The Arsenal Foundation

Arsenal Double Club

The Arsenal Double Club and Emotional Intelligence programmes aim to combine football with education to help children develop both academically and emotionally. Juliet Benis, headteacher of Ambler School in Islington, reveals how it works.

“Ambler is a school and children’s centre with 377 amazing pupils aged from six months to 11. We have a very mixed intake with 52 languages spoken (at the last count) and children from all over the world.

"We’ve grown more popular as our results have improved year on year, and Ofsted reports have shown us to be a good school. Our strapline is “Achieving More…” and we considered what behaviours and qualities would help us to do that. 

"We came up with the concept of DREAMS: determination, resilience, enthusiasm, ambition, motivation and self-belief. We work to support the children to develop these qualities and reward them.

"The Arsenal Double Club project – which focuses on emotional resilience – really tied in well to the work we were doing with our children. The Double Club takes the form of weekly, 90-minute after-school sessions, with 45 minutes in the classroom and 45 minutes football coaching. Twenty children signed up for the programme. 

"The Arsenal-themed resources revise literacy and numeracy skills through fun, engaging activities. Pupils write match reports, come up with interview questions and devise football training plans related to Arsenal that reinforce basic literacy and numeracy concepts learnt in curriculum time. It’s learning by stealth! 

"There was also Emotional Intelligence, a standalone unit delivered at Ambler School in partnership with Arsenal Foundation, Arsenal in the Community, Premier League and Education4Peace. It was designed to help pupils become more aware of their emotions and how they can affect behaviour. 

"There were lots of parallels with football. For example players have to remain focused and not react to certain triggers from the crowd, referee and other players that could mean a drop in their performance levels. 

"The aim was to make pupils aware that in any walk of life it is helpful to remain in control of your emotions so that they could respond thoughtfully to challenging situations rather than simply react.

"We did a lot of work on working better as a team and speaking to each other in a constructive manner in the football sessions. The pupils certainly did seem to curb their criticism of each other in the football sessions towards the end of the pilot! ”

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