Richard Taunton Sixth Form College is offering young people a head start in the fast-growing world of Esports by launching a new course this autumn.

The BTEC Level 2 Esports and IT course, aimed at 16 to 18-year-olds, will give a grounding in the competitive video games industry, which now attracts more than 1.2 million players and online spectators in the UK alone.

An Esports match pits two teams of players against each other over a number of different online games, with the winners being decided by best of three or five. They take place via a secure server and are overseen by the British Esports Federation. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

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IT and Esports lecturer Martin Birch-Foster says students won’t just be playing games – they are developing transferable skills that can lead to Level 3 courses and then university, apprenticeships and jobs in the IT sector.

The course has already proved popular at Richard Taunton’s sister college in Gosport, St Vincent, where it was launched two years ago.

"Some parents were unsure about the course at first but we’ve been able to show them that when you break down the units of what they are learning, the playing games side is very little," said Mr Birch Foster.

"Otherwise it’s a business, media, sport and IT course. We spoke to some universities and they said they would take people from our Esports course on to sport, IT, business and media degree courses."

Students will study in a purpose-built classroom on gaming PCs with reclining chairs and light-up keyboards.

Health and wellbeing will be a major part of the ten-unit course where students will be learning about fitness, healthy eating and looking after themselves, just like any other athletes.

The college will have its own Esports team, to be named by the students at the start of term, which will play against other colleges and schools across the country.

The Esports industry is worth more than £1 billion worldwide and is set to quadruple in the next ten years.

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