School and club reach third anniversarySt Luke’s Science & Sports College and the Exeter City Academy recently passed the three-year mark in a fantastic working partnership.
Four years ago, Academy Manager Simon Hayward travelled with Mr Holt and Miss Sherwood from St Luke’s School in order to visit Harefield School in Uxbridge. Harefield formed the first partnership of this type to work with academy prospects at Watford Football Club, where a school and academy work together for mutual benefit.
After groundwork was done with the Local Education Authority in Exeter to ensure their guidelines were being met, St Luke’s and Exeter City formed a similar partnership in 2012.
Academy players leaving primary school are given the option of choosing St Luke’s as their secondary school. Open evenings are held to explain the programme and show players and parents the school. However it is entirely optional, with parents asked to prioritise the right school for their child based on family logistics and education as a priority, not football.
The fourth intake of students since the partnership began will be in September, taking the total number of students from the Exeter City Academy in the school to 15. There are also a similar number of students at St Luke’s who play in Exeter City’s Performance Centre. Amongst that group is Ethan Ampadu, pictured, who was recently called into the England Under-16 squad and given the St Luke’s Olympic Spirit Award.
The Academy holds trials for non-Exeter City players who attend the school, and adds players with potential into the school training group – two players from this group have been signed in the Academy in the last three years. The extra hours of training with good players and good coaching staff helped them improve to a level where they were ready to come into the Academy. In addition, St Luke’s have also performed very well in school football competitions.
Lesson timetables from the school are designed to maximise the contact hours that the players can have with the Academy, whilst having an absolutely minimal impact on their education.
They train from 3pm to 5pm twice a week, and with school finishing at 3.10pm the boys only miss 10 minutes of a lesson. They also train from 1.30pm to 3.30pm once a week and the boys miss one lesson – the school try to timetable PE in that block for as many of them as possible. The school are superb with the monitoring and mentoring and the individual support they offer to each player, ensuring that there is no danger of falling behind at school because of their football.
In addition, the entire Academy from ages Under-9 to Under-16 train at St Luke’s on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturday mornings. The facilities available give the opportunity to not only play football, but to do strength and conditioning work, sports science testing and to play futsal. Classrooms are used for tactical work, match analysis and sports psychology as well as nutrition guidance for players and parents.
Exeter City Academy Manager Simon Hayward said: “Our Academy players have impressed the school teachers with their levels of discipline, their work ethic, the respect they show, and the way they carry themselves – they are truly ambassadors for Exeter City.
“They have also helped raise the bar in school PE, but also have taken that competitive edge into their academic work and helped to raise the bar there as well.
“It would be hard for me to find high enough praise for St Luke’s Science & Sports College – the school has been a perfect fit and we continue to enjoy our partnership. Like ourselves, they don’t compromise the players’ education and the facilities they provide are first-rate.
“The benefits we have had from working with the school have been clear, and I am sure that St Luke’s are also seeing the benefit. I look forward to continuing to grow our relationship in the coming years.”
Dave Holt, Principal of St Luke’s Science & Sports College, said: “Our partnership with Exeter City is a true example of how two organisations can come together, share the same values and produce fantastic outcomes for young people.
“Our role as a school is to enable every young person to reach their potential academically and in their wider life. Our work with Exeter City enables us to provide additional training opportunities for young footballers whilst also educating them in a truly inspirational educational environment.
“The players that are currently with us are fantastic young people who contribute so much to St Luke’s. They are positive role models for many other students due to the values that the club have instilled in them and their own personal desire to do their best at all times. We are so proud of them and will continue to work with Simon and his team to get the very best opportunities for them all.”