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At the end of our latest Vocational Educational Training (VET) project we asked our local sending partners what impact those Finishing Strong opportunities had on their students.

Here is what they have to say:


Askham Bryan College

By Sharon Sheppard, Executive Director of Further Education.

The Finishing Strong Project has had such a positive impact on my students and College as it has provided unique opportunities for our students to gain real-life work experience and a fantastic insight into working and living abroad.  The Everything is Possible team as well as the main host providers are a pleasure to work with – they are so helpful and supportive and are very passionate and enthusiastic about what they do.

The Sweden project has allowed my students to experience an inspirational and educational journey where they have developed their knowledge and skills and participated in a range of activities such as hiking, orienteering, fishing, tracking wild reindeer in their natural environment and cooking traditional foods on open fires in Swedish Lapland.  The students also gained a broad insight into different cultures as well as enhancing their personal development and employability skills.

This project has provided my students with a diverse experience that they could not have experienced in the UK and this will give them a competitive advantage when looking at potential careers.  Also from a tutor prospective, this project has also allowed me to combine my love for the great outdoors with teaching and learning.  The Finishing Strong Project has allowed me to continue to share my enthusiasm, knowledge and experience with my students whilst enabling them to develop and gain vital skills to broaden their horizons and explore their future career options.




Askham Bryan College

By Matthew D. Williams

As part of our project, our Adventure Sports Students took part in a two week visit to Sicily. Whilst we were there we spent the first two days exploring Catania and the surrounding area. This allowed the students to get a real feel for the Sicilian lifestyle and to explore the rich heritage and mixing pot of cultures that has gone in to create Sicily as it is now. It also allowed our students to get to know their local guides and was a chance for the guides to assess the abilities of our students prior to the overnight expeditions. We spent a day gorge walking in the north of the island, putting some of the climbing and rope work skills that they have learnt as part of their course in to practice in a real world setting. Several days were then spent trekking on Mount Etna, each night staying in a Mountain Hut. Conditions were very difficult, the weather and the terrain were unlike anything that the students have dealt with before and it was an excellent experience for them to spend time in these mountains. We also had a multi-day hike in the Iblean mountains in Southern Sicily, led by another local guide. For the duration of this expedition we spent the days trekking along the Cava Grande de Cassibile and the nights wild camping in tents. Our objective for this journey was to travel from the mountains, along the valley to arrive at the coast. We were fully immersed in the Sicilian landscape and culture whilst trekking. All our supplies were bought in the local villages, we met farmers and shepherds, we tasted freshly made local cheeses, we experienced the fabulous local ice creams, we ate oranges fresh from the tree and spent time talking to local artisan craftsmen who were happy to tell us about the dry stone wall building traditions passed down from generation to generation. We were given a guided tour of a local hydroelectric power station and told the history of how it has been built and rebuilt to have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible. After the second multiday trek we were taken to a local nature reserve on some islands that are normally closed to the public. Our guide for that trip was a professor of geology from the University of Catania who fascinated our students with stories of the birth of Mount Etna and the development of the volcano through time. It was a chance to see and experience the geology that we had talked about in lectures in a way that truly unique.

Throughout our project we were hosted by staff from Etna finder, they were knowledgeable and enthusiastic from start to finish. In addition to the Etna Finder staff we also had several other local guides and instructors leading sessions and activities for us and one of the most valuable experiences from the student perspective was to experience how instructional styles and practices vary in a different part of the world. Two of the Etna Finder staff were two of my ex-students. It was inspirational for the group to see two of their former peers working overseas in such an incredible location. Several are already looking in to how they can secure overseas work and work experiences.

Living and working together in such close quarters has led to a real strengthening of relationships between the students, they have developed a greater degree of empathy and understanding of each other. They have improved their communication skills, they have practiced and embedded their practical activity skills in new and unique environments, they have had time to appreciate the real word implications and impacts of the theory units that they have studied in lectures and have all benefitted significantly from the visit.



Askham Bryan College

By Robert Youhill

From Askham Bryan College we took 10 learners on a project to Valencia. The project was designed to give the learners an insight to the football philosophy and Spanish culture. The project was a huge success, we worked with a Spanish Pro Football who were fantastically organised and with Carlos at the helm we felt safe and busy!

