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Using football to embed Maths and English

06 February 2017 Candidate Blogs

More than just a fun way to get fit

Whether you love it or hate it, football at school is a great way to get kids outside and doing some exercise yet football can offer wider benefits.

We are all familiar with the traditional skills that are promoted in football such as team building, resilience, determination and respect. However, there is now a growing realisation that football can also be used to develop maths and English skills and even open up other career paths.

Understanding the angle of the corner kick

There are many opportunities to promote maths actively during matches, this can be as simple as working out how much time is left of the game or as complex as working out angles of corner kicks and pitch marking distances. Outside of the match environment the opportunities to embed maths become even more numerous if you excuse the pun. Take for instance player and club stats; by getting pupils to study player stats they can calculate a huge number of interesting facts such as the most consistent goal scorer in a league or number of saves made by a specific goal keeper. This kind of maths is much more fun than when most of us were taught at school.

Football commentators and writers

Initially it appears harder to promote English skills in to schools’ football, however this is only true if you simply view football as a physical activity. Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Clarence Seedorf all need a good command of English to write and comment on football matches.

When looking to embed English it is important to consider the entire sport and the opportunities that this presents. For instance, getting pupils to watch a game and then write a match report is an easy and enjoyable way to get pupils engaged with English outside of the traditional classroom environment.

What is football

Is it a game or an entire industry? Is it a sport or a career, a TV show or a university degree course, a way of keeping fit or a way to relax in an armchair? Football is all these things and more. In the wider context it can be used to engage pupils with maths, English and other key curriculum areas, in history, geography, business studies even technology.

Students learn better when they are engaged in a subject and apply thinking and enquiry. Lessons are more interesting and learning more effective. The student can experience greater achievement and be spurred on to further improvement. So football can be more than just a fun way to get outside, with a little intervention and creativity it can have a big impact on functional skills with possibly even having a greater impact than the traditional maths and English course delivery models.

Career Opportunities

So we have looked at football as a way of embedding maths and English but what about potential career opportunities? Ask many school aged pupils what careers football opens up and the majority will undoubtedly talk to you about becoming a professional footballer. However, there are many other career paths open to pupils interested in football, not just those on the pitch.

More than the sum of the parts

A football coach/teacher can make a significant contribution to their overall grades, even lead the way towards a high performing school. Exceptional schools are characterised with having cross school strategies linked to student achievement with a strong motivation to learning. The football coach or teacher is ideally placed to nurture these attitudes and behaviours in their pupils but it takes great commitment and creativity to put together lessons that will inspire. And a strong obligation to their pupils, that they deserve a whole learning environment when it comes to football, not just the head and footwork drills.

Play your part!

The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) is the National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England and now runs over 40 National Schools’ and Colleges’ Cup competitions for both boys and girls. With such a wide reach, the ESFA realises the importance of supporting its members in the improvement of wider skills and actively encourages schools to make a football match a school-wide event.

For more information about the ESFA please got to:


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