Ignite Sport > News and Blogs > Getting to know: SEND Coordinator Ryan Hairsine

Regardless of a person’s age, background or ability, sport should be accessible to everyone and support personal development, social and professional skills and self-confidence.

Ignite SEND Coordinator Ryan Hairsine is at the heart of our work to support individuals with special educational needs and disability.

His influence on the lives of our SEND pupils helps them develop positive aspirations for their futures, make new friends and unlock their true potential both academically and socially.

We caught up with Ryan to learn more about his role and how sport can be used as a lever to inspire those who might face difficulties learning in school and other educational environments.

SEN – what is it?

The latest Government report revealed just under 1.5 million pupils in England have special educational needs.

Special educational needs can affect a young person’s ability to learn, their behaviour, ability to socialise, reading, writing, concentration and ability to understand things.

Dedicated SEND Coordinators work with pupils by assessing, planning and monitoring their progress to help them through their education.

How Ignite Sport help

Ignite prides itself on being a truly inclusive organisation and has a thriving alternative provision programme offering a range of football, multi-sport and sports apprenticeship opportunities.

The programmes are designed to meet each learner’s individual needs and include work related and practical skills, functional skills (Maths and English), and support the development of skills which can be applied in the future.

Sport has a tremendous power to positively impact the lives of all learners from developing good communication and knowing how to successfully work together as a team in roles on and off the pitch.

Graduates of our alternative provision programme are well-placed to broaden their confidence, knowledge and social skills later in life.


Pupils arrive on site at our Marston base in Oxfordshire at 10am each day, but Ryan’s work will start much earlier.

His key responsibilities include behaviour management, communication with schools, parents and carers and local authorities, ensuring safeguarding measures are up to date plus session planning and delivery.

It means no two days are the same for Ryan, who joined our team in April 2022 after holding previous roles as a coaching mentor, special education TA and an inclusion teacher.

“Communication is such an important skill in this role,” said Ryan. “I want to make sure every pupil has the best possible learning experience from the moment they arrive to when they leave.

“That means greeting them with a smile in the morning and making sure they are happy, to being understanding, supportive and caring during wellbeing sessions, lessons, football sessions and more.

“As we are based at the RAW Charging Stadium, home of Oxford City FC, we can provide real-life work experience opportunities at a well-established football club with strong community ties and values.”

Inclusive environment

Not all pupils respond well to traditional teaching methods or excel in mainstream education.

Often, taking education outside the classroom and providing pupils with real life experiences and scenarios can help them relate what they learn to the world around them.

But every student is different, which is why Ignite’s bespoke programmes are adaptable to suit an individual’s requirements.

“Learning in the surroundings of 30 plus people in a classroom isn’t always the best way to get the most out of an individual,” said Ryan. “Our pupils can be open and honest about their development and feelings through dedicated small-group and one-on-one interventions.

“We’re a friend as much as we are a teacher – someone they can build a trusting relationship with to support their targets and future ambitions. We have a fantastic team of role models at Ignite Sport which helps pupils get the most out of their education.”

Rewarding role

With more than seven years’ experience working in the sector, 27-year-old Ryan listed his three qualities of being Ignite's SEND Coordinator. They are:

· To be patient

· To be understanding

· To be approachable

“I’ve always worked with SEN pupils,” said Ryan. “I love the role, and it’s rewarding on a personal level too.

“Not only being witness to their skill and knowledge development, but also seeing them flourish and develop into confident young adults through the power of sport by breaking down barriers they may have previously faced in life.

“That is what we are here to assist with and to help pupils achieve.”

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0300 303 0890


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