The Institute of Sporting Futures (ISF), an alternative A-levels, will open in September at schools and colleges in Sheffield, Hull and Leeds.
The 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion turned out to Notre Dame High School in her home city of Sheffield yesterday morning to announce it as the first host site.
ISF is a two-year post-16 programme developed in conjunction with Dame Jessica and is designed to provide young people with fast-track access to a sports coaching career.
It will be an employer-led alternative to academic programmes or apprenticeships for school-leavers who are passionate about sport.
Dame Jessica said: “I know there are a lot of young people out there who see their future in sport. Through the ISF, we hope to give them a pathway to follow that will teach the many life skills that I learned as an athlete – discipline, time-keeping, passion, planning and application, whilst at the same time giving them valuable qualification.
“At the end of the two years, our students will be ready to either work in sport or go on to further their education. I believe we will provide a lot of young people with an opportunity that currently is not readily available and will allow them to turn a passion into a career.”
The programme will combine classroom learning with work placements, coaching tours, volunteer opportunities, student events and university engagement. By the end, candidates will have a range of Level 3 and Level 2 sport and coaching qualifications.