Wednesday 24th February 2021

As part of LGBT History Month, we are celebrating the Saints Sports recent equality and inclusion success! Towards the end of 2020, the University of St. Andrews became the first institution in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter, receiving the silver award! Read the full story here.

In December of 2020 LGBT Youth Scotland announced that Saint Sport, University of St Andrews became the first University or College Sports Department in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter and achieve the Silver award. A fantastic achievement by the Saints Sport team!

LGBT Youth Scotland’s Charter is a straightforward programme that enables your organisation to proactively include LGBT people in every aspect of your work, protecting your staff and providing high-quality service to your customers. By being awarded the Charter, it enables you to send a positive message, with confidence, that your organisation is a champion of LGBT inclusion where LGBT employees or customers will be safe, supported, and included.

We spoke to Doro Weber, Fundraising Manager at LGBT Youth Scotland, who led the Saints team through the Charter. Doro was full of praise for the Saints Sport team and their dedication throughout the project. She said:

“It was a pleasure to work with the team at Saints Sport on their LGBT Charter journey. They worked hard to make their department extremely welcoming to LGBT young people and have created a benchmark  of best practice for other sports organisations to aspire to.

“I was particularly impressed by their social media campaign around LGBT sporting icons which highlighted role models who don’t always have a spotlight shone on their achievements.”

Some of the most notable actions at Saints Sport for LGBT inclusion has seen members and staff at Saints Sport undertaking training, and a review of policies, practice and resources to make sure they are as inclusive as they can be.

Coordinating this piece of work is Saint Sport’s Head of Development Claire Scott (pictured below, right). She said:

“I am delighted that Saints Sport has been awarded the LGBT Charter Silver Award. This makes a clear statement that equality and diversity are at the heart of what we do at Saints Sport. It has been a journey of discovery, understanding and strong partnership.

“This award would not have been achieved without a team of great people around us including HR and Student Services. We have worked tirelessly to ensure Saints Sport became the first Sports Department in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter.”

Carolina O’Neill de Sousa e Sá, is the newly appointed LGBTQ+ Lead within the Equality Steering Group. She added:

“This is a significant achievement for Saints Sport and one which should not go unnoticed. This award is evidence of Saints’ commitment to and passion for LGBTQ+ inclusion, and ultimately means LGBTQ+ staff and students will feel more supported, visible and represented. Our hope at Scottish Student Sport is that more members will follow in the footsteps of Saints Sport, and we would be thrilled to collaborate on any initiatives.”

Congratulations to the Saints Sport team and the University of St Andrews for continuing to embed the importance of inclusion throughout their work.


Tuesday 23rd February 2021

Our Equality Steering group have recruited four new volunteers onto the group. Meet our Women’s, Ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and Disability Leads here!

The Equality Steering Group was established to advise and prompt the staff, committees and networks of SSS on all relevant aspects of equality and inclusion, with particular emphasis on ensuring adherence to a rolling Equality Action Plan for the organisation. Meet our four new volunteer leads!

Emmanuel Akerele, Ethnicity Lead

Meet Your LeadMy name is Emmanuel, I studied Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (MSc) and currently serving as the President for Education and Welfare at Robert Gordon University Student’s Union. I love and play football and I am very passionate about equality, diversity and representation within sports and wider society.

What attracted you to the role? I know that still racism exists, having experienced it myself and hearing of others’ experiences. It is imperative that everyone be anti-racist, actively against racism until it is completely eradicated. During my studies, I co-founded RGU’s Black Liberation Network which is a network of students coming together to take a stand against racism. I have also led several activist campaigns in the past such as Black History Month and hope to add more value to the subject through SSS.

Fun fact about yourself? I love football and I love scoring goals. I am a big boxing fan and my favourite sportspersons are Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Joshua.


Carolina O’Neill de Sousa e Sá, LGBTQ+ Lead

Meet Your Lead: I’m a Portuguese/American who grew up in Lisbon and has been living in Scotland since 2013. I’ve been an avid sportsperson for most of my life; taking every opportunity to get involved in sports teams, competitions, and outdoor activities. I studied at the University of Edinburgh – an undergraduate in Sports Science and a Masters in Sport Policy and International Development.

Like most people, it was during my time at uni that I really came into my shell. One thing which definitely helped me was joining the Women’s Football Club. It was a place where I felt understood and like I could be entirely myself. It was during my Masters that I developed my passion for promoting equality and diversity through sport, particularly LGBTIQ inclusion. I now work as a Project Officer for LEAP Sports (Scotland’s LGBTIQ sports charity) and Football v Homophobia Scotland.

