Whilst the past year has obviously been very focused on the recovery from lockdowns and reforming a host of our provisions, it has also given us sufficient time to plan for the future and start to develop even more opportunities to support our community.
A key part of this has been something that has been a huge aspiration for myself over the past six years, which I was given license to really investigate fifteen months ago by my board of trustees, that is BFC School.
This development will potentially support (initially) year 10 and 11 pupils that are struggling to engage in mainstream education and may be on the verge of full-time exclusion, to attend an alternate school provision, which will host them full time at Bloomfield Road.
Working closely with the Department of Education, Blackpool Council and local schools we have developed a very exciting education plan that will see pupils engaged in an enriched curriculum, which includes the critical subjects, including Maths, English and Science, but also include (where our skills, experience and expertise lie) Sport and Coaching.
Students will engage in a fantastic enrichment programme including Duke of Edinburgh, essential life skills and sport to give them a new lease of enthusiasm and commitment to education and hopefully put them on the right path to finding an exciting career for their future.
I have been working closely with a number of other football clubs across the country, to develop this offer, including Sunderland and their amazing facility the Beacon of Light, to understand the complexities of such a provision and engaging local providers to understand the needs of our young people in Blackpool. Whilst this is arguably our greatest challenge to date, it’s also our most exciting development and chance to have a life changing impact on the lives of young people.
This is certainly not something we have gone into blind, we have been supporting local secondary schools with an AP respite offer for the past two years, delivering a post sixteen BTEC Sport offer (BFC Sports College) for eight years and delivering a host of education programmes in local secondary schools, including our newest programme High School Hubs, so our experience and impact proves our provision can and will work.
The School will be based in temporary facilities for the first year, situated in the old nursery building in the North Stand of the stadium, which the Community Trust have invested over £160,000 already, to convert into an appropriate and modern education facility, whilst we work up some very exciting plans with Blackpool FC for a more sustained and permanent plan.
The programme will initially enrol 16 students in September 2021, doubling its capacity in September 2022.
The next stages are; our recruitment of a Head of School, which the advert is currently out for, and this week we send our application to register as an Independent School to the DfE.
It’s genuinely an exciting time to be part of Blackpool FC Community Trust and lead such amazing opportunities to try to help even more people in our great town.