This study explores the competing demands of young people who are both high performance athletes whilst at school and then transitioning into higher education institutions. Three phenomena have resulted in an increasing number of students who are high performance athletes. First is the greater range and number of international sports competitions; second is the younger age of many competitors and the third is the requirement of young people to stay at school until they are 17 years old before they transition into university. The demands of high performance sport and education are extremely difficult to balance. In essence, these young people are trying to fit two lives into one. The research question is: What are the needs and problems of high performance athletes, and what are the characteristics of successful education models that best meet the needs of these young people? The methods and methodology of this research involves the collection and analysis of qualitative data, within an interpretivist paradigm. Using in-depth interviews and document analysis, the research aims to develop theory around the conflicting needs of the high performance athlete and their education context. The four groups of participants targeted are athletes aged 15-18 years, athletes over 18 years, parents and education officials. The proposed outcomes of this study are: firstly, to identify the difficulties and problems these young people are facing in managing their dual lives from the athletes', parents', and teachers’ perspectives. Secondly, to collate characteristics from Australian education models about the best practices for dealing with specific issues faced by these young people. Thirdly, provide a template of best practice guidelines about how to deal with issues faced by these young people, in particular pastoral care, goal setting, career development, time management, life balance, transition from school into the high education context, and life after sport.
2011 Learning & Teaching Week: The Learning Journey, Sunshine Coast, Australia 19-23 September 2011