Premier League sessions help Riley find his reading groove | Norwich City Community Sports Foundation
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Story added: 2nd March 2022

"It has been great to see his personality shine through"

A literacy initiative, focused around football and Norwich City Football Club, has helped young Riley to overcome his reading demons.

Riley Buttle attends Magdalen Gates school in north Norwich.

The nine-year-old has dyslexia and has always found reading challenging. He would refuse to read or participate in reading lessons in any capacity, choosing instead to wander around the classroom.

This meant that he was working below the expected level for a Year 5 student.

In September 2021, Deputy Headteacher Chloe Demeuzois chose Riley for the Reading Stars programme, a 10-week Premier League funded educational intervention programme delivered in-school by the Community Sports Foundation.

In the first few sessions, the Foundation’s Primary Stars Officer, Emma Taylor, noted Riley’s reluctance to engage:

“He was very quiet, serious and withdrawn. While he would sit with the rest of the group, he rarely spoke and was reluctant to offer his ideas and opinions.”

However, she soon found common ground with him through his love of playing and watching football.

To help Riley engage, Emma adapted the programme to further suit his needs.

Tasks were kept short, and group work encouraged so Riley could enjoy shared successes and feel less individual pressure.

Most importantly, all the resources and books she chose for him had a common theme running through them: football.

Over the coming weeks, Emma noticed that Riley began to emerge from his shell.

He grew in confidence and started participating in class discussions – often putting his hand up to answer questions.

While Riley still did not have the confidence to read out loud in class, a breakthrough moment came when he read to Emma in the library.

As a reward for his continued efforts, the Foundation gave Riley and his grandfather tickets to watch the Canaries in their Premier League clash against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Riley receiving tickets

For the final week of the programme, Riley and his classmates were invited for a ground tour and lesson at Carrow Road, where he was fantastically engaged, asking questions throughout the day and working with enthusiasm on the reading tasks and activities.

Chloe Demeuzois, the Deputy Headteacher at Magdalen Gates, said:

“We could instantly see that Riley was engaged in learning. He has been alert and attentive in lessons and keen to join in and share his ideas. It has been great to see his personality shine through. He has been happy in the sessions, often smiling and laughing.”

Longer writing and reading tasks are being introduced as Riley’s engagement grows, and the school now hope his enthusiasm for Reading Stars can be translated across to his regular lessons.

To find out more about the Foundation’s Primary Stars programme, click here.

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