More than a game

How Chelsea helped Ruby become 'heart of the classroom'

By Mark Orlovac 27 Feb 2024
Premier League Primary Stars, Chelsea, Ruby

Find out how one pupil became more engaged at school with the Chelsea FC Foundation and PL Primary Stars

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Last year, Castle Hill Primary School pupil Ruby wasn't getting the most out of school.

Now, thanks to Premier League Primary Stars delivered by Chelsea FC Foundation, she has found a way to channel her love for football into her daily school life and her attitude to learning has been completely transformed.

We spoke to Chelsea FC Foundation coach Victor Odeyemi and the people closest to Ruby, her parents Sarah and Kevin, as well as Year 6 teacher and deputy head Iain Davis, to hear how the Premier League's primary school education programme helped her.

Sarah: "Ruby didn't want to go to school. It wasn't a struggle, she was doing well, but she'd say every single day, 'I don't want to go to school.'

"She would go but she'd complain. However, when it came to football, Ruby would be completely different, she would get so excited."

More than a game PL Primary Stars

Victor: "We started seeing Ruby when she was at the start of Year 5. There were a group of 10 children who weren't engaged in education, reading and writing.

"We got them to produce a school magazine and as Ruby is a very keen footballer and is completely obsessed with the Chelsea women's team, that's what she wrote about. Without even realising it, she was taking part in literacy and writing tasks.

"She did her research and her focus in those lessons was unbelievable because it was something she wanted to do. She created this whole two-page article about the women's team.

"We wouldn't have imagined her doing that before. From there, Ruby has done so many things."

Ruby: "I have taken part in maths and anti-racism sessions. I was part of the Premier League Primary Stars Kit Scheme launch at Cobham where we had our photo taken with the Premier League Trophy and met lots of the players - it was a really good day.

"I've interviewed Chelsea Women players for a Junior Blues takeover ahead of the match against Liverpool, and I've also been a mascot at a Women's Super League match when I walked out with Fran Kirby. She was really nice. It made me feel very special.

"We played our first school match and it was at Chelsea's training ground. We won 6-2 and I scored a hat-trick!"

Iain: "I've been Ruby's teacher since September and I've really noticed her drive, not just in terms of sport, but in terms of her academic success.

Premier League Primary Stars, Chelsea, Castle Hill

"She works incredibly hard and is completely engaged in school, whatever the lesson. She's the heart of the classroom. 

"Before Christmas, I took her to the head teacher because her maths work was utterly brilliant; neat with plenty of attention to detail. 

"The big message for me is that this has come about from her engagement with sport.

"She put herself forward to be a prefect as well as head pupil. Would she have done a year ago? I don't think she would have had the confidence. Ruby is the kind of child who makes a start on their homework right away after I hand out homework on a Friday, or will take the marker out of my hand to start modelling maths on the whiteboard.

"She's just a fantastic child and to have a targeted programme for this sort of stuff is brilliant, because she has a huge amount of potential. Her trajectory in life is looking really positive."

Premier League Primary Stars, Chelsea, Ruby

Kevin: "When we hear her class teacher talk about her, we're massively proud.

"Getting Ruby to tell us about what she did at school was like getting blood out of a stone, but it's so different now. She is willing to tell us what she's doing.

"She's got so much more involved. It's given her a really good start, a good direction.

"The opportunities she's had, the things she's done, that's all through Victor and the Chelsea Foundation. She's a lucky girl. We can't thank the Foundation enough." 

Ruby: "I've really enjoyed working with Chelsea. I have changed a lot. My lessons are better and so is my concentration. They have supported me and encouraged me and I have a lot more confidence now."

Premier League Primary Stars, Chelsea

Iain: "Having Chelsea and PL Primary Stars involved in our school makes a big difference. It's been really positive. Not just academically but to the ethos of the school such as developing our pupil leadership through playground leaders. 

"Targeted intervention is vital to those that need that specific help. For example, we've had a Premier League Magazine Team group for those who need extra support with their reading and writing. To see the impact of that was phenomenal.

"Without Victor and the Chelsea FC Foundation coming in, those opportunities probably wouldn't be there for some of our pupils.

"Chelsea FC Foundation coming in with PL Primary Stars is a huge enhancement of curriculum. We've been incredibly lucky. I don't think we'd be where we are today without them.

"And to any school thinking about PL Primary Stars, I'd highly recommend it."

What is Premier League Primary Stars?

Premier League Primary Stars is the Premier League's primary school education programme, using the appeal of football to support children to be active and develop essential life skills. It is available to every primary school in England and Wales, with over 19,000 schools engaged with the programme. More than 1.3million school sessions and events have already been delivered.

Funded by the Premier League, through the Premier League Charitable Fund, the programme has enabled over 68,000 teachers to use resources for English, PSHE, PE and Maths, to help children to be active and develop essential life skills. There are 650+ free resources available.

Currently 104 professional football club charities from the National League to the Premier League run in-classroom Premier League Primary Stars sessions in local schools, with over 18m attendances by primary school pupils.

To find out more about delivering the programme in your school, please visit

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