Schools often focus on tomorrow’s athletes, putting a significant emphasis on sporting programs and developing professional athletes. Students at schools worldwide learn to play as a team, value healthy living and gain confidence on the field. What about students who want to continue in sports after their schooling? The statistics are not promising when it comes to high school athletes who will make a career of playing their chosen sport. For example, there is a .03% chance of a pro career for high school basketball players.

Many students dream of working in the competitive and exciting field of sports, but playing professionally is just one of many career options available. What about jobs like a coach, agent, nutritionist, sports psychologist, sports journalist, or any of the other exciting sports professions in the field? How does a student get experience and knowledge in the sports and fitness sector?

One international school in Shanghai is giving students interested in sports careers the opportunity to pursue sports learning early on. At the Western International School of Shanghai, students can begin career-related learning while still in high school. In a competitive field like sports, this early learning, experience, and professional development give students a leg up on the competition. The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) is a leading international school in Shanghai and the first and only full continuum IB World School in Mainland China offering the four programs of the International Baccalaureate (IB): the Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP), the Diploma Programme (IBDP) and the Career-related Programme (IBCP).

The Career-related Programme (IBCP) is a framework of international education that incorporates the vision and educational principles of the IB into a unique program specifically developed for students who wish to engage in career-related learning. IBCP gives students more options, creating a balanced and flexible curriculum. WISS has three possible IBCP pathways for students: Art & Design, Business & Sustainability, and Sports.

IBCP students at WISS who are passionate about sports get the academic rigor of DP courses with the real-world application of their career-focused learning. The program is a broad educational base for further training, education, and employment within the sports sector.

IBCP Sports at WISS include courses such as

  • Physiology of Sports,
  • Physiology of Fitness,
  • Sports Coaching,
  • Practical Individual Sports,
  • Fitness Testing for Sport & Exercise,
  • Assessing Risk in Sport and
  • Fitness Training & Programming.

Students also complete their DP classes and CP core and receive a BTEC National Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Sports.

Students attend IBCP Sports classes for around 7 hours a week. This time is split between theory and practical lessons that give students a good grounding in many important sports business areas. Students have a gym situated above their classroom to use for practical labs and investigative work. There is a real emphasis on putting theory into practice and learning vital skills and techniques within the health and fitness industry.

In addition to the theoretical knowledge students in IBCP Sports gain, they also have opportunities for hands-on learning. One such option gives IBCP Sports students the chance to learn and coach alongside the Stoke City FC Academy coaching team. The Stoke FC Academy at WISS is a premier youth football academy at the school that gives students football training with professional coaches from the Stoke City Football Club.

Most students at WISS who study IBCP Sports will continue onto further study at a university level. The school has collaborated with the University of Stirling, who now recognizes this unique program and accepts students with the IBCP (Sport) qualification into Year 1 of their 12 sports-related programs. Partnerships like these ensure IBCP students are prepared for success. However, university programs in sports are not the only option for students graduating from IBCP Sports. Some students will also go straight into work in the sports field, and some will even choose to follow their passion for playing sports.

Students interested in developing as athletes are also given the tools and opportunities to continue playing in university and perhaps even as professionals. WISS is the first and only school in China to partner with FirstPoint USA, a leading sports scholarship organization. Through this partnership, one eligible student is offered a FirstPoint USA scholarship annually.

While many schools around the world offer athletics programs that cultivate strong athletes, it is rare for high schools to provide the curriculum that gives them all of the tools to succeed in a sports career. For students passionate about sports and fitness, early educational opportunities in the field could help them reach their professional aspirations.