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Football, Premier League

Inspiring Students Through Football

Football has always been more than just a sport; it is a powerful vehicle for instilling positive behaviour, developing social skills, and creating lasting friendships. For young people attending Special Educational Needs (SEND) schools, Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provisions in the Midlands, an extraordinary opportunity recently arose, courtesy of a ground-breaking regional football tournament. In collaboration with the Raleigh Education Trust and Quest Academy, ten schools came together to not only let these students represent their schools on the pitch but also to encourage interaction with peers from different areas. This unique experience served to nurture social skills, promote fair play, and build team spirit among young individuals who rarely had the chance to interact on such a platform.


One of the most significant outcomes of the tournament was that it provided a unique opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds and regions to interact and compete with each other. This tournament gave the students who don’t normally get to take part in school tournaments the chance to represent their school. Many of these young individuals had never before had the chance to meet, let alone play football together.  Such experiences are instrumental in breaking down social barriers and promoting understanding and empathy among young people.

Ryan English, Assistant Principal at Quest Academy said, “The learners joy and enthusiasm were evident throughout, and the tournament will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on all who took part. What truly stood out during this event was the exceptional standards of behaviour and respect displayed by all participants. From players to coaches, a spirit of sportsmanship and unity prevailed throughout the tournament, creating an atmosphere that exemplified the true essence of football as a unifying force.”

Football, being a team sport, naturally encourages communication, cooperation, and teamwork. For these students from such schools, the tournament provided a dynamic platform to enhance their social skills. Interacting with teammates, coaches, and opponents helped these young players improve their ability to express themselves, listen to others, and work collaboratively towards a common goal. These skills extend beyond the football pitch and can positively impact their interactions in various aspects of life, from the classroom to community settings.

Daniel Bellion from Denewood Academy commented on such positive behaviour of the participants, saying, “The spirit of the day was amazing to experience; players helping each other up, encouraging one another, cheering on other teams and being there to support teammates when it came to the dreaded penalty shootout in the latter stages!”

Daniel went on to say, “Denewood Academy and Unity Academy, part of the Raleigh Education Trust, were proud to contribute to the first Special Education Needs/Pupil Referral Unit/Alternative Provision Football Festival in the region. The opportunity to work with Football clubs, Multi-Academy Trusts, Special Schools, and Alternative Provisions from across the Midlands was incredible. A special mention must go to the teams that represented the Nottinghamshire Hub, where some of our pupils are educated – Crisp Vocational Provision (Alternative Provision), The Stone Soup Academy (Free School) and Westbury Academy (Special School). The pupils were a credit to themselves, the providers and Trust.”

The success of this heart-warming initiative would not have been possible without the invaluable partnership of the Raleigh Education Trust and Quest Academy. Their dedication to supporting young people, especially those with special educational needs, has been commendable. By collaborating with schools across the Midlands, the Raleigh Education Trust and Quest Academy has showcased the transformative power of football as a tool for social inclusion and positive behaviour.

Congratulations to Rugby Free School team, who showed great skill and determination to clinch the title. Their achievement serves as a testament to the incredible talent present in these learners, proving that with the right opportunities and support, they can shine brightly on the football field.

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