On 6th May 2022 over 40 organisations from the sports coaching sector gathered at Edgbaston Stadium.

Bringing together these UK-wide companies was the bi-annual Aspire Active Partnership (AAP) Conference.

United in our drive to fight physical inactivity, the AAP network shares the goal of getting more children more active more often.

We’re collaborating every day to move the sector forwards, whether it be through webinars, podcasts, training, resource sharing, workshops or simply chatting over WhatsApp.

The strength and success of the network is determined by the relationships of those within it; being face-to-face all in one space is crucial to forming those connections. And so twice a year we all get together for the AAP conference.

A full day of workshops and post-conference social saw collaboration in full swing at our 11th conference.

Here’s a rundown of what took place, what was offered, and what was gained.

Workshops and presentations


Cold communications

Dan Hays, Aspire Active Education Group

The early bird certainly catches the worm as the day kicked off at 7.30am for those that wanted to strengthen their cold communications.

And as it turned out, many were keen to upskill because, let’s face it, cold communication is hard.

The fully booked workshop saw Dan share invaluable tips and techniques that can turn this often-dreaded task into an achievable, and even exciting, challenge.


Hello from Luke Johnson and Paul Griffiths

With everyone fuelled up on pastries, coffee, and an eagerness to learn, Paul and Luke welcomed partners who had travelled far and wide, shared network updates and set the scene for the day ahead.


Benchmarking your business

Paul Griffiths and Luke Johnson, Aspire Active Education Group

To know how to continually progress and improve your business, you first need to know where you are.

In this session, Paul explained why benchmarking is crucial to both business development and success.

To help shape the sector going forwards, data capture is essential. This is where the benchmarking tool created by Paul and Luke comes in. Partners were asked to complete the benchmarking scorecard during the session, answering 42 very simple questions about their business, taking only 5 minutes to complete.

The data was then collated and presented by Paul at end the day, giving the AAP network a snapshot of where the sector is now, and highlighting what needs to be done to get it to where we want it to be.


CIMSPA strategic direction and your benefits

Spencer and Rafe, CIMPSA

3 months ago, the AAP network announced our exciting partnership with CIMPSA. Spencer and Rafe joined us at the conference to deliver a talk packed full of insight about the partnership.

Expanding on what the partnership means for the network, Spencer revealed how together we can develop innovative ways of working to set new standards in sport and physical activity services.

More information about the partnership


Productivity solutions for your business

Paul Griffiths and James Trowman, Aspire Active Education Group

As the wearer of many hats, business owners have got too many things going on. This can very easily result in poor time management, distractions, and a lack of productivity. The purpose of this workshop was to highlight the numerous distractions we all face and how we can start to conquer them.

Paul and James presented a productivity process. Over the course of the workshop, partners worked through the model, reflecting on their own task and time management, and learnt how the cyclical model could be embedded into their business to create a more productive team.


Booking system focus group

Stephen Clarke, Aspire Active Education Group

You’ve got your customers’ attention, you’ve successfully guided them on the path to purchase, but at the last hurdle they decide to abandon ship. Why? Because your booking system is inaccessible, slow, or just generally confusing. That’s the power of the booking system.

In this workshop, Stephen discussed the Booking and Management System Aspire Active Education Group use for Active Camps. He went on to explain why we felt it needed to change and revealed our aim of developing an alternative system that could also benefit partners.

During the workshop, partners discussed their experiences with existing systems, what they felt could be improved, and what they would like to see us building into our new Booking and Management System.


Setting up a profitable wraparound service

Matt Ogle, S4A

As a hot topic in the WhatsApp group and an area that’s getting higher up on schools’ agendas year on year, it was important for wraparound care to feature on the conference schedule.

Having made wraparound care a central part of their business, Matt Ogle from S4A shared how he and his team had made it a success. Matt presented a break down of what it is to offer childcare and SEND childcare. He explained how the 16 wraparound settings they have are set up and run, showing partners what a successful service structure looks like.

Top tips were shared along with a handy checklist for partners to refer to when planning their own wraparound service.


Creating your own marketing planner

Letitia Lea and Rosie Finnegan, Aspire Active Education Group

With so many types of marketing, so many channels to choose from and so many elements that make up a campaign, it’s easy to feel marketing overwhelm.

And so, this session was about breaking campaigns down into digestible chunks. A resource had been designed to support with planning, comprising all the elements of a campaign. Letitia and Rosie ran through each part of the marketing planner, discussing the options available, showcasing how a campaign can come together, and offering examples.

Each partner got their own Marketing Campaign Planner resource to take away and work through to support the creation of their future campaigns.


CQI Part 3 – Defining our Quality Journey and the lessons learnt from the ‘Ice Cream Maker’ and the ‘Japanese Hedgehog’

Andy Heald, Educational Consultant

We as a network have a huge opportunity to really shape the sector. But this can only be achieved if we’re ethical employers who are keen to drive employee standards and quality.

Andy updated the partners on the progress being made to ensure quality standards are consistent right across the partnership.

A model of continuous quality Improvement (CQI) was presented that can be built into all businesses. Three key ideas form the basis of the model:

  • Quality is defined by the customer
  • The surest path to improved quality is getting your front-line employees involved
  • Take care of the employees and they’ll do the right things for your customers

As this model is developed centrally, it will enable sports coaching companies to hit the ground running with a process that supports staff and customer retention with quality at the heart.


Accelerate Panel

No elite sports person or team would ever compete without coaching or training. And so, Paul posed the question “Why do we expect ourselves as business owners and the people in our business to perform at their optimum without any training or support?”

If we want our team to perform better and we want our business to be better, we need to get the right training, the right CPD, the right support and the right system in place to make sure that our business is excelling.

And that’s the motivation behind the Accelerate programme.

Accelerate is the top-tier AAP membership that enhances leadership skills, boosts business performance, develops healthy habits and encourages laser-like focus to take sports coaching companies to the next level. Back in January an Accelerate pilot was launched; four organisations took part over the 3-month period.

Those four organisations formed a panel to answer questions about Accelerate, sharing their experiences and giving fellow partners an insight into the impact the programme has had on their businesses.


Recognising and rewarding success is a key pillar of the AAP network. Every conference we present three awards:


PECS Engagement Champion

The organisation that has engaged the most children through the PECS programme to date this year, and therefore the PECS Engagement Champion:

Dream Big Sports


Maths on the Move Engagement Champion

The organisation that has engaged the most children through the MOTM programm

e to date this year, and therefore the MOTM Engagement Champion:

JB’s Sports Coaching


Aspire Active Partnerships Contributor Award

Each partner cast their vote for the organisation they believed had contributed the most to the network over the past six months. With around 35% of the vote, the winner of the Aspire Active Partnerships Contributor Award is:

Dream Big Sports


During breaks and lunch, as well as tucking into a top notch spread, a marketplace was set up for partners to take advantage of exclusive offers from affiliate organisations, including:

  • LivWell
  • Aspire:ED
  • Aspire Training Solutions
  • Inspired Schools


With talks delivered, booklets completed, awards presented, resources distributed, and the buffet polished off, it was time to head over to The Floodgate in Digbeth for food, drinks, and a few games of PitPat Table Golf.

We’d like to say a big thank you to each of our workshop leaders, marketplace organisations, Edgbaston Stadium for hosting us, and all of you who joined us for the day.

Thank you for making the 11th AAP conference one to remember, we’ll see you all at the 12th!