Rugby great Sir Clive Woodward tells students “never stop learning” during visit to GEMS schools

6 March 2023
World Cup-winning England coach gives audiences masterclass in leadership

  • Rugby great Sir Clive Woodward tells students “never stop learning” during visit to GEMS schools
  • World Cup-winning England coach gives audiences masterclass in leadership
  • Students, parents, and staff told that continuous learning is secret to success
  • GEMS collaborates with EdTech platform 8billionideas for a multi-school tour

Students, teachers and parents were treated to unique insights into leadership and motivation when the transformational sports coach Sir Clive Woodward visited four GEMS Education schools this week.

Sir Clive, who led England to victory in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup, visited GEMS Cambridge International School – Abu Dhabi, GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis and GEMS Wellington International School in Dubai.

Sir Clive is credited with transforming the way the game is played and coached, with his focus on studying the game, preparing for pressure, and managing mental wellbeing. He is Founder and Chairman of Hive Learning, an app which has digitised his coaching methods, as well as Director of Sport at Apex2100 International Ski Academy, one of the world’s leading high-performance alpine skiing education and training centres.

Through his work at Apex2100, Sir Clive has partnered with innovative education platform 8billionideas to create Perform Better, which distils his principles for success into a course for students of any discipline.

Pupils at GEMS Cambridge International School – Abu Dhabi and GEMS Wellington International School have completed the Perform Better programme virtually. A cohort of eight students from the former were given the opportunity to meet Sir Clive during his visit to the school together with David Harkin, CEO and Founder of 8billionideas.

The students shared their learnings from Perform Better and explained how the programme has helped them achieve their goals both at school and in their personal lives.

Addressing students at GEMS Cambridge International School – Abu Dhabi, Sir Clive said: “Learning is everything. Never stop learning. Become a student of the game, no matter what your game is. The moment you stop learning you come second at best.”

When asked by a pupil, what advice he would give his younger self, Sir Clive replied: “I had some of the best teachers and coaches at age 15-17. If I had written everything down and kept it, it would be priceless. I often say, ‘think in ink’; the more you write, the more you keep things and think about how to do better.”

Although famous for his accolades in sports, Sir Clive credits his success as a coach to being a teacher. He graduated from Loughborough University in the UK with a sports science degree, followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.

Sir Clive stressed that every member of the executive coaching team of the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup-winning team was a qualified teacher. He said: “It’s not being a great rugby player that made me a good coach, it was being a teacher. That’s what I’m doing out there with every team – teaching and helping people learn and perform better.”

Kelvin Hornsby, Principal/CEO of GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi and Senior Vice President – Education at GEMS Education, said: “It is a pleasure and honour to have Sir Clive Woodward visit our school and take time to inspire our students and staff. We’ve seen the positive impact that the Perform Better programme has had on the students at Cambridge International School – Abu Dhabi, and we’re excited to take this to more of our learners.”

At GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, where rugby is one of the school’s six core sports and where the PE teaching team includes former professional players, Sir Clive and David Harkin participated in a Q&A session with students from across the school’s diverse sports programmes.

David Harkin, CEO and Founder of 8billionideas, said: “8billionideas has been a strategic partner with GEMS Education for just over a year now, working closely with 10 schools to bring future-focussed learning to its students. When we had the opportunity to bring Sir Clive Woodward into the heart of GEMS schools, alongside Apex2100 we were delighted to make it happen. The day was a fantastic opportunity to meet students, parents and teachers and the excitement around the Perform Better programme, which will give students key skills to excel in whatever they want to do in the future, was great to see.”

GEMS Education’s partnership with 8billionideas aims to see every school in the GEMS network have access to the unique suite of content and courses the platform provides.

Maryssa O’Connor, Senior Vice President – Education at GEMS Education and Principal/CEO of GEMS Wellington International School, said: “Our school has integrated 8billionideas’ innovative content into the curriculum to further enhance the learning resources for our students. What makes David and his team’s interactions with the school special is that it is truly bespoke. It is through our work with 8billionideas that we became familiar with Perform Better and were privileged last summer to have a group of students take part in it online. We are delighted to welcome Sir Clive and David to our schools.”

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