Youngsters involved in Premiership Rugby’s award-winning HITZ programme are being given a taste of life in the Royal Navy to help boost their personal development and employability skills.
Delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional member rugby clubs, HITZ uses rugby’s core values to support disillusioned teenagers back into education, training, apprenticeships and employment.
The Royal Navy delivered a successful activity to a group of learners at the Premiership Rugby final last season and are now looking to expand their involvement in the scheme over the next year.
Starting with London Irish and Harlequins, they will deliver eight sessions to each club which will include a mixture of classroom-based logistical activities and fitness workouts.
The first session took place at London Irish last week and London Irish HITZ officer Ainsley Campbell believes it has already had a positive impact on the confidence of the learners.
“We did a couple of activities focused on teamwork, communication and planning, so partly a fun classroom activity and then they had to build a tower,” he said.
“They received a set of instructions and then they had to build a tower out of Meccano. It was lots of fun and it was all about getting them to follow instructions and teamwork.
“They are skills that they can transfer into the classroom and they can also transfer into a working environment – a lot of the learners we work with struggle with communication and organisation.
“They engage with it really well as it’s different people coming in, it lightens up the room and it is real life experience with people who have been in many different situations.
“Every single pupil was engaged, even the ones who were shy came out of their comfort zones and managed to work together with the others, so it was a really good day.”
HITZ is targeted at 16-18-year-olds to improve their functional maths and English, develop valuable life skills and gain important qualifications alongside experience from work placements.
The programme also offers essential enrichment and sporting activities, such as the Royal Navy-led sessions, which supports their development by improving their mental and physical wellbeing.
As well as improving their communication and teamwork skills, the Navy sessions will also showcase the different roles available should any of the learners be interested in enrolling.
Lieutenant Commander Simeon Low, who helped deliver the session at London Irish, was full of praise for the HITZ programme and the way the learners engaged with the different activities.
“We’ve come in to work with the young people and look at the leadership, team management, organisational skill sets and all of those transferable skills,” he said.
“We want to try and bring those skills out of them and help them realise that they already have them and can use them in all different circumstances.
“All of the young people got involved straight away, bought into the scenario we put them in, including one based on rescuing a ship and the things that go around it.
“They have all had a go at presenting ideas to the teams and then they’ve done the practical elements as well, sharing ideas and communicating with each other.
“They have also taken it in turns to lead different sections so it’s all really good life skills that often the national curriculum, academic side doesn’t really cover, but are vital for adult life.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way the learners we worked with took on the challenge and interacted, my team will be happy to come back and keep doing this.”
Participants in HITZ regularly report an increase in resilience, self-confidence and aspiration, with more than 70 per cent going on to further education, training or employment.
Callum Clark, 16, from Reading, said: “We did some team building with the Navy to build our skills, including a scenario where there was a casualty on a ship and we had to locate them.
“It was really challenging, but interesting and it involved us working together as a team. We also had to build a communication tower from Meccano, so it’s been a really good opportunity.
“The HITZ programme is great because you get to communicate with others and make new friends, it also gives you opportunities that normal school doesn’t give you.”