Westhoughton High School pupils were delighted when Bolton Wanderers stars David Wheater and Josh Vela and goalkeeping coach Lee Butler agreed to take part in a community English lesson on Monday 4 February.
As part of an initiative to boost literacy and pride in their community, Year 7 students have written to community heroes - people who inspire them - and received a fantastic response from the local community with more than 50 heroes.
These included everything from fire brigade officers to doctors, police officers, magistrates, film directors, teachers, foster carers to football players, with them all coming into school to meet students and talk to them about their careers.
Year 11 students have also been involved, reporting on these encounters as part of their English Language GCSE.
The school is confident meanwhile that real-life experiences enhance students’ learning and encourage engagement.
Speaking about the project, Ms Joy Bach, Deputy Headteacher at Westhoughton High School, said: “Ensuring students have opportunities to meet with adults and to question them about their experiences in their work, and especially to meet with employers and learn first-hand about the skills, qualifications and attributes they are looking for in their future employees, has been an invaluable opportunity for our students.
“We’re grateful for the time they have given up to visit our school and inspire our students and to Miss Marron who has led the project in school.”
Liz Marron, teacher of English at Westhoughton High, added: “Our students were thrilled to meet their footballing heroes - many of them are season ticket holders at Bolton Wanderers and go to every game.
“The project is a real opportunity for students to take pride in their community - they will be writing articles about the experience and will remember this English lesson for the rest of their lives.
“The players and coaching staff have really turned the project into something special and there is a real buzz of excitement amongst our students.
“We are looking forward meanwhile to expanding the community project even further next year.”
Current skipper David Wheater also offered his thoughts following the session, saying: “It was really enjoyable to come down to Westhoughton High and spend time with the students.
“They asked some really good questions and to be able to offer advice and give them a different aspect to their learning is a privilege.
“Myself, Josh and Lee are very lucky to be in the positions we are in and it’s fantastic for us to be able to give something back to the local community in various ways, with this just being our latest contribution.”
The project was rolled out to over 200 students, following the success of students meeting former Wanderers captain Darren Pratley last year.
Additionally, teachers across the North West are emulating the project, following a presentation at the University of Manchester to teacher trainees, in large part due to the time that Bolton Wanderers have given to the project.