Stepping Up

Stewart Downing takes part in an experiment with some pupils

In May 2016, MFC Foundation commenced a pioneering new programme which focuses on supporting children through their transition.

Stepping Up’ aims to provide a positive catalyst to better prepare children stepping up from primary to secondary school. The main objectives are to prepare children for the social and emotional aspects of transition through a programme that uses the inspirational draw of a professional football club and the staff team associated to it.

Levels of confidence, self-esteem and attitudes to learning are to be developed by supporting the needs of individual students through using specific intervention strategies and personalised learning.

Stepping Up employs MFC Foundation Transition Coaches in primary schools, six months prior to their move up to secondary school. The Transition Coaches work with Year 6 children on a variety of sport and educational activities, both universally and through targeted interventions.

The Transition Coach then moves up to the secondary school with the young people and works with them for a further six months in that setting. This provides a constant, trusted adult in the children’s schooling covering a full academic year of transition for the young people.

Additionally, the coach delivers sport-based activities on an evening, within the local community to engage the children in positive, diversionary activities.

Recent government research has suggested that the culture shift from primary to secondary school is one of the most critical periods of a child’s education. Published by Ofsted in September 2015, a report entitled ‘Key Stage 3: The Wasted Years’ concluded that “the rate of pupils’ progress and achievement [in Key Stage 3] were not good enough”.

Stepping Up is funded for the fourth year by Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health and Supporting Communities departments and MFC Foundation.

MFC Foundation have recently been successful at gaining additional funding from the Premier League/Players Football Association fund (PL/PFA) to sustain and grow the project between 2017 – 2020. Stepping Up currently engages 23 primaries and 3 secondary schools and employs four staff.

Contact Project Coordinator Steven on or 01642 757674


MFC Foundation Join Daughters And Dads Active And Empowered Project

We’re delighted to announce we will be part of the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered project for the next two years.

Women in Sport, in partnership with the Fatherhood Institute, EFL Trust and the University of Newcastle (Australia), is excited to announce that we are the latest to join a growing band supporting this initiative.

We’ll join Leyton Orient Trust, The Albion Foundation (West Bromwich Albion), Foundation of Light (Sunderland AFC) and the Stoke City Community Trust for year two of the project, alongside Fulham FC Foundation, who were part of the project’s inaugural pilot year.

In total, six clubs will deliver the programme for the next two years, supported by Sport England’s Families Fund through National Lottery funding.

The Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered programme has been developed by the University of Newcastle (Australia) and Professor Philip Morgan and his team.

The programme aims to increase physical activity levels, sports skills and social-emotional wellbeing of girls 5-11 years by challenging stereotypes about playing sport and physical activity and increase fathers’ confidence and ability to act as role models in relation to their daughter’s participation.

Rachel Horsley, Girls Football Lead Officer here at MFC Foundation, said: The philosophy behind the programme is very much in keeping with many of our own. We reach across the area with many programmes, but this one is just that little bit different. Programmes like Daughters and Dads help everyone come together, not just the dads and their daughters. Some find it easier than others to show their feelings, or to actively support and encourage. This programme helps on so many levels. It helps emotionally and physically and brings an understanding that the two work together – just like dads and their daughters.”

Eleven families took part in the project’s inaugural year, and the programme had a great impact on those that took part.  Initial findings suggest:

  • Father and father-figures on the programme mentioned growing a stronger bond with their daughters and suggested they would increase the amount of family activity they do as a result of taking part.
  • All the girls that took part in the project showed a strong belief that girls are just as capable as boys at physical activity and should be able to enjoy the same opportunities, both individually and with their family.

Women in Sport and the project partners will explore these initial findings in greater depth with a larger sample size to understand any significant impact in year two and three.

Lee Warren, Innovation Manager for the DAD Project, said: We’re delighted to have five new clubs involved in this project for the next two years alongside continuing our partnership with Fulham who have built strong foundations. We’ve already started to see the impact that the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered programme can have on its participants and the long-term lifestyle changes that it can deliver. We’re looking forward to seeing these clubs support more families in their local communities to get active.”

Mike Diaper, Executive Director Children, Young People and Tackling Inactivity, at Sport England said: Following a successful first year of testing the Daughters and Dads programme, we are really pleased that our National Lottery investment can now help to extend its reach into new areas across England.   We know that we need to continue to do more to help girls and less affluent families get active, and one thing that hinders this are gender stereotypes that can cause families to believe that physical activity is less important for girls than boys.  We also know that parents and carers often see their role as helpers and less as role models in encouraging their children to be active. This programme, based on a model from Australia, is addressing these challenges and we look forward to seeing the results of this in the North East, West Midlands and London.”

For more information on the Research and Advice Service and Women in Sport’s work visit