Meet your Head of Subject: Jamie French
With over two decades of experience of coaching and teaching at both the university and national sporting bodies, Jamie French works closely with students to ensure they graduate as highly skilled and inclusive Physical Education practitioners.
Jamie began his time at the university as an undergraduate student on the BA (Hons) Physical Education course in 1996, and started teaching as a part-time lecturer while completing his Masters in 2000. He’s now Head of Subject for Physical Education courses, balancing his time at the university with coaching athletic stars of the future with England Athletics and the British Athletics Para Academy.
Find out more about Jamie and what to expect from Physical Education courses in our Q&A below.
First of all, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your time at the Carnegie School of Sport?
“I applied to a Physical Education degree at what was then Leeds Metropolitan University in 1996, so I’ve been embedded on this course for nearly 25 years. When I graduated, I started a Masters here and got a part-time lecturing job at the university while I studied.
“I’ve been working here for over 20 years now. I’ve been a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Course Leader, Course Director and Head of Subject, which is my role currently. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve loved every minute of working and studying here.”
Outside of the university, you work as a coach for England Athletics and British Athletics. How did you become involved in that?
“I’ve been an athletics coach since I was sixteen. I worked my way up the coaching ladder, coached a number of students to national university championships, and because of that success, I was asked to become the England Athletics North of England Regional Jumps Lead, where I help support jump coaches throughout the region
“As a result of that, I was asked to work for the British Athletics Para Academy. So, there’s the Paralympians, and then there’s the developing athletes who are looking to make that step up. I work with that group. I’ve spent about three years working with them.”
How do you use your coaching experience when you are teaching at the Carnegie School of Sport?
“Within a Physical Education degree, there are a number of areas that lend themselves well to learning more about coaching. Athletics as a sport is a key discipline area that Physical Education teachers would teach to their people.
“As an entity, athletics remains an important part of Physical Education. I make contributions to the athletics-based modules on the course, alongside a lot of the analysis-focused modules too.”
How important do you think it is for students to focus on inclusivity when teaching?
“Inclusive teaching is just good practice, and it shouldn’t be used just for people with a disability. That’s central to my approach.
“My work with the British Athletics Para Academy means I have experience of making my teaching as inclusive as I can. I’ve worked with athletes who have cerebral palsy, and many of the athletes have learning difficulties. That really challenges how I deliver my classes.
“I’m then able to pass on that experience to our students at the Carnegie School of Sport. We have dedicated modules that allow students to learn about how to deliver sessions to people from a range of backgrounds.”
What can students expect on the course and how has the last 12 months changed your teaching approach?
“Our courses balance the ability to provide choice around key areas within the subject, such as psychology, physiology, or biomechanics, with a strong core focus upon the principles of teaching and learning.
“Our staff are experts within education, so we’re good at working from home or face-to-face. Covid-19 set us a challenge, but we’re up to the task because of how well placed our teaching staff are. For example, we’ve delivered dance and outdoor and adventurous activities remotely. Those are two topic areas that you’d think are difficult to deliver from home, but because we have always strived to keep our teaching as diverse as possible, it was something we were able to do.
Finally, what advice would you give to any potential students who are thinking of studying the course?
“Make the decision about what works best for you. If you’re interested in becoming an inclusive practitioner and learning from experienced lecturers in a brand-new facility, Leeds Beckett might be the place for you.”