President of the BHS, The Princess Royal, will visit a unique educational project set up by the BHS, based at Leyton, London, today.
The pilot project was initiated by the BHS, in conjunction with Lee Valley Riding Centre manager, Irena Grint, and CEA@Islington, to enable a group of year 10 pupils from local schools to attend the riding centre one day a week for two academic years and work towards a recognised BHS qualification.
The Princess Royal, known for her interest and support of educational and development work in the equestrian world, will visit the centre this afternoon, when she will meet the children and watch them riding and working in the stables.
The project commenced in November 2003, with six children from the Samuel Rhodes School. Head teacher Jackie Blount felt there was great value in introducing her students to such a project, and her enthusiasm has allowed the project to prosper.
“Samuel Rhodes is a school for children with moderate learning difficulties and they have taken to horses with great enthusiasm. Already there has been a noticeable change in their motivation and social skills,” explains Jackie.
“The children are proving very keen to attend and make a real effort to learn from their instructor. They are showing an ability to work as a team and are taking pride in what they do.”
Five children from the mainstream Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College joined the group last month.
Bill Clark, director of schools’ services, CEA@Islington, says: “The children who have taken part in this project have really benefited from experience. We welcome any initiatives that improve the educational aspirations and achievements of Islington pupils and support this project whole-heartedly.”
The project is in line with the government’s scheme to encourage Year 10 and 11 pupils to study for a vocational qualification in a work environment and the BHS’s commitment to the sporting equals racial equality charter.
Councillor Laura Willoughby, Islington Council, explained why they were so optimistic about the initiative.
“We all know the benefits of trying out new activities with new people in new areas, in finding new perspectives and motivation in life, and it is fantastic that these young people are having this opportunity.”
The BHS is aiming to extend the pilot project to other BHS approved riding schools and local authority schools throughout England in the future.