BTEC Higher Nationals Case Study: Matt Chilvers
Matt studied an HND in Sport and Leisure Management at Loughborough College, and then progressed to top-up his qualification to gain a BA (Hons) degree in Sport Management.
Progressing from a BTEC Level 3
Sport has always been one of Matt’s passions, and before studying his HND, he completed a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport Exercise Fitness, giving him a strong foundation of knowledge to build on. He found the transition from the Level 3 to the HND (covering levels 4 and 5) a smooth process due to similar assessment styles using coursework-based assignments throughout.
Choosing a BTEC Higher National
After completing his BTEC Level 3, Matt decided to progress onto the HND for a few reasons. Firstly, his tutor recommended he continue his studies with a qualification style he was used to, and because Matt has a preference for coursework over exams, the HND provided a natural progression route that played to his strengths.
Being able to continue his studies at the same institution also meant that Matt could learn in an environment familiar to him, with a great support network. As a student with Autism, Matt found that the tutors were a great support, and learning in smaller class sizes was an effective way to develop his knowledge in Sports.
The Work-Based Experience Unit was one of Matt’s highlights throughout studying his HND, as this gave him the opportunity to work at Sport in Desford. As a regular Tennis player and Volunteer at the centre, Matt was familiar with the community sports charity and the support they provide, meaning the work experience placement was a chance for Matt to give back. During his placement, he learned about admin responsibilities such as funding and updating the website. He also got involved with new sports including Pilates, Karate, and Gym. Since completing his placement, Matt now works as a Self-Employed Tennis Coach, teaching at Market Harborough Lawn Tennis Club and Sport in Desford.
“The HND was structured and delivered very well, and the support I have received has been great. It has opened up new job opportunities for me as I now work with the same organisation I completed my work-based experience unit at.”
The HND also lead Matt to other opportunities, such as being selected to speak on the Sport and Recreation Youth Advisory Panel, as well as becoming a Volunteer Member of the National Youth Sport Forum where Matt advocated to support PE being more inclusive and accessible. Recognising his hard work and determination throughout his HND studies, Matt has been the proud winner of various education awards and celebrated for his work in the Sports sector. His impressive list of awards include:
- 2018: BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero for the East Midlands
- 2018: Finalist for the National Unsung Hero Award
- 2019: HND Student of the Year (Business Management Department) at Loughborough College
- 2019: Runner-up at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Higher Education Student of the Year
- 2019: Received a Diana Award for changing the perception of disability sport
- 2020: British Education Award Winner (Vocational Category) in England Zone 2
- 2020: Tennis Leicestershire Volunteer of the Year
Topping up to gain a degree
After successfully completing his HND in Sport and Leisure Management, Matt then continued at Loughborough College for an extra year to top-up his qualification and gain an undergraduate degree. He now has a BA (Hons) Sport Management Degree, which enabled him to take his knowledge to the next level.
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Current roles and training
Matt now works at Special Olympics Great Britain as an Athlete Leadership Development Officer and is the first athlete with an intellectual disability to work on the team. He has been a Special Olympics athlete since 2011, having competed in two National Games, and still currently trains and competes in Tennis. During his HND, Matt had to create and present as part of his projects, which has helped to improve his confidence in his current role where he presents Leadership Training to athletes on how to be a leader in sport, helping them to become more employable and providing support in their sporting careers. His current role is hybrid, so Matt gets the advantages of working from home, as well as practical work with colleagues and athletes.
When he is not working for Special Olympics Great Britain, Matt is also a self-employed tennis coach teaching at Sport in Desford and Market Harborough Tennis Club, running after-school sessions specifically for children with intellectual disabilities aged between 8 – 16. He also works part-time as a Sports Coach at the Northwest Leicestershire District Council..
“Having a higher education qualification has helped me to stand out from the crowd because it shows a commitment to the sector I’m in now. In my job at Special Olympics Great Britain, I do my best to learn, improve and develop, and my journey with Pearson BTEC has helped me look at learning as a lifelong skill.”
Volunteering is something that Matt would highly recommend to anyone looking to go into the sports sector, as it helped him to gain practical experience and kick-start his career.
He also advises anyone studying an HND to ask for help as tutors are there to support and guide you through your development. Although the course may feel daunting at first with a lot to cover, tutors will break the course content down and ensure you leave feeling confident in your knowledge. Matt’s final words of wisdom are to “believe in yourself, you may be able to achieve more than you thought you could”.