AASE Programme 

British Judo are delighted to announce the commencement of the British Judo Association's Apprenticeship Programme for athletes aged 15-19 years old.

From September 2013, the England Judo programme has developed a fully integrated Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE). The programme will be run from 8 England bAASEs and will offer the opportunity for English Judoka to increase their weekly training volume while working towards a vocational qualification. The Judo AASE programme will follow the technical direction of the England programme- directly linked to the British Judo Performance Pathway.

If you're interested in taking part in the programme please complete the expression of interest form.


SkillsActive in partnership with the Learning Skills Council, a number of governing bodies of sport, industry experts and other partnership organisations, developed the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE). The framework was approved in March 2004 and has been rolled out across 25 sports such as football, rugby union, swimming, golf, hockey, and athletics. In Judo there are currently three centres that offer the AASE programme. The British Judo Association is eager to increase this number by creating an England bAASE Network offering the opportunity to train and study in a full-time environment.   

AASE is designed to meet the needs of aspiring elite athletes aged 16-19 who wish to continue their sporting career and gain qualifications at the same time. It is notionally a two-year programme where apprentices receive additional support and guidance for their Judo development and education. AASE is aimed at athletes:

‘who have the realistic potential to achieve excellence in their sport and 

are seeking to perform at the highest level as their main career goal


The programme has been designed so that the athlete will aspire for excellence in their sport and will also gain skills, knowledge and qualifications to support additional career options. Exit routes could include Higher Education, or working in the sport and recreation industry as a coach, sport development officer, fitness instructor, and so on. 

For the British Judo Association (BJA) the basic philosophy of AASE is to “support athletes in a full time training and educational environment.” Our vision is to see the AASE programme become a key part of the British Judo Association’s Talent Pathway and performance model.

AASE Framework

The Apprenticeship consists of three components:

1. Level 3 Diploma in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance. 

This qualification is only available as part of the AASE scheme and recognises excellence in a specific sport.  The Diploma is made up of sport-specific units. To achieve the full Diploma all units must be successfully completed. 

Four of the units provide direct assessment of the athlete’s application of technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport. The remaining units address wider issues such as nutrition, lifestyle organisation, career management, communication skills and health and safety. Not only do these units cover some of the most important factors to becoming an elite athlete, they also empower the athlete with a greater understanding in their training and performance and are focussed on a more holistic development of the athlete.

2.  Academic/Vocational Qualification

The AASE scheme aspires for athletes to follow a comprehensive educational programme at a BJA-approved “England bAASE”, which can be chosen from the range of academic or vocational qualifications and permits the opportunity to train for at least 15 hours a week physical training towards their Judo. 

In order to qualify for AASE, athletes need to have achieved grades A*-C in GCSE Maths and English, or have a Level 2 equivalent in Key/Functional Skills. The BJA and SGS College will work in consultation with relevant colleges/schools to determine the correct mix of qualifications that the AASE Apprentices will undertake.

3. English System            

Ideally AASE athletes will also be identified as a part of the England talent pathway.

The full apprenticeship is awarded by Skills Active only after ALL parts of the framework have been completed.


British Judo Association Guidelines

1) The athletes:

  • Judo athletes on AASE must have a proven ability and/or the potential to compete at the highest level. Each athlete will need to be approved by an England National Coach with recommendation made from an England bAASE coach.
  • All Judo players applying for AASE will be approved by the BJA in consultation with the SGS, England bAASE Network and National Team Coaches.
  • It is envisaged that many Judo players coming into the programme will have already been identified in the BJA development pathway. However, there will be talented Judo players outside the pathway and programs are strongly encouraged to identify and nominate such athletes (with supporting evidence).

2) The coaching and judo content: 

  • Coaches should have a proven track record in the development of judo players.
  • An England bAASE Coach/Assessor must possess current nationally recognised qualifications and be affiliated to the BJA.
  • All Coaches working within an AASE programme should have experience in a high quality academy/institute/intensive training environment.
  • All coaches must be approved by the BJA.
  • All England bAASE coaches must hold or be willing to work towards an Assessor qualification in order to undertake the assessments of the Level 3 NVQ (Vocational qualification).
  • The programme must be able to deliver a minimum of 10 hours (with a hope to increase to 20 after the first year) of specific physical training relevant to judo to each AASE player on a weekly basis. This will include time for specific randori sessions, individual/small group work and squad sessions.
  • The programme must follow a BJA approved curriculum. A Judo Curriculum is being developed, and once available all AASE programs will be expected to include this as part of their programme.
  • Coaches/Assessors should have a good understanding of the AASE programme and the requirements of an AASE coach and athlete.

