Hellesdon Sixth Form

Gabe's Story

Gabe Innes is 19-years-old. He’s the first student who has progressed from his GCSEs at Hellesdon High School, through the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation Football and Learning Course, and then onto a foundation degree in Football Coaching and Development.

Adam Drury, Gabe Inns and Stevie Bramble


Gabe’s journey is the perfect example of how The Wensum Trust is supporting young people to reach their full potential through its unique partnership with The Foundation and its other partners.

During Year 11 at Hellesdon High School, Gabe found himself unsure of what his next step would be. However, with a love of football and aspirations for a career in the sporting industry, he signed up for the Norwich City CSF Football Learning Programme.

Gabe said: “I already played a lot of football and was a big fan of Norwich City FC, so I found the course really appealing but at that stage it was touch and go whether I would gain enough GCSEs to get on.”

“It was arguably the best two years of my life, being able to play football and learning alongside it was an incredible experience.”

Gabe Inns, Former Hellesdon High Student

However, Gabe admits that without having that goal, he may not have engaged as well with his GCSEs. He said: “Signing up for the course helped me focus on my GCSEs and inspired me to get the best grades I could. It was nice to have something to aim for and I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I had to make the most of.

“I had to put a lot of work in at high school to get my grades. I had a lot of help from Stevie Bramble - Head of Curriculum at the CSF - and a lot of other people at the school to help me reach those goals.”

Through hard work and with clear aspirations for his future path, Gabe went on to get the GCSEs he needed to get on the course.

“The BTEC Football Learning Programme is not just about football. It is more broad in looking at other careers within the sporting industry. However, being a football fan, the course helped me engage with my education so much better. 

“I really enjoyed the first year - it was such an amazing experience. Going from lesson work to course work was challenging but there was some great support from all my tutors and the coaches to help us ease into that transition and it was a very positive experience.

“Within the two years, I learned so much about myself - especially that whatever I put my mind to I can do it. I think that’s a big skill to learn as before I didn’t have as much confidence in myself and thought I may struggle to learn. But I found I could easily reach out to the tutor or any of the staff to get support and they would be happy to help me. That made such a difference - especially when Covid hit. We were supported so well with the online learning. We had to really work as a team to get through that period and that really helped us progress through a difficult time.”

Gabe decided to go ahead with the BSC foundation degree in Football Coaching and Development following a presentation by The Foundation - something that at one time he thought was a distant goal.
He said: “When I started Hellesdon High School, as much as I wanted to aim to get on a degree course, I had a lot of self-doubt and didn’t think I had the ability to do it, so being able to do it now is fulfilling a dream. I’ve shown that if I put the work in, I can achieve anything I want to.”
Gabe explains that going from a ‘can I?’ mind-set to an ‘I can’ mind-set has been helped with a lot of support: “My family and the staff at Hellesdon High, Hellesdon Sixth Form and from The Foundation have been incredible. It has been such a comfortable environment where you can ask for help and the belief they have in your keeps you motivated. 
“I went in to do an English lesson with Stevie just before my GCSEs and I saw the Norwich City logo in the corner of the page and I thought ‘this could be me next year coming here regularly’ and that gave me so much inspiration.”



Now in the second year of the foundation degree, Gabe is looking to go on to do a third year to complete the full degree.

“I am really enjoying it,” he said. “It is a big challenge, it is a lot of hard work but I think the support from our tutors has been great - and having the degree centred around football makes it so much more enjoyable because it is something I love. It means I am always going to be interested in wanting to get the best grades because it feels natural.

The degree course is run via the University of South Wales but all lessons are at The Nest, taught under the watchful gaze of Head of Curriculum, Stevie Bramble.  

“It is very reassuring to know that The Wensum Trust, by working with CSF, gives you that mapped out journey and direction for your career path.”

Gabe Inns, Former Hellesdon High Student

Stevie said: “The conversation with Gabe at the start of his journey was that if he did everything he could, he would be absolutely fine. He was attending an after school revision club and we could see that he was completely committed to getting his GCSE grades. He had something to fight for. 
“Gabe had a great two years with us on the college programme. He really benefited from the staff delivering 100 per cent of contact hours over lockdown and here we are, halfway through a foundation degree and potentially going on to a full degree. The quality of his work really shows through his English writing skills. I am so proud of Gabe. We get every last bit of him, and he really buys into our ethos of ‘that’ll do won’t do.’
“Gabe is such a good example of a young lad who found his GCSEs challenging but with the right goals and the right support to reach them, he has achieved so much and the future is looking great for him."


 “The Football and Learning Programme provides unique experiences and looks at how different jobs work within the industry, rather than going down the professional player route."  

Stevie Bramble, Head of Curriculum, Norwich City CSF


At the moment, Gabe’s future says he is drawn towards a career in coaching. He currently coaches Horsford Under 15s, putting into practice the skills and knowledge he is learning through his degree.
Gabe said: “I don’t dream of being a professional footballer - I just wanted to play it as much as I can and have a career in which sport featured. Just to be involved in football still is just incredible as you are both helping people and getting the best out of others. 
“The degree gives you such a vast insight into all the careers within the sporting industry such as PE, teaching, sport placement, scouting, physiotherapy and coaching. The Foundation gives us the chance to go out and coach so we can put what we are learning into practice.” 

Gabe when he joined the CSF Football and Coaching Programme after his GCSEs

Gabe’s mum, Emma Inns, said: “Gabe found out about the CSF Football and Coaching programme at the Hellesdon High School Sixth Form open evening. As soon as his application went in, he was offered support with GCSE revision which he accepted during half-terms. He was excited about this course, as it offered a different learning experience to school and having lessons at Carrow Road gave him a renewed enthusiasm for learning.

“I know that Gabe felt a strong sense of belonging and was very well supported during his time on this course. As a parent, I have found course leaders very approachable and professional whenever I have made contact.

“Gabe was always encouraged and supported to achieve his best and this led him to be in a position to apply for the football coaching and development degree. This step felt like a natural progression as the learning style has suited Gabe, and we felt confident that the course would be well run after experiencing the BTEC programme.”

"I've been given so many opportunities"

Gabe says he’s had so many amazing opportunities on his journey that he never thought he would get the chance to do.

“One of my highlights was helping set up the Norwich City changing room for their game against Arsenal. We worked with football club staff and put the player’s kit out; making sure everything they needed was in the right places. I didn’t realise how much went into preparing for a match.

“I also had the opportunity to play FIFA with Tim Krul and Christoph Zimmerman to try out some specially adapted controllers which make it possible for disabled people to take part in gaming. It was definitely a lot easier to play them at FIFA than it would have been to play them on the pitch.

“We also went to Wembley for the day and had a stadium tour. It was incredible to see how it all works - and we got the chance to play against the Arsenal equivalent of our course and had a tour of the Emirates stadium. 

“These were definitely once in a lifetime opportunities which I will never forget.”

“For those who may see this as just a football course where the students just play football, you have got a young man here who has improved their GCSE grades, got their equivalent of three A-Levels and is now doing a degree. The football is the nice bit along the way which helps engage them with their learning and gives them a broad range of future career opportunities in sport.”

Stevie Bramble, Head of Curriculum, Norwich City CSF

If you want to follow in Gabe's footsteps, or for more details about the CSF programmes, click here.