Whole new ball game as Fleet score off the field
PUBLISHED: 15:57 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 23 August 2010
AS the Fleet prepare for yet another season in the Blue Square Premier, they won t just be challenging for promotion they will also offer top-class education at a specialist learning centre. The Fleet Learning Zone, based at Ebbsfleet United s Stonebridg
AS the Fleet prepare for yet another season in the Blue Square Premier, they won't just be challenging for promotion they will also offer top-class education at a specialist learning centre.
The Fleet Learning Zone, based at Ebbsfleet United's Stonebridge Road ground in Northfleet, educates youngsters between the ages of nine and 14 from schools across Gravesham.
The free classes are part of the nationwide Playing for Success scheme. The Learning Zone was developed as a three-way partnership between the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Kent County Council and Ebbsfleet United.
It aims to help children at sessions held after school, boosting their skills in mathematics, literacy and ICT, and improving confidence and self-motivation.
Schools across the borough approach the centre and recommend certain students to take part. Groups of 14 attend the centre for one evening a week for six weeks, completing a range of interactive activities which make use of the centre's computers and other hi-tech gadgets.
Former primary school teacher Sian Spittles is the centre manager. She said: "The activities and lessons we give are all sport related or football based, but we have the ability to adapt and fit the courses to the needs of students.
"Since we opened in September we have run a number of courses, and the feedback we have got has been really good. Parents of the children and their teachers have told us that a certain child may have improved in lessons, and that they are more happy to go to school.
"You might think, how can a six-week programme improve a child's performance, but it does. The feedback proves we are making a difference."
Following a successful first year after it opened last September, the centre is now looking for more mentors to work with children during the term. It also hopes to raise its profile by attracting other sections of the community through different courses.
Miss Spittles added: "We are really pushing hard for more mentors. A mentor is an extra pair of hands. They work with the same children every week and get to know their targets
"They can be anyone from school age of Year 10 and upwards into retirement age."
Besides the Playing for Success sessions, the centre has been running a number of other courses during the day and at weekends in a bid to open it up to the wider community.
Ashley Selby, programme manager, said: "Part of my role is to organise programmes at the centre during the day and at weekends.
"We have run something called Sportiv8, which was a 12-week programme for Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) youngsters aged between 16 and 19.
"It was designed to improve their citizenship skills, as in improving their leadership, their teamwork, concentration, and business ideas. The end result is to get them into employment or further education.
"We also did some work with ARC, the Adolescent Resource Centre based in Gravesend, and we worked with youngsters for six weeks, working to improve their literacy skills, and the help they need to get back into school.
"The club have been very supportive of what we do. We have had the opportunity to interview the manager Liam Daish and a couple of the players, and at the end of the courses they get a certificate and a free ticket to an Ebbsfleet United home game.
"We now want to raise our profile as much as we can so we can benefit not only youngsters, but open up the centre to all parts of the community."
To become a mentor, or to find out more about the Fleet Learning Zone and how to get involved, contact Ashley on 07833 232644 or visit the website at fleetlearningzone.co.uk