Club's courses score highly with the local community

16th December 2011 at 00:00
Tottenham Hotspur is to offer a second foundation degree

While Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur side may not be favourites to top the Premier League this season, Spurs have made sure they are ahead of their rivals when it comes to education by becoming the first football club to offer foundation degrees.

Following the early success of its first qualification in applied sport and community development, the club will next year welcome another intake of students on a new degree in applied sports hospitality and nutrition.

The club's base in Tottenham, an area of London devastated by this summer's riots, has strengthened the resolve of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation (THF), the club's community wing, to take action. In July, 2,345 under-25s were out of work in the borough of Haringey, almost 10 per cent more than a year earlier.

If it were not for the club's foray into the world of education, Tottenham resident JoJo Clarke believes he would have joined them. "If I wasn't doing this I would probably be sitting at home," the 18-year-old said. He is one of the first cohort of undergraduates to join Spurs' foundation degree programme.

After getting involved in the Tottenham Kickz scheme to engage teenagers living on the toughest estates in north London, he embarked on a BTEC in community sport at Southgate College, jointly operated by THF, before starting the degree programme. He will also have the opportunity to complete an extra year of study at Middlesex University to top up the qualification and obtain a full honours degree.

Mr Clarke is fully supportive of the work the club is doing with the deprived communities surrounding its White Hart Lane stadium. "It lets the people of Tottenham know that the club is there for the people. It's doing a lot for them," he said.

In the attempt to tackle disillusionment among young people, THF chief executive Grant Cornwell believes that, for many, the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Premier League superstars - such as Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale - can prove infinitely more alluring than a school classroom ever was.

"Not all young people are comfortable in a traditional learning environment," he said. "It's about inspiring young people to want to learn. It's a unique setting, something which would hopefully make young people inquisitive."

And while the sole supporter of Arsenal - Tottenham's arch rivals - who attended the course open day last week may have been the object of much light-hearted banter, Mr Cornwell insists the club is not just looking to attract young Tottenham fans.

"It's for local people - it's not a prerequisite to be a Spurs fan. Although it does stimulate an interest in lifelong fans, it's not just traditional football people coming into this. It's not a football club delivering education - we use trained teachers - it's just at an alternative venue," he said. "We're trying to upskill people who, without us here, might not have had this opportunity. We are trying to look at what the community wants, not just us."

Other than its fortunes in the Premier League, the issue that has garnered the most column inches for Tottenham in recent months has been the club's ill-fated bid to move to the Olympic stadium after next year's London games. While those inside the boardroom at White Hart Lane may have been frustrated by the failure to secure the rights to move to Stratford, the local community has breathed a sigh of relief that Spurs will be remaining in north London. And the club's second choice - a new 56,000-seat stadium close to its current home - brings its own advantages.

As well as presenting what Mr Cornwell describes as a "one-off opportunity to regenerate the area", the development could also bring considerable educational benefits. Should the club proceed with its plans, further FE qualifications in hospitality, catering and retail would follow. "We are just trying to inspire people with a real-life experience," Mr Cornwell said.


50% of Tottenham Hotspur staff have come through its training programmes

70% of students on Spurs' BTEC programme at Southgate College have come through its community programme

30 full and part-time students are currently taking Tottenham's foundation degree in applied sport and community development.

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