After a six-week transformation, courtesy of Kidderminster's Iris Interiors - who sponsored a big proportion of the refurbishment costs - the centre was handed over to Community Development Manager Dan Zaltzman just before Christmas.
The occasion was marked by the handing over of a £25,000 cheque by the regional fund-raisers from the Wooden Spoon rugby charity, a donation that will be match-funded, to provide the latest hardware and software.
The Centre - which will be managed by Glyn Lodge - has clearly-defined links with Worcestershire's Education Development Plan and will work to firmly-set priorities, starting with raising achievement in Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 levels, promoting inclusion, narrowing the achievement gap, and broadening perspectives.
It's housed in self-contained premises leased by Worcester Rugby from Worcestershire County Council at the rear of the South Stand at Sixways Stadium.
The Iris interior refurbishment has produced a superb corporate-style state-of-the-art learning environment that looks and feels as little like a classroom as possible. It boasts a secure reception area, an administration office, a partitioned ICT suite and teaching area, a multi-purpose room that acts as a soft working area, library, teaching room overspill area, and a student chill-out room.
The whole project has been put together with the help of the youngsters who'll be using it, following a two-day student workshop involving 15 students from four local primary and two secondary schools. They assisted in the centre's design, its naming and the design of its logo, as well as they decision to decorate it, inside and out, in club colours.
Manager Glyn Lodge is an experienced Middle School teacher with a background in physical education, PSHE, citizenship and humanities and considerable senior management experience in pastoral care and curriculum development, particularly at Key Stage 3.
To support PfS students, he'll a call on a pool of volunteer mentors being recruited from the University of Worcester, Worcester Sixth Form College, two local secondary school sixth forms, local businesses and the community. Staff, supporters and Academy players of the club will also be involved.
"This was one of the first projects I took on when I started the role in 2004," says Warriors' Community Development Manager Dan Zaltzman, who is a member of the steering committee overseeing the exciting project. "A lot of hard work has been carried out by a number of people from a number of different organisations to make this project become a reality. It's the most exciting new addition to development of the club."
The following schools, which are either very close to or within Worcester, will be used in the development phases and as the first cohort of invited schools.
• Pershore High School
• Christopher Whitehead Language College
• Cranham Primary School
• Warndon Junior School
• St. George's CE Primary School
• Dines Green Primary School
Among other things, students in Year 5 to 9 will be selected by the schools to help them improve literacy and numeracy, as well as build their interest in learning, or their confidence, self esteem and social skills.
PfS will support up to eight schools a term, meaning that around 120 students per term and 360 students annually will benefit. Initially, each group of 16 will be offered a 20-hour programme delivered in two-hour sessions over a 10-week period.
"The main focus of the programmes will be activity-based learning through creativity and publication, largely around the theme of rugby and other sports," says Glyn. "All students will receive a stadium tour as part of the programme and it's intended that Warriors players and staff will be involved in some capacity that's relevant to the students' learning."
THEY MADE IT POSSIBLE
A special thank you must go to the Wooden Spoon, Iris Interiors and npower.
The contribution from the Wooden Spoon has allowed us to install state-of-the-art ICT equipment which, along with the learning facility, will reinforce the difference between the study support centre and mainstream schooling thus providing an overall learning environment to re-engage young pupils.
Iris Interiors worked really hard with the team and the children to understand what the exact requirements of the building were, and this is reflected in the standard and uniqueness of the refurbishment.
In fact, they became so involved in the project that they ended up sponsoring a significant proportion of the building costs!
Once again, npower has shown its support for our community work by being the first company to sponsor a room in the centre. The money provided by npower will be used to help provide books and equipment for the study centre's very own library.