“It’s about improving their feelings of self-esteem and confidence, encouraging them to take ownership and be independent and also work as part of a team.”
The words of Wolves Foundation education officer Liam Turner as regards the aims and ambitions of the Premier League Inspires project for young people aged between 11 and 25.
PL Inspires is an education programme set up in 2019 which sees clubs work in partnership with the Premier League, PFA and the Prince’s Trust to provide additional support to inspire children and young people to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes to succeed in life.
With young people today facing so many ever-changing challenges, including issues around mental health, schools in particular can face many additional pressures and strains on their ability to provide pastoral care and emotional support.
Wolves Foundation deliver PL Inspires in partner schools who select students who they feel may feel disengaged or struggling with confidence, who would benefit from being part of a school group undertaking the 12-week programme.
“It is about bringing benefit to those students who may just be feeling disengaged at school, or may have lower self-esteem or confidence and just need support to develop their skills and get them ready for progressing through school and after they leave,” says Liam.
“We try and achieve this through a variety of different methods, giving advice and guidance in terms of specific projects but also then letting them take ownership and take it on themselves.
“One really successful part of PL Inspires has been social action projects where the students give something back, either by fundraising for charity or going out into the community and working in areas such as mental health.
“We work on modules towards gaining an accreditation in personal development and employability skills, so they have the opportunity to gain a qualification as part of the programme.”
During the pandemic the Foundation’s delivery of PL Inspires has been a mixture of face-to-face or online, depending on the restrictions and school preferences, but they are now hoping for a closer return to normality as things hopefully improve.
“We see a real difference in the students as they go through PL Inspires,” adds Liam.
“Their self-esteem and confidence grows as well as a feeling of independence, but at the same time they see the value of working as a team.
“They feel a real sense of positivity from having that ownership of what they are doing, and build the skills and foundations which they can take forward after the course has finished.”
Even in the last week or so various activities have taken place as part of PL Inspires including students at S. Peters Collegiate Academy having to show their organisational, time management and indeed directing skills by creating a short film about bullying.
Miss Wheatcroft, a teacher at S. Peter’s, says: “This has given students a chance to mix with others they wouldn't perhaps normally choose to work with.
“They've worked with staff from outside of school and they have identified strengths that perhaps they didn't know they have.
“They've definitely built their team working skills massively and it’s been a really positive experience for them.”
A session at Highfields School involved discussing interpersonal and self-management skills while a girls group at Coppice School were able to douse their teachers in buckets of water in a ‘spongeathon’ as part of a fundraising campaign also including baking pancakes and mixing milkshakes to sell which raised over £450 for the Foundation’s Feed Our Pack project.
Mr Lally, from Coppice, added: “It has helped the group by going out into the community which has also made them more aware of the environment in school, for example if there are things like litter issues.
“I think it has made a few of them grow up a quite a lot as well, having positive impact on them being able to communicate, and becoming a lot more mature as well as a result.”
To find out more about whether your school could benefit from Wolves Foundation’s PL Inspires programme, email LiamTurner@wolves.co.uk