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Students from Accrington and Hyndburn Academies joined with Premier League star Chris Smalling to launch the new Football Beyond Borders (FBB) initiative in the North West last week. Scheme improves students’ engagement and behaviour through the medium of sport.

Founded in London and already proving successful with schools in the South East, FBB aims to improve young people’s engagement in and attitudes towards their learning through the medium of football.

Last week saw the educational charity celebrate its expansion into the North West with a special launch event held at United Learning’s Salford City Academy on 13th February, attended by the Manchester United star, as well as students from other schools including Accrington and Hyndburn Academies – both part of the United Learning group, which has already been working in partnership with FBB in a number of its southern academies.

The event itself saw those schools attending take part in a special football tournament, cheered on by Chris Smalling, the FBB coaches and their teachers, with the budding soccer stars playing some fierce football and showing off the determination, confidence and teamwork they have learnt as part of the FBB programme. In addition to their development on the pitch, the students have also received additional literacy support and classroom sessions on what makes a great leader and team player.

The tournament was followed by an awards ceremony in the main hall, where Chris presented participants with their trophies and certificates. The England International also took part in a special Q and A, whilst some students were chosen to present to their colleagues about the work they have done so far with FBB and the difference it has made to them.

Commenting on the event, Andy O’Brien, Executive Principal at Accrington and Hyndburn Academies said:

“We are very pleased to be part of Football Beyond Borders, which has made a real difference to those students taking part in the programme and which directly supports our drive to provide our students with an education with character.”

Shaun Dowling, Head of Sport at United Learning, said of the Group’s ongoing work with Football Beyond Borders:

“Through our group-wide SITUPS programme, we look to use sport as a powerful tool for school improvement and to promote key traits like determination, resilience, teamwork and respect, that will help our students thrive in school and beyond. This is not only important for improving standards across schools but in delivering an education with character to all our students – something that sport is well placed to support.

“In our pilot programme with Football Beyond Borders, we have already seen some very encouraging results, with marked improvement in students’ attendance, attitudes towards learning and overall behaviour and success in school. We are therefore pleased to be developing our partnership work with FBB to introduce the programme into schools in our North West cluster so that they can benefit similarly.”

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