In 2012, Lornshill Academy in Clackmannanshire became the first school to run a School of Football programme exclusively for girls. This programme continues to provide all girls opportunities to develop physically and socially through the medium of football. The Scottish FA, Clackmannanshire Council and the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities have worked in conjunction to ensure provision of a quality sporting programme underpinned by educational principles appropriate to participants’ age and stage.
In total there are 47 girls involved in football in Lornshill Academy, 36 of which are in S1-S3 and currently play within the Girls Football Academy. On top of this, 11 female pupils are involved in various roles including assisting at tournaments and coaching younger players.
The holistic nature of the Girls’ Football Academy has been very exciting in terms of providing the girls involved with opportunities which link with a Curriculum for Excellence. Focusing on performance, as well as other aspects such as confidence, leadership, social skills, and responsibility has given those involved added opportunities to meet Experiences and Outcomes, which enrich and deepen their learning and understanding. The Football Academy is set up in such a way that football is used as the vehicle for enhancing learning of skills and competencies which the girls are building on in other areas of the school.
Content to be delivered in the Girls’ Football Academy was created in union with the current Scottish FA School of Football programme as well as drawing from some of the programmes currently running in the girls’ and women’s department. In addition to regular practical sessions, theory sessions have been delivered in accordance with the Scottish FA classroom programme as well as content being adapted from current PSE provision within the school. The opportunity to discuss topical issues relevant to a group of girls of the same age has been unique and invaluable. Subjects such as Women in Sport, self image, relationships and social media have also been introduced. Interdisciplinary learning and cross curricular links have been at the forefront of every theory lesson and homework tasks have been carefully designed to meet these elements of the Curriculum for Excellence.
Progress has been monitored over the course of the programme and has seen remarkable results in physical and social development. At the heart of the holistic philosophy of the Football Academy is the notion that focus will be on transferable skills which will allow participants to achieve success not only within the Academy but in the wider school and at home.
One first year pupil at Lornshill said:
“I have improved a lot in school, for example when presenting in front of the class or working in a group.
"My attitude has improved a lot at home and I think the Academy is helping me become a better person.”
The opinions of those involved in the programme are positive and there is a real sense of belonging, ownership and commitment to it. Indeed, the majority of the girls involved have over 90% attendance at school and a large number of girls have either attended every session or missed no more than two throughout the year. This shows the enthusiasm and sense of dedication which is apparent.
One parent commented:
“Participation in the Girls’ Football Academy has been invaluable to our daughter.
"A huge improvement to her communication, attitude to healthy lifestyle, organisation and responsibility at home in particular.”
A link has been established with a local community club, and as a result there are currently 17 members of the Girls Football Academy playing football at Tullibody Community FC; a significant increase from last year. One member also volunteers with Tullibody Community FC assisting with the delivery of sessions and gaining invaluable experience in a coaching environment. A number of girls have expressed an interest in embarking on a career involving sports, coaching or teaching following the experience they have had in the Football Academy.