Stepping up: Palace fans go back to school

Three Palace for Life Foundation PlayMakers paid a visit to students on the new ‘Stepping Stones’ programme. The targeted school-based intervention is aimed at vulnerable pupils who are considered ‘at risk’ during the transition from primary school to secondary school.

As part of the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, the Foundation are working in partnership with Harris Academy South Norwood and Meridian High School to deliver the programme which will offer Year 7s a peer-to-peer mentoring service, resilience and emotional literacy lessons, and career days to raise aspirations and help young people fulfil their potential.

The project will be fully up and running once the school term starts in September, but the Foundation established summer school activities during the holidays to prepare students for the first week in their new schools, with 45 children taking part.

Amanda, a teacher at Meridian High School, was pleased with how the sessions had gone:

“I have heard from the children that they really enjoyed [the week]. They have had a lot of fun and you can see that from their response to the visitors today.”

During the second week, three dedicated PlayMakers: Caroline Keefe, Andy Street and Khalil Goddard, took the time out to pay the students at Meridian High School a visit. PlayMakers is a volunteering opportunity which taps into the skills and experience of Palace fans to help the Foundation improve the lives of young people in south London.

On Tuesday 28th August Caroline assisted with activities run on the day which included a range of  games, team building activities and relaxing creative workshops.

Andy, co-founder of the popular Palace fanzine Five Year Plan, led an hour long session where he shared his experiences of joining secondary school and his career/background in general:

“It was great to meet the young people in the group at the Stepping Stones programme and to share some of my experiences with them. We spoke about what my career involves, what skills a lawyer needs (by watching a clip from Legally Blonde!), and discussed some tips for how they might focus on their studies and find some structured hobbies outside of school. The group were all very engaged and seemed excited to provide me with their views.”

On the final day, Friday 31st August, Khalil inspired students with a fun motivational talk. Students asked lots of questions and the seasoned headteacher helped to remove any anxieties or fears they had about starting out at a new school.

Angel O’Dwyer, Community Development Officer, feels the cohort are prepared for their first day in year 7 now:

“The students engaged really well with the PlayMakers; they listened attentively with respect for the professionals’ experience and achievements. Having Khalil come today was a great way to end as it ties everything we’ve been doing with the children all week together.”

You can read more about our PlayMakers here, https://www.palaceforlife.org/playmakers/.