One of our members (Craig) was working as a teacher in an organisation called "Playing for Success" which brought them to the clubs attention. Playing for Success is a scheme part funded by the Education authority locally, part funded by a special national education fund and part funded by a sports club. Why the sports club? They provide the venue and their superstar players.
The theory goes that children can be motivated to learn things outside of school within a sports environment. The program takes 14 children each evening (56 children per 4 day week) from different schools for one term. They use a session around 2 hours long to do activities with the children that will help develop their confidence and attitude to learning. Being at the sports club means the children get to meet professional sportsmen and women and that is woven into the course as an integral part of the motivation (professional sportsmen and women are always motivated people to have reached that level).
I went to see Craig on a Thursday afternoon to find out what Playing for Success Kent is and what their goals are. They run sessions at the Kent County Cricket ground. I wanted to find out if there's any way we (as a Rotary Club) can "Do Good Things" in a focused way. Talking with Craig was interesting in itself. Craig is from Zimbabwe but had been forced to leave due to the current political troubles there. The school he was working at had a falling student roll as farms closed and people moved away so he too had to leave with his wife. He hopes to go back one day, having seen how good a teacher he is the selfish part of me would rather he stays teaching in the UK. Still, for the time being he's teaching the children at Playing for Success and the benefits of the program are instantly visible. Seeing work of past groups and the excitement generated by meeting different cricket stars, the way he handled and motivated this group, it's easy to understand why the scheme is in such demand. As they are outside of the national curriculum they can focus very much on those hidden skills of confidence and positive mental attitude. These are the things that you can't measure but intrinsically know are important.
At first glance you'd think Playing for Success has everything it needs. Great venue, all the IT equipment necessary to deliver the course. Great teachers and volunteer mentors (each class has 1 teacher and 3 volunteer mentors). The organisation is itself naturally motivated to deliver this training to as many young people as it can and to increase the use of the facility they've been running courses outside of school term time. For these courses they have to charge which means they don't get to choose the children that will most benefit from the course. One of our Rotarians suggested that if we raise funds to pay for the additional course then the additional spaces can be directed via the local Education Authority towards the children that would normally be targeted. This would definitely fall within the ethos of "Do Good Things" and as I write is still being investigated as an opportunity our club can work on.
After meeting Craig I next had to learn about Pilgrims Hospice, more reading here!