More than 600 primary school children from across the region have visited the Liberty Stadium as part of the new Ospreys Schools Programme since it was launched just two months ago, with another 900 booked in to participate in the interactive stadium tour in the coming months.
Launched by Leighton Andrews AM, Minster for Education and Skills, the innovative programme is the first of its kind in Welsh rugby and has been developed with education departments at the three unitary authorities in the region to ensure it satisfies National Curriculum objectives and assists in the development of key skills.
25 schools have come through the programme so far, with sessions covering a wide range of issues including personal welfare and self esteem, the benefits of teamwork and cooperation, collective global environmental responsibility and online safety, as well as promoting a healthy active lifestyle and, of course, rugby.
The programme includes a specially designed interactive Liberty Stadium tour that sees every pupil taken behind the scenes at the home of the Ospreys, the undisputed highlight being a special audio/visual experience in the home changing room that replicates the match day environment.
Devised in partnership with RWE npower renewables, a leading renewable energy company in Wales, and supported by Sony Technology Centre and the WRU, the programme has targeted bringing 3,000 year five and six pupils in direct contact with the Ospreys over the course of the academic year – a target they are on target to meet with advanced schools registrations mounting up and bookings now being taking for the spring term.
Ospreys Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Hore, said the Ospreys Schools Programme is a major part of the region’s community engagement strategy and as such, was delighted with the early success.
“We have been blown away with the initial success of the programme and the way it has got off to a flyer” said Hore.
“Everyone involved with the creation of the Ospreys Schools Programme, over a 12-month period, has invested an incredible amount of time and effort to make it such a fantastic programme.
“It is a huge collaborative effort involving a lot of people and we’ve been delighted with the response to the programme and feedback received. The programme aims to leave a lasting community legacy - helping improve not only rugby participation numbers but also numeracy and literacy, understanding healthy living, and how to look after the planet – and we are incredibly excited about the impact that this programme is already having across the communities of Ospreylia.
“If we can help to create young children who have greater social and self awareness while giving them experiences to remember and hopefully developing a lifelong interest in the rugby, then the programme will be deemed a huge success.”
Ospreys Schools Coordinator Keith Collins, a retired teacher with 34 years experience in schools across the region, has been particularly instrumental in building the unique programme. He said:
“We’ve had a great response to the programme since it launched in September. The tours are fully booked up until Christmas as word is getting around about what a great programme it is, and how much the children can get out of it, meaning we are well on the way to reaching our target of 3,000 pupils in the academic year.
“Obviously the tour is the highlight, but the whole programme we’ve put together offers a fun and informative educational package that sits within the national curriculum, allowing the pupils to improve their oracy, literacy and mathematical ability while discovering more about rugby and the Ospreys.”