Labour Enlists Football Clubs to Tackle Literacy Shortfall

Article excerpt

Switched-off youngsters scoring low marks at school would be lured back to learning at study centres in football stadiums under plans being announced by Labour today.

In the latest of a package of Labour proposals aimed at raising Britain's ranking in the literacy league, top football clubs would open their doors to inner-city pupils for evening homework sessions and lessons in the three Rs.

In return for their efforts, youngsters would be rewarded with a chance to take to the pitch afterwards for a match or for football coaching. Labour believes the initiative, developed jointly with the Premier League, could be the one answer to the problem of flagging basic- skills standards, particularly among disaffected boys. Girls are currently 10 per cent ahead of boys in GCSE exam scores, while among 11-year-olds only 57 per cent reached the expected standard in literacy. The study-support centres, each capable of accommodating between 60 and 100 children, would be launched at Arsenal, Newcastle United, Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday football clubs, though Labour expects more to come on board as the scheme progresses. Pupils would be able to attend on weekday evenings or Saturday mornings, probably for two hours at a time. With support from a mix of experienced teachers and student volunteers, primary-age children would be given timetabled literacy lessons, while secondary pupils would brush up on basic skills. …