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Premier League’s Top Award for Academy Education

Tue 6th Sep 2011 | Football Club Management

Premier League education of Academy players judged 'Outstanding’ by Ofsted and awarded ‘Beacon Status’.

The Premier League will start the academic year as the proud recipient of two awards for the education it provides to young players. During the 2010/11 season the standard of learning at the 20 Barclays Premier League clubs was so high that the Premier League was accorded an ‘Outstanding’ rating by Ofsted.

As a result of that impressive inspection, the Premier League has also been awarded ‘Beacon Status’ by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, whose job it is to raise standards and achievement in the learning and skills sector in England.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects the excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. They were unequivocal in their findings of the quality of education the Premier League and its clubs provide for young people: Outcomes for learners – 1; Quality of provision – 1; Leadership – 1; Safeguarding – 1; Equality and Diversity – 1; Subject area education – 1.

Ged Roddy, the Premier League’s Director of Youth, said: “The education of players may not be something that commands the back pages but it is a duty of care issue that the Premier League and its clubs take very seriously. This recognition from Ofsted is a fantastic reward for all the hard work that has gone into improving the educational welfare of our scholars.

“The Academy system is about the development of elite players to feature in one of the toughest football leagues in the world but it is also about ensuring that every one of our players has a bright future. Nearly three-quarters of those boys will end up playing football professionally across all the English leagues, but the rest are also very well served for either further education or full-time employment. As the report notes, we develop highly rounded individuals for their age.”

The education, both on and off the pitch, is for all Academy trainees aged 16-19, on a contract with their club. The Premier League manages the work-based learning contract for Advanced Apprenticeships in Sporting Excellence (AASE) within the Premier League.

Every club Academy has a full-time head of education and welfare, and a team of coaches who deliver on-the-job training. Training is provided on behalf of the clubs by a range of providers including schools and colleges, and the programme is supported by a range of agencies including the Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick It Out.

The findings of Ofsted’s report make hugely encouraging reading. Judged previously as ‘Good’, the inspectors noted how “the Premier League demonstrates an outstanding capacity to improve”. Success rates are very high and show continuing and significant improvement over the last four years. During the 2010/11 season, 93% of learners successfully completed the apprenticeship.

As is perhaps to be expected - although it should be never taken for granted - learners make outstanding progress in developing football skills. They receive highly effective support to ensure they reach their potential in football and an incredibly high number do. During the 2010/11 season 73% achieved a professional contract and of the rest, many progressed into further or higher education or other employment through the Premier League’s Next Step Programme.

Ofsted found that we were developing highly rounded individuals for their age. They develop particularly good personal and social skills and the ability to analyse and reflect on their own progress. This includes being exceptionally well prepared to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Learners in most clubs also make a major contribution to local community schemes and activities.

The ‘outstanding’ list continued:
• Coaching, training and assessment support learning and development – “Highly qualified and experienced coaches and specialists develop particularly high levels of individual physical and technical skills…Flexible arrangements allow learners to take advantage of all opportunities to play higher level football whilst maintaining their educational progress.”
• The promotion of equality and diversity - “A strong emphasis on actively combating discrimination is supported…The Premier League fosters and ensures a very strong culture of respect.”
• Safeguarding arrangements – “The organisation protects its learners very well… Clubs receive good training and support and the Premier League actively promotes safeguarding nationally through extensive partnership working.”
• Leadership and management – “There is a clear vision and strategy to develop high level skills and education.”

The hard work done by the Premier League was also noted. It was recognised that at all levels, the Board, senior executives and managers were seen to provide outstanding leadership and management.

The report said: “The Premier League has very effectively managed the reorganisation of the programme, leading to much improved results. Leaders and managers set very high expectations for learners and staff. The arrangements for monitoring performance are very effective. Particularly effective arrangements are in place to support clubs who are relegated or promoted to ensure learners are not disadvantaged.”


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