Reading Football Club are delighted to announce a new partnership with The Forest School which will see a number of our young Academy players earn their education at the all-boys comprehensive school in Winnersh.
Chairman Sir John Madejski and Academy Manager Eamonn Dolan were joined by Headteacher Keith Quine and Chair of Governors at the Forest School, Bill Crawford, to put pen to paper on the alliance which will give a group of our 14-year-old Academy starlets the opportunity to be trained and coached by Reading Football Club coaches whilst simultaneously studying for their GCSE qualifications alongside Forest School pupils.
“From a personal point of view, Academy football is not all about players, but young people,” Dolan said. “These boys are entering an extremely tough business, which ultimately discards the majority of them. They are hopefully going to become footballers and play long into their late thirties, but they are going to be people for a lot longer! So at Reading we believe that education is absolutely vital.
“As an Academy we’re facing the huge but exciting challenges of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan. The Chairman, Sir John Madejski, has been a wonderful advocate for Academy football at this club, supporting its progress at every level right throughout his tenure here. And now, our new owner is also very keen to develop our set-up - we’re looking to start a journey towards becoming a Category 1 club and this partnership is right at the heart of this new project.
“Knowing what I know about the complexity of the education system, I hugely admire the commitment that The Forest School staff have dedicated to this project. We’re really excited about it, and we hope that we can reflect back in a few years and see the benefits it has had for club, school, students and the players themselves.”
Headteacher at The Forest, Keith Quine, said “I believe we can do a fantastic job in educating these young lads through their GCSEs. And I also think this partnership will benefit all the pupils at The Forest; hopefully the boys will feed off the ambition to excel which the school and these Reading Football Club Academy players so keenly share. We hope it will inspire our students to be the best they possibly can be, in whichever paths they choose to follow.
“It has been a pleasure to work with both Eamonn Dolan and Paul Bailey and to breathe real life into this partnership. This is confirmation of our school’s belief in partnerships to drive the school forward, a belief that if we work with the best around it will be for the benefit of every child at The Forest.”
The Forest School proudly boasts a fine record and a long tradition in sport, having played in cup finals at both the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford recently whilst winning two national trophies in the last six years - but it was their academic record that was a real attraction for the Royals.
Chair of Governors, Bill Crawford, added “I’d like to think that the club came to us because we’re good at educating boys and we’re very successful at sport. And, from a school governor’s perspective, if you consider the pressures that schools are under in terms of funding and working with businesses, I think this is a great opportunity for the Forest. Reading Football Club is a Premier League business and it is great to be associated with them. It’s the start of a brave new world for both of us.”