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Sporty access scheme reaches milestone

An innovative widening access scheme from Abertay University has reached 40,000 school children

10 Feb 2017

An innovative widening access scheme from Abertay University has reached 40,000 school children.

The University’s Dundee Academy of Sport has used Lionel Messi’s wages, the Tour de France and the Six Nations as hooks to engage some of Scotland's most deprived children with education.

Since 2013, the Academy of Sport has run a wide range of projects at schools, colleges, summer camps and community groups. A large majority of the targeted classes are delivered at schools in SIMD20 areas where children often come from troubled or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Florian Szarlej, 8, from Dundee has now become the 40,000th participant in the programme in a class that saw a P4 group don helmets and take to rowing machines as they learned about both the history and physiology of the Vikings.

Dundee Academy of Sport Project Officer Alan Clark, said: "If we’re doing numeracy we might focus on Transfer Deadline Day or how much Lionel Messi gets paid in a week. If they are enjoying what they are doing then they engage – it can be like sneaking education in by the back door."

The project is delivered in partnership with Dundee and Angus College and is jointly funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Abertay to help tackle the various attainment challenges that face schools across the area.

Teacher feedback shows a satisfaction rate of more than 90% for the sessions.

Florian said: "I like it when the sports guys come to our school – it’s more fun than normal class. I like Parkour, basketball and gymnastics and maybe one day I will teach sports like them."