Brighton & Hove Albion are pleased to announce a new educational partnership between the Sir Robert Woodard Academy and the club's academy, at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
The academy and school are already reaping the rewards of what is a fledgling tie-up and Albion's education, welfare and player services manager, Sue Parris feels the new relationship will benefit both parties.
She told seagulls.co.uk, "Initially it’s about sharing expertise; the football club is very keen to stress the importance of education to all our Academy players and we ensure all our apprentices are educated to level 3, A-Level or equivalent, ensuring players have options to pursue when their football career comes to an end.
"Equally important, the school is a registered exam centre, so we are able to re-examine those boys needing to retake their English and/or Maths GCSEs.
"We educate the Academy players at the training ground using staff of our own, however it’s equally important to be linked to a school that shares our philosophy and has access to contemporary educational protocols so we can keep abreast with current practice and policy alongside putting our own stamp on how we educate and holistically develop our players."
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The school’s principal, Peter Midwinter, echoed Parris’s sentiments and stressed how vital it is for the school to be linked with as many different local businesses and organisations as possible.
He added, "It’s a very exciting partnership. After our initial discussions with Sue Parris, we quickly realised that there was a similar understanding and philosophy with regards to how important education is to a young person who is pursuing a football career.
"We are a community-orientated academy compared to a few years ago when the school was very insular. Ever since I became principal I wanted to take advantage of any opportunity to work with people, organisations and businesses that will bring enrichment to our school."
Midwinter then spoke about the exciting prospects for the future and how the school and football club are constantly thinking of ways to enrich their relationship.
"I only see the partnership growing, which is very exciting for the school and our local community. For example, the Academy’s apprentices visited the school recently and used their acquired football coaching skills with some of our students, adding value and enjoyment all round.
"There are other areas we're looking into and Sue and myself have bounced ideas around on how we can further build the link in the near future."