Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 10:38 UK

World Cup themed non-uniform day

School children go World Cup crazy

Students and staff in Warrington are wearing football shirts to school to mark the start of the World Cup 2010.

The soccer-themed non-uniform day at Culcheth High School is also an opportunity for pupils to raise money for their partner school in South Africa.

"Football Friday" is the brain child of Humanities teacher Stephen Owen who, during a visit to the link school in Soweto, noticed that in the run-up to the World Cup, workers were allowed to wear their team's shirts on a Friday.

Following in their footsteps, more than 1,200 students and 200 members of staff are sporting their favourite team's strip. Mr Owen is wearing the green strip of Bafana Bafana, and told the News Channel's Rebecca Barry, who is reporting live from the school, that it was a gift from the partner school, Matseliso High.

Many of the Culcheth High students have come to school in England colours and several pupils are sporting wigs decorated with the St George cross, but there are also some students wearing Holland, Germany, Brazil and Spain replica shirts and others dressed in Premier League club kit.

Faye, 13, is one of the students wearing red and white. She said: "It's really exciting and fun for everyone to celebrate your country and show how proud you are."

The Year 8 pupil has also been learning about South Africa in a series of World-Cup themed Geography lessons. She explained: "We've been looking at mortality rates, which are bad, and it's quite upsetting to know that so many people have this grade of life."

Friday's lesson involves re-writing the World Cup group tables according to the development level of each country. Mr Owen explained: "Students are looking at life expectancy, wages, death rates and ranking the countries from the most to the least developed. Students have already realised that England isn't top of their group, it's the USA."

Dispelling myths

Previous lessons have focussed specifically on South Africa. "Some students were shocked to learn that the stereotypes about Africa don't apply to everyone," said Mr Owen. "Many thought South Africa was a place where everyone was starving, based on images of Ethiopia from the 1990s. But when the head teacher of Matseliso High School in Soweto came to visit, they were interested to hear that he owned a car and drove to school."

Surprised by a higher standard of living than expected, the Warrington students were nevertheless aware that the Soweto students had comparatively little in the way of facilities.

Students from Culcheth High School
Daniel's, Peter's and Joel's form groups are adopting World Cup countries

Thirteen-year-old Daniel was one of the students who interviewed the Matseliso High head earlier in the year. He said: "They don't have equipment like we do. There are a few chalk boards in the classrooms and one photocopier for the whole school. They don't have much electricity and their only internet cable was stolen so they don't have access to the web. There are about 50 pupils in each classroom."

His classmate, Peter, 13, added: "Without electricity they can't do much practical work in Science and there is a lot of copying and writing down. I don't think I would like that. It makes me feel quite good, knowing that the money we raise from Football Friday will go to help the school."

One aspect of school-life in Soweto which appealed to Peter however, was the fact that classes have been cancelled for the duration of the World Cup, allowing students to enjoy the spectacle at home.


As well as learning about South Africa, each of the 32 form groups at Culcheth High have been allocated a World Cup country, and tasked with finding out more about their adopted nation.

"They have been finding out key facts and putting up flags in the classrooms," said Mr Owen "A couple of students now know where Algeria is, as a result of being in that form group."

In addition, the forms are competing against each other in a series of penalty shoot outs, beginning with "England" versus the "USA", pre-empting the real match on Saturday evening.

Culcheth High School Reporters film the BBC News Channel team in action
Culcheth High School Reporters film the BBC News Channel team in action

The school event will be caught on camera by Peter and Daniel who are making a video report for their school website. They are being assisted by Joel, 11, who has had previous film-making experience. He explained: "I am one of the School Reporters within our news team and do a lot of work to make broadcasts. We are filming people who are dressed up and editing it on the computer."

Tie-free Friday

Fortunately, the young journalists are able to concentrate on their news-making efforts as their form groups aren't due to compete in the penalty shoot out until next week. On Monday, Joel's form, the Netherlands, will play Year 9's Denmark, and Peter and Daniel's form, representing Mexico, will take on the South African Year 10s.

"The outcome of our World Cup could be very different from the real one," said Mr Owen, but whatever the result, student Peter is confident that it will be a uniting affair. He said: "The World Cup is about all countries coming together. It shows we can work together in a competitive way. It's about who's best at football, not about who's rich or poor."

As well as supporting their adopted teams, the three students are all rooting for Capello's side and wearing their England shirts to school.

"It's really good," said Daniel. "I like non-uniform days, because you don't have to do your tie or your top button up. It's a bit more fun and people are a bit more happy than on normal school days."

Culcheth High School is just one of hundreds of schools taking part in the BBC's reporting project for 11 to 14-year-olds, School Report. To coincide with the World Cup, many of these schools are focussing on sport-reporting in June and July, covering a range of sporting events from World Cup matches to school sports days.

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11 Mar 10 |  School Report



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