What attracted you to the role? Student sport is a dynamic, fast-paced industry so I have always considered SSS to be an exciting organisation to be involved in. As for the role, this is a completely new role within SSS so it feels like a clean slate and something I can get creative with. LGBTIQ inclusion in sport is what I’m passionate about, and I’m really looking forward to working with students and sports clubs all over Scotland to make student sport a more welcoming space for all LGBTIQ people.

Fun fact about yourself? Not a fun fact, but my claim to fame is that I went to school – in Portugal – with Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier. He was in the year above me, and I used to play football with him during our lunch breaks.


Laura Pilkington, Disability Lead

Meet Your Lead: My name is Laura Pilkington and I was born with a disability called Brittle Bones disease. I am a second-year student at Robert Gordon University and I study sports and exercise science.  I am a competitive para-swimmer and have been involved in swimming for the last 10 years. I am part of the Scottish Para-Swimming team and have Scottish para-swimming records in my classification. I am currently part of both Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland’s Young People’s Sport Panel. I am also a swimming teacher covering shifts when I have some free time!

What attracted you to the role? I am passionate about inclusion within sport and know how much being involved within sport can have such a positive impact on your life; mentally, socially, and physically. However, I know that there are barriers that prevent those with disabilities taking part. I think raising awareness of these barriers within SSS is really important as well as finding out how best we can promote inclusion within disability sport. Sport is such a big part of student life and having a disability shouldn’t stop you from participating in this! I am really excited to work with the team and SDS to increase participation.

Fun fact about yourself? I can lick my elbow!


Georgia Moran, Women’s Lead

Meet Your Lead: Hello, I’m Georgia, SSS’ Women’s Lead. I studied Popular Music at Edinburgh Napier University, where I got quickly involved in the Students Association for four years before being elected as VP Sports & Societies for two years after I graduated. I am now the East Regional Development Officer at The RYA Scotland.

Being VP Sports & Socs lead me to so many amazing volunteering opportunities within SSS such as Elected Students Forum Chair, Competitions, Equality and Executive Committee Member and Chair/Founder of the Women in Sport Working Group. I have a passion for Equality and Inclusion in sport and I can’t wait to continue making a positive impact on the Student Sport Sector with SSS and the rest of the Equality Steering Group.

What attracted you to the role? I am excited about this role as it will provide more positive impacts to happen within the SSS membership. I have chaired the Women in Sport Group from 2019, now and I am so excited to keep pushing forward with the rest of the team. I have loved volunteering with SSS the past couple of years and I believe this group will have some amazing outcomes.

Fun fact about yourself? When my mum and I were visiting Nashville, Tennesse we were invited on stage to sing a couple of country songs in one of the most famous bars.


Thursday 17th December 2020

Are you the person to lead the development of ethnic diversity within SSS’ Equality Steering Group? Interested in being part of the equality and inclusion development conversation? Find out more about the role here!

Volunteer Role: Ethnicity Lead, Equality Steering Group

Duration: 2 years with an option for a 3rd year

Closing Date: Sunday 31st January 2021

Scottish Student Sport’s Equality Steering Group was established to advise and prompt the staff, committees, and networks of SSS on all relevant aspects of equality and inclusion, with particular emphasis on ensuring adherence to a rolling Equality Action Plan for the organisation.

SSS is looking for a proactive volunteer to contribute and drive the outcomes of the Equality Steering Group, identify gaps, and develop student sport within Scotland for students from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This person will assist in shaping SSS’ long-term approach to the Equality Standard for Sport by providing added capacity to SSS around relevant projects and development. The ethnicity lead will be expected to work alongside partners and governing bodies.

The role description will provide further detail of the role but if you have any questions or queries, please email or call Regional Development Coordinator Eilidh (07507 766165).

To apply please email a cover letter and CV to Eilidh,


Thursday 26th November 2020

Scottish Disability Sport shares a case study alongside the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences. The study reviews the impact that disability inclusion training had on fourth-year PE students.

Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) has an excellent partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences.  The funding from Sainsbury’s has enabled SDS to deliver three UK Disability Inclusion Training (DIT) sessions to 87 fourth-year PE students, prior to them undertaking their final teaching practice.

June Murray Associate Tutor, within the Faculty of Education at the University of Edinburgh, provides an overview as to the importance of PE students gaining greater knowledge, understanding and applying it through the UK DIT regarding the inclusion of young people with a disability.  June said:

“It helps the students to become more professional, empathetic, and committed to teaching all pupils.  Furthermore, it allows them to plan for the huge diversity of needs within a class.”

Q. Why is it important for PE students to gain greater knowledge and understanding regarding the inclusion of young people with a disability?

June explains:

“The training puts the students in a better position to demonstrate more fully the values and standards required of a PE teacher.  It is the combination of theory and practice that is a vital combination and provides a tangible learning environment.

