps RFC and Rowing in conjunction with the Oxford Brookes University Boat Club.