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George Salter's new pitch helping pupils thrive

8 Jul 2018
George Salter Academy, Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund

See how Premier League investment at one West Bromwich school has made an impact on pupils and wider community

For the George Salter Academy in Sandwell, West Bromwich, the physical environment it provides plays a key role in inspiring its students.

More than 40 per cent of children at the Academy are eligible for the pupil premium, additional funding designed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds - many of whom face barriers and challenges to succeed in their education and beyond.

"I am a believer that you give young people a physical environment in which they can excel, and you give them outstanding teachers, they will thrive," Academy principal Adrian Price says.

"You can't encourage our young people to perform in the classroom unless you care for the whole child.

"Making sure that they have got the opportunities to develop physically and healthily alongside their studies is of paramount importance.

"The effectiveness of PE (Physical Education) is based on two things, the quality of the team and the facilities you offer.

"When the two come together the academic side improves, because children have got the opportunity to get active and let off steam."

Thanks to the Premier League, the Academy is able to offer that positive environment.

Last November, two state-of-the-art artificial grass pitches were installed with the help of a £462,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund

George Salter Academy, Tom Watson, Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund
Adrian Price (left) shows local MP Tom Watson the new pitches at George Salter Academy

"We don't have to cancel any lessons because of waterlogging or because the grass isn't cut," Price says. "We commit to two hours of PE a week and the new pitches allow us to do that."

Local MP Tom Watson, Deputy Leader for the Labour Party, recently visited the school to see the new pitches in action.

"It is great to see first-hand the effects that funding from the Premier League, The FA and the Government is having on community sports facilities," Watson said.

"I know how important grassroots football is, not just here in Sandwell, but across the country.

"It offers so much more than just a kick-about. It’s about making friends, having fun, knowing the importance of discipline on and off the pitch, learning how to win… and how to lose. These are proper meaningful skills for life."

The pitches do not just benefit the students. They also enable George Salter to forge closer links with the wider community, such as West Bromwich Albion’s Albion Foundation, which delivers the Premier League Kicks programme on the site.

"A school should be at the centre of the community," Price says. "These pitches get parents into the school for their children's clubs or for other activities.

"By crossing the threshold and seeing what a fabulous place we are, they will engage with us and their children will be happy here."

Such facilities will have a lasting impact on the pupils, Price says.

"The children are positive, vibrant, exciting and are extremely proud of their school," he says.

"When Tom Watson visited, you could see the children beaming with pride that a national figure was so interested in them.

"For a young person, knowing that people trust them with the best facilities, to use them appropriately, raises their confidence and self-esteem."

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