Year 8 students who are taking part in the Premier League Reading Stars programme were rewarded for their enthusiasm, dedication and progress with a trip to the Manchester United stadium at Old Trafford.
The Reading Stars programme aims to stimulate children who love football to engage with and achieve in literacy, building on evidence that footballers can influence the way young people view reading.
The day of activities at Manchester United saw the students participate in workshops with authors Alan Gibbons and Tom Palmer as well as a tour of the stadium and a trip to the museum to see some of the shirts and boots worn by United Legends such as David Beckham, Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand.
As part of the campaign, all 20 Premier League clubs have a reading star. Locally, Manchester United defender Paddy McNair is helping youngsters kick off a whole host of literacy challenges. The 20-year old is helping children to tackle reading tasks and has set a variety of reading challenges for youngsters.
All players taking part in the campaign select their favourite book from their childhood, as well as a current book they are reading, with Paddy choosing Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Rio Ferdinand’s #2Sides autobiography.
Speaking of his involvement, McNair said: “Reading is so important for everybody in education, no matter what their age. I remember reading loads of great books throughout school and I still enjoy reading a good book. It’s great to be able to help encourage more young people to start reading.”
Paddy added: “I especially like players’ autobiographies because you get to learn about their background, what they do off the pitch and their life experiences, in order to help you make the right choices.”
“The Reading Stars programme has been designed for reluctant readers. It targets pupils who love football but don’t see the relevance of reading to their lives. For any fan, learning about the current season is hugely appealing and we use that appeal to stimulate reading and build reading stamina,” explained Mr Jamie Sharrock who is leading the project at Saint Paul’s. “The students have embraced the project and it’s been fantastic to see how they have become much more interested in reading. In addition to reading more, their writing has also improved with much better use of vocabulary and more considered sentence structures.”
Mr Tony Billings, Executive Head Teacher at Saint Paul’s said: “We have been delighted to see the positive impact of this innovative programme that uses the motivational power of football to inspire children, to read more. It’s a project that has also been effective in transforming the students’ attitudes towards literacy by engaging their passion for football and helping to inspire a love of reading.”