Shrewsbury Town’s second-year scholars have earned fantastic academic results with every single player passing their courses – something some Premier League academies didn’t achieve – and many earned distinctions and merits.
Shrewsbury Town Academy’s Head of Education, Dave Riley, sat down with Salop to discuss the education programme the scholars undertake as part of their time with us.
Town's education system has excelled in recent years and the club is incredibly proud of this year's second years who got exceptionally good results in the first year of the new Sporting Excellence Professional (SEP) programme.
Youngsters Josh Barlow, Tom Bloxham and Xander Parke completed this new programme and progressed to the first team alongside Charlie Caton and Jaden Bevan. The club is also incredibly proud to have signed five academy players to the first team in the last two years so far.
Dave Riley became full-time with the Academy three years ago after the club invested heavily in full-time staff that they were not legally required to have as a Category Three academy. Despite not being required to have a full-time head of education, analyst, or physio, Town put their money where it counts to ensure their scholars get the very best support.
Dave also explained what his role entails and the aftercare programme the club provides released scholars which has been running for two-and-a-half years.
On his role:
“When I joined three years ago, my role at the football club involved coordinating the BTEC programme – an NVQ programme the boys did – as well as coaching an age group. Over the past two-and-a-half years through the pandemic, my role has evolved into a player care role. I’m still tracking the boys and managing the BTEC programme, but we’ve also introduced the new Sporting Excellence Professional [SEP] qualification that every Under-18 scholar across the country – from the Premier League down to League Two – has to undertake as part of their education programme and as a part of being a professional footballer.”
On the education programme:
“On top of their coaching, they do 14 hours of education a week and those will be done in three strands depending on their GCSE results. There’s the Diploma which is worth two A-levels and the Extended Diploma which is worth three A-levels. Also, there’s the SEP programme that looks at what they do in their day-to-day life as a scholar such as what they do with the analyst, what they do with the physio, what they do with the coaches, and what they do when they’re in the gym. We look at what they’re learning from that and how it’s helping them. They also do a UEFA C license coaching qualification which prepares them for life after football and they also do a life skills programme which we tailor to their needs.”
On the second-year scholar’s academic results:
“This year’s second-year group was the first group we put through the new SEP programme. Previously, scholars were not assessed at the end of their education provision but that was brought in this year. We’ve put all our boys through, and we’ve got all passes and some good distinctions from the boys.”
On the aftercare programme:
“If boys aren’t successful at any phase, be it getting a scholarship or a professional deal, we run an aftercare programme called Future Me. We tailor that to the individual and things they like doing within football and away from football. If they want to get back into football we look at what level they can get back into it at and we contact clubs for them. We also look at their academic background and we try to tailor a short, medium and long term plan for them.”