Rugby players and coaches help inspire reading skills for Great Barford youngsters

Great Barford Academy visit to Bedford Blues
Great Barford Academy visit to Bedford Blues

Students from Great Barford Primary Academy had the chance to meet players from Bedford Blues during a project mixing sport with reading.

The Blues welcomed the students to Goldington Road to meet players and coaches as part of the community ‘Reading and Rugby’ scheme.

The programme encourages youngsters to take part in small reading groups with a rugby coach before heading out onto the field to play tag rugby. One of the most successful Blues Community projects, the aim is to inspire children from across Bedfordshire to become involved with the game while improving literacy.

New head of community Jon Phillips, who arranged the visit, said: “Our Reading and Rugby programme has proven to be extremely popular with all of the kids. Children that don’t always get the opportunity to read to a male role model at home on a regular basis and students who may have behavioural issues have found the scheme very beneficial as we are able to link the values of rugby to being able to read and interact with others.

“Our coaches listen and assist them with their reading before taking them out onto the field for a fun activity which links tag rugby with the reading. It has been really popular with the schools and it’s clear to see that the children who have taken part have definitely grown in confidence both in the class room and on the field.”

The group of 15 students made their way to Goldington Road to have a tour of the ground and facilities as well as meeting a host of first team players including Chris Czekaj, Lee Dickson, Dean Adamson and Harry Sheppard.

Sarah Evans, academy headteacher, said: “We have been working with Bedford Blues Community and the Reading and Rugby project for over a year now. As a school with a strong sporting tradition the regular coaching has been great, not only developing great skills and opportunities for the children, but the staff have found the training invaluable and their skills have also developed. We are looking forward to showing off our skills at our next tag rugby tournament.

“The project has made a huge impact on the children’s reading, particularly our more reluctant boy readers. Having a new role model has really inspired and motivated our children and great progress has been made.”

The Blues Community, which was formed in 2016, runs a range of programmes for children of all ages alongside the ‘Reading and Rugby’ programme including breakfast, lunch and after school clubs, specialised rugby training, lesson support and tailor-made projects with partners.

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