Football Beyond Borders Calls For ‘No More Empty Chairs’ To Tackle School Exclusions

Football Beyond Borders Empty Chairs

A new lobbying campaign called ‘No More Empty Chairs’ from Football Beyond Borders (FBB) calls for the UK Government to match education catch-up funding of £1b for next year to extend the ‘Looked After Premium’ to become a new ‘Vulnerability Premium’.


The football focused education charity’s campaign is fronted by an eye-catching and powerful new film, created by agency Dark Horses, tells a story about a vulnerable student who, while experiencing a difficult home life, makes a mistake at school which leads to his exclusion.


Delivered in his own words and based on genuine stories and instances, the film shows how school is often somewhere a young person ‘can belong’ and is an escape from difficult home lives. As the narrative arc unfolds, the viewers finds that his troubles at home have contributed to his behaviour deteriorating, ultimately leading to his exclusion from school.


The video is voiced by Daniel, a youngster who himself experienced school exclusion and it seeks to raises awareness of the increase in the volume of students being excluded from school in England and the hugely detrimental effects this has on a youngster’s life.


Football Beyond Borders – No More Empty Chairs from Robert Sanderson on Vimeo.


The funding call seeks to provide further support for kids known to UK social services either through a ‘Children in Need Plan’ or a ‘Child Protection Plan’ which aims to help them remain in school.


As well as the hero film, the ‘No More Empty Chairs’ campaign also see FBB host an online roundtable discussion on 25 February (from 4-5.30pm) with a range of education expert speakers discussing how to ensure that no young person becomes an empty chair.


The campaign was created for FBB Co-Director Jasper Kain by a team at Dark Horses which included ECD Steve Howell, Creative Directors Adam Burns and Paco Lopez, plus Strategist Mark Lloyd. The hero film was directed by Rob Sanderson with cinematography by Richard William Preisner and post production from Bubble TV.


Dark Horses Creative Partner Steve Howell explained: “‘No More Empty Chairs’ demonstrates why it is so important that we use the experience of lockdown to do everything we can to minimise exclusions. We wanted to make sure we told a story that not only raised awareness of the issue but also challenged the misconceptions around it.”


FBB Co-Director Jack Reynolds added: “This year, for the first time, every family experienced the challenge of children not being in school. Now we all know what it means when our children lose their education. But under current arrangements, mainstream schools don’t receive any additional funding to provide support to keep their most vulnerable young people in school.”


“All too often this leads headteachers to take the difficult decision of excluding these young people. We have to change the funding that schools receive to support their most vulnerable. If not, we will see the learning loss of lockdown replicated by the learning loss of school exclusion.” Continued Reynlods.





The impact of exclusion is often devastating and ever-lasting on a youngster’s education and their future lives: fewer than 2% of all excluded pupils finish school with the basic qualifications required in GCSE English & Maths.


Unsurprisingly, the follow-on impact on society is also alarming as every cohort of permanently excluded students goes on to cost the state an extra £2.1bn in education, health, benefits and criminal justice costs.


FBB’s campaign builds on recommendation from the Education Policy Institute which calls on the government to at least match their catch-up funding of £1 billion for next year to extend the Looked After Premium to become a new ‘Vulnerability Premium’.


FBB is a UK charity dedicated to supporting young people who are passionate about football but disengaged at school in order to help them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood.


It does this by providing long-term, intensive support, built around relationships and young people’s passions, in the classroom and beyond.


FBB’s latest impact report found that 98% of students who are involved in its programmes go on to finish school, with 78% of its young people completing the year with level four GCSE in English and Maths.


This campaign follows on from FBB’s January 2021 poetry inspired film series.





Football Beyond Borders


Dark Horses




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