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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 09:30 GMT
Football centres boost learning

elland road Elland Road hosted one of the first study centres


After-school centres at football clubs appear to be having a remarkable effect on children's academic work in England.

A study of the first six Playing for Success schemes based at clubs has shown primary pupils' reading scores improved by the equivalent of six months, and mental arithmetic by four months.

The first pupils to attend Barnsley's and Bolton Wanderers' centres exceeded their predicted achievement levels in tests at the end of primary school.

As many girls as boys took part in Playing for Success and benefited equally in terms of attitude and performance, the study shows.

jacqui smith Jacqui Smith: Compelling evidence
The schools minister Jacqui Smith announced the research findings as she opened the latest study support centre, based at Huddersfield Town's McAlpine Stadium, on Thursday morning.

This brings to 28 the number of centres now open at clubs in the FA Carling Premiership and First Division of the Nationwide Football League.

Another dozen clubs plan to open centres, which offer facilities for children to reinforce numeracy and literacy lessons after school hours.

Making up lost ground

Ms Smith said today: "The results are beginning to speak for themselves.

"It can be hard for a child lacking literacy and numeracy skills to make up lost ground.

"But this evaluation report of the first six centres has shown that children who need a little extra help can be motivated when you use the magic of football as an environment in which to learn. Learning can be fun."

The evaluation was carried out by the National Foundation for Education Research.

It also found an improvement among secondary pupils, whose reading scores improved by eight months and mental arithmetic by two months.

The centres get 3m a year in government funding.

Internet-linked

One of the first schemes was at Leeds United's Elland Road ground. It has now served 240 children.

Each 10-week course involves 60 children from 23 primary and four secondary schools in south Leeds.

A new suite of rooms has had 50,000 of equipment installed.

It is linked to the internet and has software to support literacy, numeracy and information and communications technology.

It runs six days a week, after school until 7.30pm and on Saturday mornings.

The centre picks up the children at school, and drops them off at home afterwards.

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See also:
10 Nov 98 |  Education
Homework cut for youngest pupils
14 Sep 99 |  Education
After-school clubs win 80m expansion

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