Our partner, Optimise Learning specialises in providing Australian student-athletes with individually tailored academic programs, to ensure that they can complete their school studies from anywhere around the world. Dr Alexandra Pietsch recently travelled to Austria to visit and work with the Australian student-athletes who are participating in a Northern Hemisphere Alpine Ski Racing Program.
The recent Winter Olympics has brought a little snow sport into all of the sweltering living rooms of everyday Australians. Have you ever stopped to wonder how an Australian might be able to make it to a Winter Olympics, given our climate and general summer sport culture?
Of course we do have some snowy slopes available in the southern states, however for elite student-athletes, two or three months of training on snow each year is not enough. As most winter sport competitions are held overseas, it is important for athletes to experience skiing in the Northern Hemisphere as well.
For aspiring school-aged Australian skiers, this poses a challenge – how to continue your Australian education while spending four month on the slopes in the Northern Hemisphere?
Term One 2018 marks the fourth year of Optimise Learning’s partnership with Ski and Snowboard Australia and the High Performance Centre in Leogang, Austria. Australian student-athletes are based in Leogang for their intensive ski coaching and training, and travel from Leogang to ski in various prestigious competitions throughout Europe. To ensure each student-athlete keeps up with their school work, study sessions are organised by the onsite Optimise Learning teacher to fit around their busy sporting schedule!
Optimise Learning liaises with each athlete’s individual school in Australia to ensure they complete all relevant curriculum and assessment tasks while overseas. This allows students to return to school in Term Two with their academic progress in line with their peers. With an on-site teacher combined with the availability of online textbooks and learning activities, students report that they find this a fantastic way to “attend” their normal school while 16,000km from home.
Australian student-athletes have access to a local school in Leogang to study and complete tasks set by their school in Australia, with the support of Optimise Learning’s Australian teachers.
Generally students will have six hours of ski training each morning, followed by three hours of school in the afternoon. Due to Optimise Learning’s highly-tailored approach, schooling is able to be streamlined to 15 hours per week while in Leogang.
Arriving back at Australia House following their school-based study sessions, there has been some very intent perusal by our young athletes of the televised Winter Olympics. I have just spent ten days in Leogang working with these students and based on the discipline and commitment each athlete demonstrated to both their skiing and academics, there is no doubt that we will be watching some of them on the screen next time the Winter Olympics come around!
Dr Alexandra Pietsch
for Optimise Learning