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Fleet kick-start classes for kids

PUBLISHED: 15:33 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:08 23 August 2010

ON THE BALL: Sian Spittles and Christian Kelly at the Learning Zone.

ON THE BALL: Sian Spittles and Christian Kelly at the Learning Zone.

WHAT do Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Ebbsfleet United have in common? They are all in the premier league for education as the Stonebridge Road outfit joins a growing list of clubs offering specialist learning centres at their ground

WHAT do Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Ebbsfleet United have in common?

They are all in the premier league for education as the Stonebridge Road outfit joins a growing list of clubs offering specialist learning centres at their grounds.

Fans of the Fleet may have noticed a new building has appeared at the home end of the team's ground. The structure is to be the home of the Fleet Learning Zone, a classroom packed with the latest in teaching technology that will be offering free after-school activities aimed at boosting youngsters' literacy and numeracy skills.

The classes are part of the nationwide Playing for Success scheme, which has already been run successfully at Margate Football Club, Kent County Cricket Club in Canterbury and Buckmore Park Kart Circuit near Chatham

Kent manager Christian Kelly, 30, and assistant centre manager Sian Spittles, 28 will run the scheme.

Mr Kelly said: "What we are trying to do is captivate the children who are sometimes lost in schools, the ones who aren't the highest or lowest achievers but the ones in the middle, and to give them a push."

The scheme was developed as a three-way partnership between the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Kent County Council and Ebbsfleet United.

Groups of 14 students aged between eight and 13 will attend the centre one evening a week for six weeks, completing a range of interactive activities making full use of the centre's computers and other hi-tech gadgets.

Miss Spittles said: "We are hoping that the children who come raise their confidence and motivation so that when they go back into school they are better equipped to be good students. Ultimately, we want to raise achievement.

"They'll be doing things like podcasting interviews with players, kicking balls and measuring the speed with speed guns. There are lots of things they can do."

Staff and players at Ebbsfleet United will also be closely involved with the scheme.

Mr Kelly said: "We get the footballers to sign the children's targets so they have somebody to look up to and the players become role models as well. The whole reason we can do this is down to Ebbsfleet United. It's really generous of them to let us put the learning zone here."

A trial scheme involving classes from two schools is to be run in November and the centre is expected to be fully operational by January next year.

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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