Carlos and SPF were great hosts and planned a full timetable for our learners. Football training, coaching and games, visits to stadiums, training grounds and a football match. The learners enjoyed all of the football based activities and also loved the cultural experiences with the paella making and the college trip; were we spent a morning with learners of the same age.

The learners were well equipped with football knowledge and coaching skills that they have developed over the time spent at Askham Bryan College. The learners were selected through a strict application process. To be eligible for the trip the learners had to be up to date with work, have good attendance, have a good time for the 1.5 mile run and just generally an appropriate learner.

Learners were asked to bring extra money to enhance the trip, or example the visit to Madrid.

As part of the coaching and leadership units the valuable experience from the project ties directly into those units through developing communication skills, understanding of different coaching philosophies and becoming more confident.

What better way to get a taste of what the learners thought about the project and what skills they developed than to ask them…

Harry Bissett:

  • I developed how to play against different styles of play
  •  I developed how to play in a Spanish team
  • I developed different drills and coaching styles
  • I learnt some Spanish language and culture
  •  I developed my skills on how to deal with disabilities and what drills to use with them


Dominic Taylor:

  • I developed better communication skills
  • I develop in all round football ability
  • I learnt how to speak the basics in Spanish
  • I learnt that tactics the Spanish teams use to do well


Callum Duff:

  • I developed different coaching techniques they use in Spain.
  • I learnt how to speak some Spanish.
  • I learnt the tactics the Spanish use.
  • I developed my technical skills in football.
  • I learnt some new Rondo drills to use and to play forward.


Working with the academies I believe the impact was a very positive one. The learners supporting the coaching of a local academy and while learning the Spanish coaching philosophy they also made friends with the children and swapped basic regional phrases.

For many of the learners it has opened their eyes up to different cultures, as many of them and never been abroad or had any experiences like it. Many of the learners hope to return and have now seen what it would be like living abroad. It will all impact them greatly and it is an experience they will never forget.


Everything is Possible

By Mark Swales

As part of preparation to take a group of sports students to participate in the Finishing Strong project, I paid a professional visit myself to see if my students could make a positive contribution to the project and also gain benefits for themselves. From what I experienced, I am confident that there will be many positive and beneficial outcomes from a student visit.

In Martinique my students will have the opportunity to coach and lead sessions in numerous sports including football, basketball and rugby. This will enhance their leadership skills and develop confidence as a coach, whilst challenging them as they prepare and deliver quality and differentiated sessions. All the planning and delivery will contribute to their Btec level 3 course units. To help prepare for this, students will undertake the Sports Leaders UK level 2 Award in Sports Leadership qualification. The delivery hours will also contribute to required work experience hours as well as satisfying Btec unit assessment criteria. The students will gain a fantastic insight into how community sport is ran across the island and will help contribute to the development of local young people. This will in turn give my students a fantastic experience and will learn about local cultures and history.

Another way that helps prepare the students is by linking in with our school sports partnership where they are volunteers at primary school sports events; local, city and county wide. They undertake many different roles with varying responsibilities which develops confidence of dealing with situations and other people. To also prepare them we will work closely with Everything is Possible to ensure they learn from what other colleges students have experienced, take on board the specialist guidance from EIP, complete tasks that have been set including Pre-departure training which will be greatly received and assessment. I see this work with EIP as an invaluable resource as we strive to bring the best out of this fantastic opportunity.

The impact that this project will create will be such a positive one as students from both sides will gain experience and develop many personal attributes. Confidence, communication, leadership and many other skills will be developed as the students participate in this project. This will be priceless as the students look at their next steps towards personal goals and career choices including university and job applications. It will form a strong impression on their CV’s and give them valuable life experiences which will set them aside from others. To show that you have volunteered to lead children in sport is a strong key factor but to do it in another country is priceless. Young local people will develop their sports skills as they will learn from the knowledge and experience of our leaders. This will enhance their playing ability which will help create future sports stars on the island and give them life enriching experiences.



Everything is Possible

By Matthew Hinchley

The visit to Valencia whilst York College were on their experience was highly beneficial in seeing how an experience with learners would look and feel on the ground. We were able to learn from and take ideas from the experiences they were undertaking and this will be invaluable in planning a high quality experience for our own learners.



The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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