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Aberdeen FC Community Trust scheme supporting King Edward school

By Kyle Ritchie

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King Edward Primary School is getting set for the new season working with Aberdeen FC Community Trust’s (AFCCT) Partner Schools Initiative.

A total of 23 schools from across the north-east have now signed up for the 2020/2021 season with each school choosing from a range of programmes, offered through the scheme, which best suits the needs of their pupils.

The overall goal of this partnership, which sees the trust’s coaches work directly with pupils, parents and teachers, is to help close the poverty-related attainment gap by drawing on the passion for football.

Aberdeen FC Community Trust's coaches work with schools across the north-east.
Aberdeen FC Community Trust's coaches work with schools across the north-east.

In the past two years, the trust has successfully worked with 14,000 children, many of whom require behavioural, emotional, and social support.

The projects are run in association with schools, breakfast clubs, after-school and community clubs, and other education projects. They have been proven to reduce absenteeism and lateness, raise attainment levels, improve pupil health and wellbeing and encourage participation in their local communities.

The partnership programme has made such an impact that AFC was named Best Professional Club by UEFA in its 2019 Grassroots Awards.

Schools are allocated pupil equity funding to provide support to their pupils. The decision on how or where to use that funding is up to the discretion of the head teacher.

The schools which have opted to be part of the partnership understand the value that it can bring to their pupils, with many already seeing at first-hand the positive impact it has had.

Audrey Clark, a Dons fan herself, is head teacher at King Edward Primary School.

She said: “We signed up for the Better Playground Play sessions with AFCCT last year to not only help our pupil’s learn new skills in a positive environment and to keep them active during break times but we wanted them to take more responsibility, show respect, build leadership skills and resilience, all very important aspects of our school values.

“These key messages shone through in all the sessions and continued even through lockdown with a package of ‘Donline’ learning that saw the children willingly take on challenges and activities with the support of the AFCCT coaches.

“I had no hesitation in signing King Edward school up to the sessions again as we feel as a school community that the great progress made so far should be built on and it is a perfectly tailored programme to support the children’s health and wellbeing following the school closure.”

The coaches who go into the schools and clubs are positive role models for the pupils and by capturing their attention through football-related activities they can encourage them to come to school on time to attend their classes, help them learn how to cope with any behavioural or emotional issues and teach life skills such as team-work and communication.

Partnership and Business Development Manager at AFCCT Robbie Hedderman said: “Lockdown has been an incredibly difficult time for schools as they have seen so much change in how education needed to be delivered.

“I have so much admiration for the headteachers and their staff as they have worked so hard to continue to engage with their students online and have been very creative in their approach to do this.

"We have done our utmost to support this hard work by delivering programmes such as PE at Pittodrie and supported schools online learning with our fun AFCCT @ home workbooks.

“Through discussions with headteachers, the common opinion amongst all is that when schools return after summer there is going to be a greater need for support for the young people of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

"We are delighted to be able to play our part in supporting our partner schools and are looking forward to supporting the young people in these schools over the coming year.”

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