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Friday 15 March 2013

Encouraging achievement through education

Before launch of Creating Chances report, the work Premier League does for education is reviewed

  • Arsenal's Per Mertesacker is launching the latest version of Reading Stars

Ahead of the launch of the latest Creating Chances report, which outlines the good work conducted by the Premier League and its clubs in their communities and across the globe, looks at the key work the organisation has undertaken to help people locally and globally.

Until this year the Premier League’s work has been based around five pillars: Education; Community Cohesion; International; Sports Participation and Health. In this article the focus will be on education, one of the earliest projects, which has used the power of football to encourage children and adults to improve their learning and skills.

The commitment the Premier League has made to education is: Encouraging achievement – we use the power of football to provide inspirational learning and personal development opportunities that motivate, improve skills and enhance self-esteem, encouraging educational and entrepreneurial development.

Reading Stars

Before the development of the pillars, individual projects were in place at the League and at clubs and one of the earliest was Reading Stars, which started in 2003 as a partnership between the Premier League, the National Literacy Trust, the Football Foundation and the Arts Council England.

The objective was, and remains, to use football to increase interest in and access to books among children aged 9-11. It is not focused purely on children, but also parents, whose involvement has had an impact, making them feel more confident speaking in front of other people, as well as inspiring them to improve their own skills and take more interest in their children’s reading habits.

With funding from the Premier League, resource packs have been produced for teachers and libraries with football-themed activities, as well as supporting training.

These projects have been backed each year by the clubs putting forward a player who recommends their favourite adult and children’s books to read. More recently this has developed where children can watch online their heroes read excerpts from their favourite books online and be set literacy challenges.

In partnership with local education authorities and councils, clubs have gone into their local schools with programmes to improve students’ confidence and get them and their parents to be more engaged with school and with each other as a family. Children and adults have been taught how the workings of a football team compare with those of a family and the skills needed to be successful in both, while football coaching sessions have been used as a means for fathers to develop parenting skills.

  • The Enterprise Challenge has given 11-19-year-olds the drive to learn about business

  • Newcastle are one of the clubs to help a local school prepare their presentation

Premier League Enterprise Academy

For older students at school the Premier League has helped to develop a range of activities and courses that allow people aged 11-19 to access the world of enterprise and business. Inspired by a model first developed by Middlesbrough the Premier League Enterprise Academy began in 2008 with a 10-week course to gain basic business skills and has used football and the access to clubs to create an inspired teaching environment that takes the learning out of the classroom and into the beautiful game.

As the success of the Enterprise Academy grew so a competition for the schools involved became a natural progression and the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, which started in 2009, has provided added incentive for students to represent their local football club for greater glory. It is now an annual event with a real-life football challenge set by the Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore to schools, who compete regionally with a “Apprentice”-style pitches to reach the finals that coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The influx of foreign players into the Premier League has been used to lift education. Many stars from overseas have boosted the learning of foreign languages by attending local schools to conduct question-and-answer sessions with students in their native tongue.

Helping people gain qualifications for work

The work is not only aimed at improving the employment prospects of students in schools. Clubs have also realised the impact of unemployment in the local region and so have reached out to adults whose job chances are restricted through a lack of qualifications to provide vocational education. Some of this education is closer to home, in terms of sports coaching; some has no association with football apart from the appeal of the club.

Whether it is to schoolchildren, young adults, the physically disabled or the unemployed, the Premier League, through its clubs, has provided the programmes, the location and the incentive for people in their community to obtain better their life choices.

For examples of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge and Reading Stars, click on the links above right

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Key Points

  • The latest Creating Chances report will be launched soon
  • looks at the five pillars that have been the base of the Premier League's work
  • In the first feature, education is looked at with the power of football used to improve people's lives