How PL Primary Stars made a bookworm of Harlee

9 Oct 2018

The Premier League programme and Derby County helped one schoolboy develop a love of reading

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Not many things get in the way of Harlee and his beloved football.

"I love football to bits," the Year 6 pupil says. "Say I had to pick between £1,000 or a day of football, I would choose football every time."

That enthusiasm was not quite so evident during parts of the school day, however, especially when it came to picking up a book.

"He would play all day, every day," says Carol O'Rafferty, Deputy Head at Harlee's school, Bishop Lonsdale Primary, in Derby. "He just wasn't quite so keen on reading.

"Harlee saw reading as a chore rather than something he really enjoyed."

Harlee's attitude to reading changed when Bishop Lonsdale started working with the Derby County Community Trust and Premier League Primary Stars.

PL Primary Stars Reading Stars

Using his love of football, the Community Trust coaches got Harlee into reading through the PL Primary Stars Reading Stars programme.

This is a 10-week course, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, designed for reluctant readers by using a range of fun activities and incentives.

"The first week, he didn't take a book home," says Derby coach Zack Yates. "And then as the weeks went on, he started to take more books home with him, started to read longer books, started to get involved in more of the questions and more of the lesson."

And in just a short space of time, inspired by one of Dan Freedman's novels about a football-mad 13-year-old called Jamie Johnson, Harlee has come to love books almost as much as the beautiful game.

"I feel like I'm learning new things because it's just like a whole new level of reading," Harlee says.

"On the Jamie Johnson book, I wanted to read all afternoon and forget lessons just so I could finish it."

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