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Sport England's LMS attracts over 110,000 users in a year

Sport England is a non-departmental government body, responsible for growing and developing grassroots sport and increasing levels of activity in people within England.

Club Matters is Sport England’s one-stop shop for sports clubs, providing free, convenient, practical resources to help develop and run sustainable clubs.

The Challenge

Sport England Club Matters (SECM) had three systems running in parallel, causing issues with maintenance and wasting time on administration. They wanted to combine these sites into one and rejuvenate their online offering. This included pivoting their resource bank into a fully integrated LMS solution with newly sculpted learning pathways and custom e-learning modules, all packaged within an SEO-ready, contemporary and accessible website.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person efforts to support clubs, and there was a need to switch to online learning and support to help clubs through the difficult time and uncertainty. 

The Solution

Sport England's Club Matters LMS shown on desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone

After a robust procurement process, Sport England selected Accipio as their Totara Partner.  They joined the core program team, led on the online workstream, and helped shape and deliver the solution with Sport England and partners. 

The features of the solution included:

  • Merger of three platforms into one. The complexity of administering multiple systems was taking a toll on administration time and creating training barriers to using the various platforms. It was a vital requirement to consolidate these three platforms into one simple system to reclaim time which could be invested in content development.
  • Structured learning pathways and “discover features.” The former setup served as a static resource bank of articles, e-learning and resources. Together, we restructured this resource bank into dynamic structured pathways, focused on the various core themes of club management and sustainability, from welfare and safeguarding to facility management. We also established a means for users to have recommended and featured resources pushed out to them based on interests, and a tool for liking and bookmarking content. 
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The site has a core base of Workforce users from National Governing Bodies and Active Partnership employees, but the bulk of the audience is sourced through organic search visitors. As such, the solution required a comprehensive provision for SEO. Accipio implemented a custom set of plugins, Accipio Rank, to cater to this, made possible through the open nature of Totara. This enabled clean URLs throughout the system as well as customization of titles, meta descriptions, keywords and much more. 
  • Accessibility compliant with WCAG 2.1AA. With the arrival of new government requirements pertaining to accessibility coming into place in September 2020, it was vital that the solution was compliant to WCAG 2.1AA standard. Upgrading to Totara 13 and focusing on accessibility in their theme development process meant that Sport England were able to create a truly accessible site. 
  • Contemporary UI, with flexible theme and courses layout. Accipio worked with Sport England's brand team to develop a beautiful site. This catered for the full multitenancy capabilities of Totara Learn 13, with the possibility of including a dual-branded solution in the future. Accipio also deployed their custom course format, Immerse, which creates engaging courses with little effort. 

The Results

Sport England's Club Matters site has almost 24,000 registered users and over 20,000 clubs. Open access parts of the site have been accessed by over 110,000 users in the past year according to Google Analytics, which is a 20% increase on the previous year. The site provides a “one-stop shop” for sports clubs to access free, convenient and practical resources.

Sport England's Club Matters LMS shown on desktop and tablet

Because Totara is open-source, Accipio was able to extend the site with a range of plugins. This included an SEO plugin to help results show on page 1 of Google (i.e. improve search engine ranking), a "discover" block and custom course formats and themes. 

Combining three platforms into one (including a WordPress site) delivered significant savings of over £10,000 per annum. Automation in Totara also delivered time savings in administration load.

Sport England also exercised their freedom of choice by switching their Totara services to Accipio, having previously worked with another Totara Partner. 

"Club Matters is a sports and activity development platform powered by Totara, and has gone through a revolution over the last 12 months. From an underused platform, Accipio has really driven and championed how to get the most from an updated and innovative solution to enable learning to happen. Central to this development has been allowing users to have more freedom in the ways that they can learn, making it simple, informative and interactive. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Club Matters website has been an essential learning and sharing platform to help keep thousands of volunteers, clubs and organizations connected and confident in what they are able to. It’s really driven a digital revolution that needed us to create an innovative site that matched people demands and gave them the real choice in how they want to learn and develop. Moving forward, we feel better prepared to give more solutions to learning, and it’s an exciting 12 month where we will look to build on the digital revolution being felt across sport and activity.”