Around Rovers

March 14, 2008

Last Thursday, March 5th, saw a major event for the Bristol Rovers Study Centre. Centre Deputy Manager and resident teacher Becky Hunter, ran a workshop on the work of the centre at the Bristol Extended Schools and Aim Higher Conference organised by Bristol LA. The conference attracted well over eighty delegates and was addressed by Duncan Goodhew who gave what would be best described as a motivational speech.

The Study Centre was opened as recently as January 2006 albeit the Football Club had already worked with several community and education based projects before the Centre opened. At Bristol Rovers the Study Centre is right at the heart of the operation at the Memorial Stadium. This ethos will be maintained in the regenerated stadium and there are plans to double the floor space of the existing resource.

Many people have asked me what the Centre is like and what does it actually do for schools and children in Bristol. It is a fully equipped learning centre with seventeen flat screen PCs and an interactive whiteboard. Each workstation also has a MP3 recorder, a digital camera and an Apple 1 Book. The young people also have access to video cameras and editing software to really help them engage with their work. In addition there are exhibition spaces around the room for the students to show their individual pieces of work.

Becky was appointed in April 2006. Originally from Liverpool I can tell with no surprises that she is an ardent football fan; Liverpool, Everton or even Tranmere? Well times past maybe but not any more. Becky is very much a Bristol Rovers Supporter who takes her place in the West Stand on match days and very seldom misses a game. Becky and Jonathan, the Learning mentor at the Centre, have worked very hard to develop a highly creative photography programme. The programme is unique to Bristol Rovers and we are quickly gaining a regional reputation for excellence in this area of work.

The work has certainly attracted the attention of another West centre with the “Pirate Image”. Based at the Cornish Pirates RU Club the centre down there have recently joined forces with the Bristol Pirates, that being us, to develop and implement an extremely innovative animation  project that will build on the photography work already in full swing at Bristol Rovers. First team coach Paul Trollope has been very pleased to become involved. Last summer you may recall that Paul set the Summer Challenge task for Looked after Children in Bristol. By DVD link Paul will be setting the task for the animation work both in Bristol and in Cornwall. We thank to Paul very much for his keen interest and support for the new collaborative project with our friends and colleagues at the Cornish Pirates.

There is a really positive buzz in the Centre these days. Dare I say it matches the general buzz around the Memorial Stadium. The togetherness, unity and momentum is extended to the Centre where the young people work on projects and use each other as a resource as well as adults to help them. Everyone uses first names and the adults are seen by the children as part of a team.

Activities at the Centre provide the students with a range of opportunities to explore their preferred learning styles. There is a strong emphasis on personalised learning and the children are encouraged to assess and evaluate their own work and provide feedback to their peers.

The Centre uses the environment of the stadium to stimulate and motivate. Creativity and self expression is paramount and there is a genuine sense of pride and achievement when the work is celebrated at the end of each term. A celebration event is held in the Uplands Suite at the conclusion of each programme. In the order of 150 people attend. Last term the certificates and prizes were presented by Rickie Lambert and Charlie Reece. Several of our Directors were there to see the success of the Centre for themselves and were left suitably impressed.

The Study Centre at Bristol Rovers has also been active in various community based activities such as Fans of the Future, where children have been admitted free to certain fixtures, and also the Kick Racism out of Football Campaign where our young supporters have led out the players on match days and been involved with poetry writing about the wonderful game.

All of the study sessions are voluntary and the young people choose to attend or as not. This is one of the major factors which distinguish us from school. One of the ways that we measure our impact is to look at attendance. If the children are not attending regularly then we are doing something wrong and not engaging them properly. The attendance rate at the Bristol Rovers Centre is over 94%. Given the odd cough or cold or two throughout the winter months this is pretty good.

From a football club point of view we are not only contributing to the education and well being of young people but also cultivating the next generation of life long supporters thus helping to ensure that Bristol Rovers will be a mainstay of the community for another 125 years at least.


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