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Salford primary pupils take part in the Foundation’s first Reading Stars Festival

A group of 18 pupils from St Paul’s Primary School in Salford have been rewarded for their improved literacy skills and reading confidence with an invite to the first Reading Stars festival at the Theatre of Dreams.

| by Thomas Jones

The primary school pupils have been part of a successful pilot that sees the Premier League's Reading Stars campaign delivered to primary school pupils by Manchester United Foundation coaches.

The day of activities saw the youngsters participate in a football session on the Apollo 3G pitch as well as a tour of the stadium and a trip to the museum to see some of the shirts and boots worn by United Legends such as David Beckham, Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand.

The Premier League Reading Stars campaign, run in conjunction with the National Literacy Trust, aims to narrow the reading attainment gap between pupils who are at the expected reading level for their age and those who are underachieving. It's a project that has also been effective in transforming the boys' attitudes towards literacy by engaging their passion for football and helping to inspire a love of reading.

Sue Mercer, a year five teaching assistant at St Paul's primary school, explained the impact the project has had on the group. She said "We initially chose some boys who were really reluctant readers and the boys have embraced the project. There's certainly been an increase in the amount of reading and interest because of football. This project also comes with benefits such as their writing improving; their sentence structures are improving and the change in their vocabulary has been really great to see.”

Sue also explained how important the visit to Old Trafford was for the year 5 pupils. She added "This is a big thing for the children. The opportunities are not always there for every child in their home life and as a school we like to make sure the opportunities such as today are afforded to everybody.”

Jordon Gee, the Foundation coach leading the pilot project, was keen to emphasise the difference made by delivering as a Manchester United coach.  She said "In the first session, participants were really unsure of what the programme entailed which lead to few tears and some initial refusal to participate. However the introduction of delivering as a football coach and making the club part of the learning materials helped the perspective of the whole group change and it became a positive experience for every pupil over the course of 10 weeks.”

Find out more about the Premier League Reading Stars campaign at: