5 years forward: implications for developing and retaining talent

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Looking to the future educational requirements of the sport and physical activity workforce, this panel session with a group of industry experts will explore a range of issues and identify solutions.

Assessing the sector as it currently stands, the panel will look at what is required immediately from the workforce and identify any implications foreseen in the short to medium future.

The impact of higher and technical education reforms and the effect it has had on the future of those looking to find work in our sector will be discussed with an emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best talent.  

Finally, how we as an industry can ensure that the education system is delivering people with the skills required for our sector to flourish and how the use of technology for the modern learner can be exploited will be explored with the group.

The panel will be comprised of:

  • Tim Barry, Head of Department of Medical Sciences and Sport Sciences

  • Hannah Crane, Director of Workforce and Employability, Street Games

  • Sarah Edmonds, Director of Quality and Standards, Active IQ

  • Chris Fennel, Leisure and Environmental Services Section Head, Watford Borough Council

  • Colin Huffen, Head of Education, CIMSPA

  • Tanya Kesterton, Head of Learning Solutions, Swim England

  • Matt Rhodes, Policy Manager, AoC Sport


Tim Barry, Head of Department of Medical Sciences and Sport Sciences, University of Cumbria

Tim has been working at the University of Cumbria (formerly St. Martin’s College) since 1997 and as Head of Department of Medical and Sport Sciences since 2013; with key research interests in physiology and biometrics of cricket, the use of technology in teaching and learning and physical activity in public health policy. His responsibilities as Head of Department involve the strategic development of Sport and Medical Imaging course provision, research and enterprise activity. He manages and leads quality assurance processes and student experience across Sport and NHS provision.

Tim is the establisher and project lead of UoC Active (the new University Sport and Health Development Unit) and holds memberships for numerous university committees and external bodies including: BASES, Active Cumbria Advisory Board and the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine (NCRRM) Stakeholder Board.

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Hannah Crane, Director of Workforce and Employability, StreetGames

Working first in finance, Hannah has worked in sport in for 11 years. Hannah is part of the Senior Leadership Team at StreetGames. As Director of Workforce and Employability Hannah leads on workforce development and commercial opportunities including European work for StreetGames.  

Hannah’s previous work background is in finance before moving into the skills, training and education industry. Since moving to work in sport Hannah has specialised in community sport and supporting National Governing Bodies to respond to policy and increase their work in non-traditional participants.

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Sarah Edmonds, Director of Quality and Standards, Active IQ

Sarah Edmonds is currently Director of Quality and Standards at Active IQ. A constant advocate for lifelong learning, she has been involved in education and training for over 20 years, with an interest in the validity of technical qualifications, and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Assessment from UCL‘s Institute of Education. She is currently on the board of directors of the Federation of Awarding Bodies which represents over 120 awarding organisations and exam boards across the UK, playing a key advisory role on behalf of this sector at policy level via frequent strategic conversations with regulators, funding agencies and the Department for Education.

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Chris Fennel, Leisure and Environmental Services Section Head, Watford Borough Council

Chris, a CIMSPA Chartered Member, is an experienced local government officer with over 25 years’ experience of the leisure community and environmental services sector. At Watford Council he is responsible for managing a number of major frontline service contracts, alongside the implementation of the Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework. A central part of Chris’s role is effective contact and relation management, working with a wide range of private and third sector partners to deliver quality, high profile leisure and community services on behalf of the council.

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Colin Huffen, Head of Education, CIMSPA

Colin has a wealth of experience in the sport, leisure and physical activity sector having spent the last ten years in leadership roles in organisations such as; AoC Sport, Sports Coach UK, Skills Active and British Swimming. Previous to this he was a senior manager within some of the country’s largest further education colleges.

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Tanya Kesterton, Head of Learning Solutions, Institute of Swimming (IoS)

Tanya is an experienced educationalist with over 20 years’ experience working with technology. As Head of Learning Solutions at the Institute of Swimming she leads the digital strategy and development of their extensive online and blended learning programme for aquatics teachers and coaches.

Prior to working in adult education, Tanya spent seven years working as an IT consultant where she built up expertise in bespoke system analysis and development. She recently completed an MA Education programme with a research focus on 21st century teaching and learning and a particular emphasis on blended coach learning.

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Matt Rhodes, Policy Manager, AoC Sport

Matt is Policy Manager at AoC Sport, having worked in Further Education and Sport for the last 17 years. Matt leads on AoC Sport’s  curriculum and employment strands through providing support and advice to colleges and partners on matters relating to sports policy and programmes, national and regional funding streams, new developments in the sector, and strategic planning.

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