1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Sports Coaching and Performance

Last updated
  • England

Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job, or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.

Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.

1st4sport Qualifications are regulated in England by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual), in Wales by Qualifications Wales and in Northern Ireland by the Council for the Curriculum, Examination and Assessment (CCEA) Regulation.

The 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Sports Coaching and Performance contextualises coaching knowledge and application for the sports performance environment.

This qualification is not included in the Key stage 5 performance measures because it has not been designed specifically for full time 16-19 programmes as this is an occupational qualification.

Education context

This qualification is designed for post-16 students and falls under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.

Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.

This qualification has not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:

  • relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
  • rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
  • recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.

Regulation of vocational qualifications

The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland), SQA (Scotland), and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

The 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Sports Coaching and Performance is a vocational qualification supporting coaches who wish to specialise in the performance environment  It is the highest tennis coaching qualification offered by 1st4sport as part of a progressive suite. The qualification may be delivered in a variety of settings including schools, colleges and through private training providers.

Awarding organisation
  • 1st4sport Qualifications
Qualification code

Learners must successfully complete the eleven mandatory units within this qualification. Four of these units focus on the theory behind coaching practice and the remaining units deliver the knowledge and skills to be able to operate in a performance sport environment.

Subject areas
  • Sports coaching
  • Level 3
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, though many may be offered on a three-country basis.

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.


This qualification is graded on a pass/fail basis. Students must pass all units to achieve the qualification.


This qualification is internally assessed.

Students are required to complete a series of assessed tasks covering the role of the coach; plan, deliver, manage and evaluate a sports coaching programme and to demonstrate their ability to coach sessions. Observation of coaching practice is typically carried out in a simulated, on-course environment. There is no synoptic assessment requirement for this qualification.

Learners are also required to deliver presentations to further demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the sports performance landscape.

Centres are required to internally quality assure students in line with their centre’s IQA policy and sampling plan.

1st4sport externally quality assure each centre in line with a centre’s risk profile.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Internal assessment contributes 100% of the overall grade

Resit arrangements

Students are permitted up to three assessment attempts for each assessment task (one assessment and a further two reassessment opportunities). Should the student be deemed ‘Not Yet Competent’ after three attempts, they are required to be re-registered onto the qualification and undertake further learning. Reassessments are arranged between the centre and the student at a time convenient to both parties. Reassessment must take place within the student's registration period for the qualification (3 years).

Guided/notional learning hours
369 hours: 369 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

369 TQT

UCAS grade bands

Not yet available.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables for England:

  • Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
  • Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however, some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
  • These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
  • This qualification is 369 GLH. If it is presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.

This qualification would be suitable for consideration for progression to HE. Particularly suited to HE focussing on the sport and physical activity sector, students holding this qualification will have developed coaching skills and personal skills. Students holding this qualification could also use the qualification to enter employment as a coach, working either freelance or under the umbrella of a sports club/organisation.

This qualification has been operational since September 2019.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are enrolled throughout the year. Assessments are carried out on an on-demand basis and arranged between the student and their recognised centre. Centres confirm results to students following their final observed assessment and any scheduled IQA has taken place.

Student certificates are issued within 25 working days of the centre informing 1st4sport the student has completed the qualification.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2019
Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of the 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Sports Coaching and Performance are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

1st4sport certification data is published quarterly by Ofqual and is available at www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/vocational-qualifications-dataset. This data is collated through quarterly data submissions 1st4sport provide to the regulator.

1st4sport also submit data via the Bath Report to submit achievement information that is relevant to National Pupil Database, Performance Tables and Vocational Qualifications. It provides details on the individual learners that have been registered to our qualifications and whether they have achieved.

Progression information

This qualification would be very beneficial to any students looking to progress to a Sports Coaching (or similar) degree, underpinning many of the principles that will be delivered as part of the course. It could also lead to students to progress to other industry-relevant qualifications in coaching other sports, activity leadership, supporting PE in schools sport and sports development. 

This qualification is for those who wish to work full time within the coaching profession and to have responsibility for the planning, delivery and evaluation of annual coaching programmes. It is directed at students who have an interest in, and/or experience of, the performance sport environment.