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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 03:16 GMT 04:16 UK
Sport kick-starts learning
European Cup final
Rugby gets a chance to tackle underachievement
Rugby and cricket teams are to join football clubs in a scheme which uses sports venues as classrooms.

The government is extending a scheme which enables pupils to improve basic skills, such as numeracy and literacy skills, at out-of-school classes held at sports grounds.

Premiership teams Everton and Bradford City have announced that they are to join the 30 football clubs which have already signed up for the Playing for Success scheme, which began in 1998 .

Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell is among the soccer stars promoting the homework clubs

And six rugby league teams, including Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos, will be adding their weight to the scheme, along with two rugby union sides and three county cricket teams, including Yorkshire.

Education Minister Jacqui Smith, announcing the extension of the scheme on Wednesday, says she has been impressed by research showing that the centres have helped to raise the achievement of the 20,000 pupils who go to them.

Student helpers

Among the initiatives highlighted by the minister was Manchester United's donation of educational software to help a boy with cancer who was forced to study at home.

And Swindon Town's study centre provides 30 computers for school children to use and has so far helped more than a thousand pupils.

All the study support centres, as they are known, are equipped with information and communication facilities.

They operate out of school hours - after school, at weekends and in the holidays.

They are staffed by a manager who is an experienced teacher, and by and university or college students working part-time as classroom assistants.

Playing for Success is funded by a mixture of government money and cash from the clubs concerned, as well as other business sponsors.

The focus is on bolstering the numeracy and literacy of pupils in the upper primary and lower secondary years.

Defining 'offside'

For example, they are asked to try to explain some footballing expressions to a visiting alien - such as "dribble", "middle of the park", "a game of two halves" - and of course "offside".

Or a computer spreadsheet program might be used to graph attendances at Premiership games.

In the football clubs, an interest in the game has also been used to develop other parts of the school curriculum such as statistics, geography, history and science.

The National Foundation for Educational Research found that the centres had appealed to the right group of pupils and had raised their motivation and self-esteem as well as their academic skills.

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See also:

14 Apr 00 | Education
Man United boosts pupils' learning
27 Jan 00 | Education
Football centres boost learning
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