To celebrate World Book Day on 1 March, Notts County FC Football in the Community have launched a brand new Premier League Primary Stars video with the main focus on their Reading Stars programme.
The 10-week course, delivered in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, is a reading intervention programme for targeted Year 5 or 6 pupils who are underachieving in reading or are not motivated to read.
FITC coaches use football-related resources and texts from the Premier League Primary Stars (PLPS) programme with the aim to engage as well as improve pupils’ reading attainment and their attitude towards reading.
In the current academic year, FITC are working on PLPS with more than 750 pupils in schools across Nottingham, including Whitemoor Academy, where the filming took place.
Louise Dewsbury, Leader of Wider Curriculum at Whitemoor Academy, said: “The Reading Stars programme has been really successful for our Year 6 boys because, although quite capable readers, some of them are sometimes more reluctant to read so we’ve used that programme to develop their passion and their interest in reading.
“The pupils are always really excited whenever Football in the Community are in. They have a brilliant relationship with the coaches that come in and see them as really good role-models, so that’s made a massive difference to our pupils,” she added.
Josh Stevenson, FITC's Project Coordinator, added: “Through the Reading Stars sessions I have witnessed a great improvement in the children, both in their reading and communication skills but also their attitude towards others and learning.
"I feel through the interactive learning we do during our sessions and being able to relate our learning to sport and football in particular, the boys have shown they can stay focused when learning and have a better attitude towards their work.
"This has also been shown in their reading levels as they’ve made excellent progress in recent assessments."
Jo Toone, mother of a Year 6 Sports Ambassador at Whitemoor, also commented: “I think for children that do sometimes struggle to engage with school on an academic level - to have that to look forward to - encourages them to attend school and to focus and learn."
Notts players visited Whitemoor Academy on the day of filming, giving the PL Reading Stars group the opportunity to interview them.
Jonathan Forte said: “When I was at school and got introduced to a footballer it was great. You wanted to be them, you were going to listen to whatever they had to say.
"I think you’ve got to send the message that education is important because, at the end of your career, there’s a big wide world where you’ve got to go and get a job so you’ll need good education for it.”
Midfielder Noor Husin added: “I think good education is vital in terms of the discipline it teaches, which links well with children’s dreams to become a footballer.
"If you use sport, which a lot of kids do like, to get them into it, then once they enjoy that, they might look to do other things as well as sports.”
On-loan Liverpool midfielder Matty Virtue also commented: “When you’re a young kid, most of the time you do just want to play sport so if this can help them encourage those subjects [English, Maths, PSHE], then it’s all for the better.”
To find out more about the programme, please click here.