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In pictures: How Southend United is helping kids get excited about learning
12:00pm Monday 28th October 2013 in News
A SOUTHEND school is working with Southend United to open a second centre under a scheme which gives youngsters a chance to get excited about learning.
Cecil Jones College’s second Learning Zone has just opened at its site in Wentworth Road, Southend. It follows the success of the first one, which opened two years ago on the split-site school’s Eastern Avenue premises.
The centres are run as part of Playing for Success, a Government initiative which involves schools, sporting bodies and sports clubs.
It aims to encourage children to use out-of-school-hours study centres, with a sporting theme, to improve literacy, numeracy and computer skills.
In the centres, traditional flooring is out and green Astroturf is in; magnolia walls are replaced with bright yellows and reds and huge pictures of Southend United’s ground and players.
Children who are struggling with literacy and numeracy come to the sessions from Cecil Jones College itself and from Park Primary, Hamstel Junior, Porters Grange Primary and Temple Sutton Primary schools.
Learning Zone originally started at the Blues’ Roots Hall ground in 2005, moving to Cecil Jones in 2011.
However, pupils taking part still get the chance to visit Roots Hall and meet players at presentation evenings. They sign up for six weeks of evening sessions, culminating in a presentation evening where they share their achievements with their parents.
Centre manager Annette Olford said her young charges usually seemed to warm to the use of technology such as tablet computers, electronic books, laptops and games consoles.
She added: “The kids love it.
When the parents come to the presentation evening, I always start by saying ‘please be aware your children don’t just come here to play on iPads’, because they go home buzzing about it.
“When they reflect at the presentations, they think ‘oh yeah, we did that’. The schools which send the kids say how enthusiastic they are when they know they’re coming here.”
One of the current class, Hamstel Junior School pupil Maryan Elsayed, nine, said: “It makes it all more fun.
“I liked going to the stadium, because we got to go on the grass.
We just want to know what we’re going to do, so we get really excited.”
Fellow Hamsel pupil Faith Moyo, eight, said: “I like making the badges we wear, because we got to design them ourselves and pick the photo we wanted on it.
“It’s really good, because it’s fun and we get to sit and talk to each other in groups.”
The groups are taught by Nicola Leckey, who leads the sessions, dressed in a Southend United tracksuit.
She said: “It’s really encouraging to see the enthusiasm when they first come into the rooms, because it’s so different to a normal classroom situation.
“They generally don’t know what to expect.”
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