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Chelsea completes FA Premiership line up
A Government programme that uses sport to improve young people's literacy, numeracy and computer skills is celebrating its 5th anniversary with the news that Premier League club Chelsea is one of the latest football clubs to join the programme.
Chelsea's decision to join the Playing for Success scheme means that every FA Premiership football club is now involved in helping to raise standards among pupils by holding lessons in their sports grounds to stimulate youngsters' interest to learn.
Playing for Success Centres use the environment and medium of football and other sports as motivational tools. They focus on raising literacy, numeracy and ICT standards amongst KS 2 and 3 pupils (9 to 14 year olds) who are struggling a little and often demotivated. Typically, each pupil attending has 20 hours provision at the centre over a term. Each centre is run by a Centre Manager (an experienced teacher usually seconded from the LEA), supported by FE/HE students and others in the role of tutor/mentors. All centres have first class ICT facilities.
Pupils make practical use of learning at the centres, for example by measuring the pitch or calculating the capacity of the stadium. Their activities include answering questions based on the sport, interviewing players, and writing features for a club's matchday programme.
Research shows that participation in Playing for Success can fast-track primary pupils' numeric skills by up to 17 months on their starting level, and secondary pupils' by two years. Reading comprehension can also be increased by up to eight months. And gains made by underachieving pupils brings their attainment much closer to the level expected for their age group.
Recently-promoted Plymouth Argyle joined Chelsea in signing up to the initiative, taking the total number of clubs involved up to 103. The clubs come from a range of sports including football, rugby and cricket. Between them they have helped more than 100,000 pupils do better at school.
A number of sports stars including Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have supported the initiative:
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said: ''Arsenal is very proud of our community programme and it is important that we continue to contribute towards the success of Arsenal Study Support, which is a fantastic initiative. I think a football club is like an iceberg, you only see a little part of it, which is the football team. However, beneath that little bit, there is a tremendous amount of work at other levels and that includes a huge contribution to the community. The Arsenal Study Support Centre gives children the opportunity to be educated in an Arsenal environment, which gives them all great experience."
At Manchester United, Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "The 'Playing for Success' initiative at Old Trafford is a brilliant idea. Our club has a proud history of developing young players to perform and succeed at the highest level. Encouraging young people from local schools in the community to be more enthusiastic about their learning is a goal that Manchester United will always support."
Dennis Wise, Millwall Player/Manager and former England midfielder said: "Millwall is proud to be part of such a good scheme, and long may it continue. "So many kids love sport, and it makes perfect sense to use their enthusiasm for it to help them learn. Playing for Success is a great way to get kids involved in their local team while helping them do better at school."
Ian Blackwell, England and Somerset County Cricket Club all rounder said: "This is an excellent scheme which has clear benefits for all involved. It is great to see youngsters learning through the medium of cricket.
Michael Carrick, West Ham United midfielder said: "The best thing about Playing for Success is seeing the excitement on young people's faces when they come to the ground and meet players. It's a good scheme which is achieving great things and West Ham United Football Club are proud to be a part of it."
Mark Wainwright, Warrington Wolves and Scotland Rugby player, said: ''The highly established community programme at the Wolves is one of the reasons why I signed for the club. Playing in the Rugby League is a short career and I'm looking to get more involved in the community-based work, including great schemes like Playing for Success, in the future."
Speaking at a reception in the House of Commons to celebrate the 5th anniversary, Mr Clarke said: "I am delighted that every FA Premier League club is now part of Playing for Success, which is going from strength to strength and making a real impact on children's education.
"Sport is a great way to engage pupils in lessons, and Playing for Success has proved to be extremely popular with pupils, schools and sports clubs. It is a vital part of our drive to raise standards across the board.
"We wanted 100 clubs on board by 2006, and have already exceeded that, which is a tribute to the success and popularity of the initiative, I'd like to welcome Chelsea and the other clubs that have recently joined up. It is good news for us, them, and most importantly the many children it will benefit."
Funding is based on a partnership between DfES, LEAs, clubs and local business. Some centres are also part funded by the Football Foundation which is contributing 1m pa to PfS for at least 3 years to bring in lower league football clubs subject to DfES matched funding. Government funding for 2004-05 is 9m. Playing for Success was launched by the Prime Minister and David Blunkett in 1997 as a partnership between the DfES (then DfEE), LEAs and the FA Premier League.
The Government runs Playing for Success in partnership with local education authorities, professional football and other sports clubs. For more information, visit www.dfes.gov.uk/playingforsuccess
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