Top football club visits Ripon school

Officials from Manchester City Football Club and St Bede's College meet boarders at Ripon Grammar School. (S)
Officials from Manchester City Football Club and St Bede's College meet boarders at Ripon Grammar School. (S)

A Ripon school in the premier league of education is helping to shape the life of the next generation of elite footballers.

Representatives of Manchester City Football Club and St Bede’s College, Manchester, have visited Ripon Grammar School – which is rated as outstanding by Ofsted – on a fact-finding mission.

Headmaster Martin Pearman said: “We were delighted to help Manchester City see boarding in action, to offer them the benefit of our experience and for our boarders to share their views.

“Like Ripon Grammar School, the club’s young people will come from all over the country and the world. The key is achieving the right balance in providing a safe and caring home within an educational environment.”

The football club is developing a unique, world-class youth academy and first team training facility with 16 pitches and an additional 7,000-seater stadium in Manchester, which is due to be completed in time for the 2014/15 season.

Within the development is boarding accommodation for around 40 young players, who will combine living, training and playing at the academy and going to St Bede’s College for their education.

The development of the new City Football Academy follows four years of extensive research and planning by the club across five continents and more than 30 elite sport development centres.

Ripon Grammar is the only state boarding school in Yorkshire and the top performing of all state secondary schools in the countybased on last year’s A-level results.

The Department for Education recommended that officials from the club and college visit the school as they draw up detailed plans of how their boarding option will work.

Des Coffey, education and welfare consultant to MCFC and a governor of the college, said: “We are trying to do as much research as possible in order to provide the very best opportunities for our boys and young men both in their education and in their football. We came to Ripon with an open mind, but also with lots of questions.”

The team met with Marita Murray, deputy headteacher and head of boarding at the grammar school, and were taken on a tour of the school’s boarding houses for girls and boys by students.

The boarders were asked about their daily routine, social activities and trips out, the disciplinary structure and their relationship with house parents and teachers, as well as bedtimes, laundry, mobile phone use and having friends to visit.