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View From Ryton: - Coventry City's Rob Heath explains how the club educates players off the pitch as well as on it

30 December 2015

The club doesn't just educate in football but also provides the qualifications needed to progress in life outside football...


It’s impossible to stick with this career path unless you have the passion for it I guess!

I was a PE teacher for seven years at North Leamington School, running the Duke of Edinburgh award, the BTEC Sport qualification and eventually becoming a College Leader before jumping into this role.

I now oversee all aspects of education and welfare, but mainly with the apprentices and their apprenticeship run by the LFE. This includes BTEC and NVQ qualifications as well as coordinating the Level Two coaching award.

I also run the pre-16 education school release programme, which involves 75+ different Academy players from U11-16 who have various afternoons off to train, so I’m in regular contact with their schools to make sure they’re still progressing academically.

I teach around 10 hours a week on the apprenticeship which is pretty rare as there aren’t many other Heads of Education that still teach at all, but I enjoy it. I am supported by two tutors who cover pre-16 and post-16 education sessions each week.

Life skills are also vital and I get companies in to talk about a range of topics including finance, addiction, mental health and social media as well as career opportunities away from football.

It’s quite a difficult balance, as you have to accept the ultimate goal for the players is to be a footballer, but I have to push the importance of education because even if they make it they’ll still be retiring around the age of 30-35 and they can’t all be pundits! 

We work a lot on what they’ll do afterwards, or if they get injured or if they don’t make it. “What are you going to do if...” is the question I constantly ask.

It sounds negative, but I want the best for all of them and you have to cover every eventuality.

We are limited as the LFE set the apprenticeship and while it’s a good process, there’s little flexibility to adapt. Eleven hours of education a week has to be delivered and squeezing it all in can be difficult due to our small squad. But I always try to support the boys missing education to travel with the first team or U21’s as it’s a great opportunity for them. 

I’ve just had to learn that education isn’t the priority but that is the most difficult thing as a teacher!

Besides from education, there is a lot on the welfare side I have to take care of too – from managing the digs to personal problems for each player. 

When everything is going well it’s great. There are some days when the lads are difficult but I enjoy seeing those who didn’t get contracts progressing in life as much as I do seeing the likes of James Maddison making strides in the first team. Importantly, they’re all polite and respectful young men. 

I like to think they genuinely appreciate what I did for them as apprentices, even if they didn’t at the time! In fact, Ivor has recently been in touch for support towards a degree, Ryan Haynes and Jack Finch too. Both boys who wanted to do little as possible at the time but can now see the relevance!

Ultimately, I want to see all our young players excel and be happy regardless of what path they’re on and being able to be a part of this makes me very proud.

We’re always looking for more people to get involved with the club on both the education and the accommodation side of things. If there are any current or retired teachers/tutors who would be interested in getting involved with the programme please contact me at

We’re also always looking for Coventry-based people to get involved in providing digs for the future footballers of Coventry City in the Academy. If you have room and would like more information please email me, all responses are hugely appreciated!

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