“The content provides a kudos for the training being transmitted and has proved to be invaluable learning for all the students. In essence, it brings about greater resonance for the PE students in Year 4 when completing their teaching practice and about to embark on their NQT Year.  The University further identifies that the learning that takes place for the PE students makes them more thoughtful about planning and there is a definite shift in their practice and ability to plan for inclusion.”

A central theme that runs throughout is to highlight ability, not disability and it often changes the PE student’s view as to the imperative need for differentiation in teaching.  The subtle nuances of differentiation can mean the difference between inclusion for a pupil with disabilities and isolation.

Throughout the training, cards were provided to the students to assist their learning and provide them with support. Below are some of the quotes that have come directly from the 4th year students who undertook the training in November 2019 and went out on placement in January 2020.

The following Q&A in the article is with participants who completed the disability inclusion training.

Q. What do you consider to be the key learning from the disability inclusion training?

“The DIT has massively enhanced my knowledge of being able to alter my teaching in order to best meet the needs of every pupil in the class in a fun and creative way. The content that was taught through these practical sessions is fundamentally the most important part of my teaching practice as what was taught goes way beyond just supporting pupils with additional support needs, it’s about recognising that every pupil learns differently. I would consider the DIT course to be vital for all student and even graduated teachers.

“Deeper understanding of the importance of inclusion for those with disabilities and without, especially within a sports context.

“I think the biggest thing I have taken from these workshops is getting to experience how vulnerable some young people will feel when they are in PE/school in general.

“I don’t think I realised how much I learned from the training until being on placement and now reflecting on it, very glad we got to have the training.

“The key thing I took from the training was knowledge for different disabilities and then the process of adapting activities by the space and equipment to help the learner. Before the training, I had little awareness of the impacts of different disabilities and how to best understand an individual’s needs. The course also taught me to focus on things that individuals can do and not only focus on what they can’t do.”

“I’m definitely more aware of differentiating lessons to ensure that everyone is included whether it be equipment or different challenges.”

Q. What has been the practical impact been during your placement?

“It’s definitely changed my view on how important my job as a teacher, to include these pupils and all the possibilities that are available so all can participate in my PE lessons.”

“I have used a lot of the content from the DIT in my student placements. A very memorable moment for me was on PEP, I shadowed one pupil with additional support needs in all of his classes, once a week for 4 weeks. He made it very clear that PE was by far his least favourite subject as he struggled to mix with other kids in his class and felt too under pressure in a PE environment so he very rarely took part. However, as I was there as an extra member of staff, I was able to support him on a 1 to 1 basis in PE for 3 weeks and we simply did our own adapted PE lesson isolated from the other pupils. The lessons I prepared were entirely things that I had been taught within the DIT sessions held at the University. I simply just wanted him to be engaged with PE and enjoy it more so he would build up his confidence. In my final week of PEP, I asked him if he felt like he would want to go back into PE with the other pupils and he was hesitant at first but agreed.  It may not seem like a huge life-changing story but the difference of being able to take part in fun activities and bring enjoyment to his physical exercise had changed his outlook on the subject in a small period of time. It’s something that I feel very happy about.”

“It has enabled me to grasp a greater understanding of multiple disabilities and helped me to identify the barriers that students with disabilities face on a daily basis.”

“The course has allowed me to gain a deep appreciation and admiration of those with disabilities. This has meant that I ask those within my class to help me reflect upon my lessons for next time. By doing so this has helped build relationships while teaching while also aiding my own development.”

“One example I would give is from my 4th-year placement where I had one pupil who wouldn’t bring his kit and didn’t want to join in etc., but by gradually encouraging him over the weeks and using adapted activities, he started joining in as he felt more comfortable within the class.

“The training has definitely given me more confidence when there are pupils in my classes with a disability or learning difficulty by making me aware of the appropriate ways to communicate with the pupil and tailor lessons to allow them to successfully be involved in the lesson. It has also made me put more thought into how I am giving instructions or explaining activities so all pupils can understand what they are to do. By being more aware of pupils’ needs has also made me think about the class setup and who pupils are working with and the space they are working in, which is something I learned on my last placement guided by what I learned from the course.”

“I had a pupil in my class that had tunnel vision, taking from the training, when I put on the tunnel vision goggles and I felt for myself how it felt, I made sure that I was doing everything to make her feel comfortable and, benefiting from lessons as much as everyone else in the class.”

Thank you to Scottish Disability Sport and the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences for sharing the student journey with us. For further information about SSS’ partnership with SDS, follow this link. If you wish to discuss disability inclusion further, please get in touch with your Regional Development Coordinator.