3) Support staff and programs:

  • A qualified Assessor should be in place that holds at least an Assessor Qualification and be judo competent to undertake the assessment of the Level 3 NVQ in line with 1st4Sport requirements.
  • It is hoped that the opportunity to work with a qualified and experienced Strength & Conditioning (S&C) coach should be offered to the athletes (either on staff or contracted). Ideally they will be accredited with UKSAC, and have experience working with developing elite athletes in this age range, preferably with judo experience (or at least in similar combat sports).
  • Athletes must have access to a minimum of two Strength & Conditioning sessions per week that are focussed on athletic physical development, and where possible three sessions per week. The coaching of these sessions is to be done by the qualified S&C coach mentioned above.
  • It is hoped that an appropriately qualified (chartered) physiotherapy support should be available to AASE athletes at no or minimum cost.
  • The England bAASE should aim to provide appropriate medical support for the areas the physiotherapist is not trained to handle.
  • The England bAASE must be able to provide education and support in key areas such as goal setting, sport psychology, nutrition, and time management. Focus on the judo specifics is not enough for a successful AASE programme.
  • Ideally a member of staff with strong involvement in the programme will have qualifications (for example the Level 3 in Talented Athlete Support) and experience in supporting elite athletes.

4) Facilities and equipment:

  • Access to a dojo, which complies with BJA Standards.
  • Free access for AASE athletes to strength & conditioning facilities which are appropriate for the development of performance athletes (preferably on campus). Equipment such as machine weights alone is not sufficient. 
  • Video analysis software should be available for use by the coaching staff (and when appropriate, for athletes). This software should allow for analysis of the individual both in training and competition.

5) Club links to the England bAASE and competition opportunities:

  • Through the England bAASE and education partnership a quality and regular competition opportunity must be made available for every AASE judo athlete. It is preferred that each programme is able to cater for athletes at varied points in their development.
  • An England bAASE is not required to align themselves with one club and AASE athletes are not required to move clubs to train at the England bAASE.
  • It is preferred that each programme has a link to the top level of competition in the country.

6) The educational institution (where applicable):

  • Must have obtained an outstanding or good status during their last OFSTED inspection, with positive results regarding the delivery of Functional skills.
  • Will have the commitment and support of top level management to the AASE programme. This will allow factors crucial to program success (such as timetable flexibility) to be supported.
  • Should have a proven track-record in sport-experience with AASE would be viewed favourably.
  • Able to provide a wide range of options to athletes regarding academic and vocational qualifications.
  • Must maintain Individual Learner Plans to track all parts of the framework

7) Post AASE:

  • The England bAASE should aspire to have strategies and relationships in place for a clear pathway post-AASE that gives athletes legitimate and viable options. Examples include: HE links within the UK; links to alternative full-time Judo opportunities within the UK (BJA); and non-competing career options.

Additional Notes

  • AASE Allocation in alignment with AASE Government exemption against mandatory payment. Judo apprentices do not have to be paid under the Government exemption for AASE apprentices competing in an Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Sport. The BJA will allocate a set number of apprentice spaces to each England bAASE each year- this must be adhered to. In addition the England bAASE is required to provide sufficient information to ensure that the SkillsActive Exemption Forms are completed.

 To any institution that meets the above criteria.

  • Programmes given approval to offer AASE will not be granted a minimum or maximum number of athletes. The number will be dependent on how many athletes meet the criteria outlined in section 1 and the number assigned to the sport by the National Apprenticeship Service
  • All England bAASE’s must be prepared to work constructively with key partners – Skills Active, British Judo Association and SGS College.
  • All AASE Athletes will be required to abide by Anti-Doping legislation, the BJA Code of Conduct and the BJA Child Protection Policy.