Focus: Frontline - The Trojans Scheme

Georgina Lock,

In the ten years since it was launched, the Trojans Scheme has grown from being an after-school club based at Eardley Primary School in Streatham to a scheme running out of 15 schools in south London. The latest plan is to extend the project to about 300 inner-city schools throughout the country.

Jackie Nunns, its chief executive, has been there from the beginning.

She first answered a job advert asking for someone with "entrepreneurial flair" to set up and run the after-school club, and says she got the job only because it was advertised three times and she was the sole applicant.

"For children to be spending their formative years indoors is not how we like to see them develop," says Nunns.

From the start, she was determined that everyone should be able to use the club, so those who couldn't afford to send their children were offered the chance to volunteer in lieu of payment. That ethos remains today, and volunteers from all walks of life, from 14-year-old students to grannies, help out. Many go on to gain childcare qualifications.

Rounders and crafts

Based within schools, the holiday club offers a variety of play activities for children to flit between, including rounders, snooker and crafts.

The after-school club requires the children to elect certain activities that they then stick with on the same day throughout each week of the term.Trojans also offers outings to the countryside.

Regbe Habtom, 19, is volunteering to gain experience before studying childcare at university. She says: "It gives me so much satisfaction to see the children smiling - it's giving me experience working with children, which is what I want to do."

Nunns says: "Our primary objective is to enable children to use their free time positively, playing with friends in a suitable environment."

She adds: "When I first started this scheme, I was astounded at how little there was for children to do - and by the great divide between those who have and those who do not."

The scheme is aimed at schools that have at least 25 per cent of pupils on free school meals - at some schools in which Trojans works, this figure is as high as 75 per cent.

The schools offer their facilities to the scheme free of charge. In return, teachers have reported better pupil motivation, better academic results and closer links with families.

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