Students from Mountain Ash Comprehensive School bring their literacy, freestyle football, beatbox and breakdance skills to Swindon to challenge the professionals!


Students from Mountain Ash Comprehensive School bring their literacy, freestyle football, beatbox and breakdance skills to Swindon to challenge the professionals

 National Literacy Trust held an event in Swindon for students to celebrate its Skills Academy programme, to improve reading skills through freestyle football, beatbox and breakdance

  • A Professional author, beatboxer, break-dancer and freestyle footballer ran workshops for the students


The National Literacy Trust hosted a special event at MECA in Swindon yesterday to celebrate its Skills Academy reading intervention, sponsored by Clarks.


40 lucky students from St Joseph’s Catholic College in Swindon and Mountain Ash Comprehensive got the chance to show off their skills at exciting workshops in:

  • Beatboxing with Midé Adenaike from the A Capella group ‘Sons of Pitches’, who won BBC 2’s ‘The Naked Choir’ with Gareth Malone
  • Breakdancing with Sunanda Biswas, who contributed to the choreography of the Olympics opening ceremony
  • Freestyle football with world renowned freestyle footballer Jamie Knight
  • Literacy activities with bestselling children’s author Ben Lyttleton, inspired by his Football School series of books

Mountain Ash Comprehensive School has participated in Skills Academy this year, which has already helped improve the literacy levels of the students. The event gave students the chance to come together, meet the professionals in these fields and celebrate the literacy, sport, dance and music skills they have been learning as part of the programme.


Skills Academy uses the excitement and interest of freestyle football, beatbox and breakdance to engage students with literacy and reading for pleasure. To date, the programme has helped 1 in 3 participating students in Years 7 and 8 improve their reading age by an average of 11 months in just 10 weeks.


Henrietta Roberts, Skills Academy Project Manager at the National Literacy Trust, said: “Thanks to the generous support of Clarks, we were able to launch a new and improved version of Skills Academy this school year and use the power of football, dance and beatboxing to get students excited about reading. It has been a brilliant day and the students have really enjoyed showing off their skills, as well as getting to meet author Ben Lyttleton, whose Football School books were a huge hit! I’d like to say a big thank you to Ben and our incredible professionals, Jamie, Midé and Sunanda, for their support and for leading such incredible workshops!”


Daniel Richards, PE teacher at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School said: “It’s been great fun running the Skills Academy programme in our school this year with 22 selected year seven and eight pupils. We have really seen an improvement in the students’ engagement with reading and they’ve all moved up at least one year’s reading level! They’ve loved the reward of learning new sporting and musical skills. In fact, it’s been so popular at school that we’ve been inundated with other students wanting to take part! It’s been fantastic to see them all in action today and celebrate their hard work and new skills.”


Gemma Newton, Teaching Assistant from St Joseph’s Catholic School said: “The Skills Academy event has been a fantastic opportunity for our year seven students to come here and learn new skills and be inspired by top professionals, as well as write creatively with an author! We’d like to thank everyone involved for making today so special.”


Over the next five years, the National Literacy Trust and Clarks are aiming to improve the reading skills of more than 22,500 students in Years 7 and 8 through the programme.


Tania Ross, Charity Partnerships & Retails Operations Specialist at Clarks, said: “It was absolutely fantastic to see Skills Academy live in action today. The performers were excellent and all of the students actively engaged and gave their very best in each workshop. It was great to speak with teachers running the programme at Mountain Ash School whose students have improved their reading age by at least a year and in some cases by three, in just eight weeks. This programme really works and we are delighted to sponsor the Skills Academy programme and support the National Literacy Trust.”


Teachers can try Skills Academy before they buy it with this free challenge.


Visit to find out more about Skills Academy and to express an interest in purchasing the programme.