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Albion in the Community supporting children’s learning

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Albion in the Community (AITC) is using the appeal of Brighton & Hove Albion and the Premier League to inspire and engage children in the classroom. With more than 140 schools in Sussex benefitting from the work of AITC each year it has never been more important than ever over the past 12 months with increased pressure on schools and children.

One beneficiary of the support AITC is providing in schools is Igor Piotrowski, an eight-year-old who attends St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school in Brighton.  Igor is part of the charity’s Premier League Primary Stars initiative that helps girls and boys aged 5-11 in the classroom, the playground and on the sports field.  This creative programme connects learning to the real world of sport to enthuse pupils when tackling challenging personal, social and health education (PSHE) topics such as resilience, diversity, self-esteem and fair-play or literacy and maths problems.

Igor has been working with AITC’s sports mentor Tom in PSHE and numeracy interventions, one-to-one reading, and a football lunch club to work on his listening and communication skills.

Igor loves football and has shown great enthusiasm for the charity’s sessions within his school.  He has learnt about teamwork and understands everyone has a part to play in a team, showing that he can inspire others and be fair and let others have a go too.

Igor told us: “It’s been really fun and really cool. Tom and the Albion have helped me massively. When I was selected, I was very excited and felt like my dreams had come true. I have learnt new things and I have enjoyed the squad packs in numeracy. Using footballers and Brighton has been really good and helped improve my maths skills. I learnt about their different nationalities, their positions and date of births.”

The charity was so impressed with Igor’s commitment and determination to better himself in the programme that they nominated him for a Premier League Primary Stars award as part of the Premier League Communities 10-year anniversary celebrations. Igor described collecting the award as ‘the best day of my life’ and he was a worthy winner.

His class teacher agreed: “AITC provide the kind of experience that can only come from outside the school – a motivational boost that reinforces our ethos by showing children how that ethos is shared by the wider community. Igor has become a more constructive talk partner, a better team worker and a stronger sportsman. He marshals his team in our tag rugby games with great positivity, but also his improved listening in class is marked and his friendship group on the playground has broadened. He is very keen to be involved and returns from the group able to explain what he has taken from it.”

Working in schools is a key pillar of the support that the charity provides in the local community. AITC’s school’s manager Rob Josephs explains: “We believe football has a powerful role to play in supporting children to be active, to contextualise their learning and to build their core strength and confidence in who they are and what they can achieve.

“We hold a privileged position and status as a Premier League football club amongst children and young people and this can be used as a creative tool to inspire and engage them in their learning. We can come alongside schools and teachers and offer a unique and different experience.”

A recent example of providing these unique moments was an appearance from Adam Lallana, AITC’s community ambassador, who dropped into a session at Breakwater Academy in Newhaven to answer questions over Zoom.  Children spent half an hour grilling Adam with questions about his favourite goal, who was the best team he played against and his favourite film. He was then shown the work they had been doing using fantasy football to spend a budget on footballers as part of their numeracy lesson.

Most recently, with the latest lockdown in place in January and February, AITC played its role in distributing 125 laptops to schools within Brighton & Hove that had been donated from the Albion as One fund to help schools facilitate home learning.

From the practical to physical and emotional support for schoolchildren throughout Sussex, football is playing its part to inspire the next generation in their learning.

If you would like Albion in the Community to work in your school, please email: schools@albioninthecommunity.org.uk or visit albioninthecommunity.org.uk/schools for more information.

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