‘Inspiring’ Blackpool FC School offers chance to children who ‘struggle with mainstream education’ 

Blackpool FC have showcased their onsite school which looks to offer children who experience challenges in mainstream education a chance to fulfil their potential and be known for their personalities and aspirations.

The school, which opened its doors in 2021, has proved to be a great success, with manager Neil Critchley and goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell heading down to the school last week to oversee one of the many football sessions the school hosts for the pupils.

ITV Football visited the school to find out more.

Speaking to ITV, Critchley said: “I’ve been really impressed and the January transfer window is still open, so some of these players might be coming in on Monday! I used to work in schools many years ago when I was a young coach starting out and you know the impact you can have on some of the younger people, the happiness it brings, their sense of belonging, social interaction, their inclusion.

“Coming down here today and being just a small part of it is quite amazing really, it’s quite inspiring to be honest with you.”

The school, which is open to children between the ages of 14 and 16, is the vision of Blackpool FC Community Trust and is found at Blackpool’s home ground Bloomfield Road, in a purpose-built facility in the North Stand area of the stadium.

Gemma Trickett, Headteacher of Blackpool FC School, told ITV: “The school’s open for students who struggle with mainstream [education]. That could be for a variety of different reasons, whether it’s special needs or it could be behavioural issues.

“Our vision and ethos at the school is to ensure that every child in Blackpool has an alternate provision where they can access a curriculum that’s suited to their needs.”

Blackpool FC School offers a unique experience which looks to inspire and engage each young person who walks through the doors of the building. The school aims to recognise each person individually and take a holistic approach to meet their needs and development.

The Tangerines are one of 72 Clubs across the EFL that use the power of football to engage young people who have not found the ideal place to grow. Figures from the latest ‘Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community’ revealed 85% of the 309,648 participants engaged on education, training and employment programmes at EFL Clubs reported improved attainment at school.

Gemma continued: “I think it’s a great opportunity that the students have to be able to play alongside the first team, for the first team coach to come down and watch our students involved in football.

“They’re really excited.”

Ashley Hackett, CEO of Blackpool FC Community Trust, said: “The biggest success for me was last year we had our first cohort finish year 11 of 12 students. 11 of them have now gone onto positive destinations and by that we mean they’re in college or they’re in a job.

“This is an unbelievable achievement by the team.”