Last week I went to a London primary school nestled just behind the Arsenal Emirates Stadium, to find out more about the Premier League Primary Stars programme, which is available free to every primary school in England and Wales. I liked the sound of the free teaching resources, the values and the exciting opportunities on offer, so the next day I went straight to talk to my children’s headteacher about signing up as a school and nominated them online. You and your children can nominate your school online too, be quick, it might win them a trophy visit!
Premier League Primary Stars is a new national primary school programme that uses the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills. Clubs provide in-school support to teachers, delivering educational sessions to schools in their communities.
If you have ever helped a child to read, you will know it is the little things that make a big difference, especially with more reluctant readers. Finding something they are excited to read (the back of a cereal packet, car model names, football magazines) reading to someone other than Mum or Dad (a footballer would be pretty cool, but the dog works too) little rewards for all that effort (stickers, football cards). Primary Stars is all about providing engaging resources and books to schools, loaning footballers to help with lessons and supplying stickers, pencils and certificates to reward children with.
It’s not just about reading though, the programme covers everything from PE and maths to resilience and teamwork. The free lesson plans and resources, which tie in with the national curriculum, were created in partnership with industry experts Edcoms, the PSHE Association and National Literacy Trust.
After they had finished chatting to Gabby Logan, I chatted to children’s authors Cressida Cowell (‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series) and Dan Freedman (‘Jamie Johnson’ series) who helped create the programme’s English resources, and Sky Sports presenter and mathematician Rachel Riley who consulted on the development of the Maths resources.
“Maths is a subject that a lot of young people find challenging and is often dismissed as boring. What I love about the resources we’ve developed for the Premier League Primary Stars programme is that it makes maths relevant to children’s everyday lives.
“I’ve seen the reaction from children using the lesson plans – they are excited, interested and engaged. I think this is a fantastic programme that will undoubtedly inspire children to learn.”
As an ex teacher I have seen how the smallest changes can spark learning for even the most disengaged learners, embracing young people’s culture and interests changes the whole dynamic of the classroom. Premier League footballers popping up in your lessons is super exciting, we also heard directly from primary teachers who had used the programme:
‘When I put a video on with Wes and Ronaldo, suddenly EVERYONE is listening. Suddenly everyone is alert and wanting to learn, it’s meaningful for them, it’s cool.’
Henry Commander, Deputy Primary Head, London
Of course not everyone loves football, but as part of a varied curriculum I can see how Primary Stars brings something unique: cultural reference points from outside the classroom, the power to engage harder to reach kids, the chance to learn about resilience, diversity and team work from people who put themselves in highly challenging physical and collaborative environments every day. I loved this video we watched of Primary Stars in action in a Liverpool school, it was great to see female players involved.
Much as we can stereotype footballers, interviews with the ones featured here reveal the majority were actually brilliant role models at school:
I was very well behaved at school to be honest, maybe too well behaved.
Cressida Cowell, Dan Freedman and Jacqueline Wilson are among the all star children’s authors in the free books the Premier League are donating as part of the programme. Meeting Cressida Cowell was really exciting for me, as a writer and a mum to kids who love her books, her enthusiasm for the scheme was infectious, she explained that Premier Stars is about ‘getting 33,000 free, modern and exciting books into the hands of children’.
Cressida also pointed out that according to research, reading for pleasure is a key factor in later economic success, yet it’s becoming harder and harder to get kids to do it. At a time when many not all primary schools have libraries and all are trying to keep up with the tough competition of online media, new books are a literacy lifeline for schools.
Author Dan Freedman was disengaged with reading at school, but went on to become a successful children’s author, he spoke about engaging the disengaged being about ‘flipping it on its head, we need to think about what kids are interested in, if we want to get them reading’. Definitely check out Dan’s ‘Jamie Johnson’ books, especially if you have a football mad child!
You might have seen the Premier League’s first ever national advertising campaign featuring Kevin De Bruyne, Gary Cahill, Eric Dier, Sadio Mané, Juan Mata, José Mourinho, and Theo Walcott, if not check it out on the site here, it is set to the poem, Try, Try Again by TH Palmer. The ad highlights core values from the Premier League Primary Stars programme – to be ambitious, connected, fair and inspiring – great values for education.
You don’t need to wait until after the holidays to talk to your child’s school about accessing their free resources, you can set the ball in motion now. Nominate your school in seconds here: www.plprimarystars.com. If you nominate before 16th June you could win a Premier League trophy visit for your child’s school too. I really enjoyed finding out loads of facts about the trophy from its minders during the launch.
Disclosure – I’m working in a paid relationship with the Premier League on their #PLPrimaryStars campaign, I have full editorial control and opinions are my own.