A secondary school which already teaches the next generation of would-be Premier League stars has teamed up with an academy run by a football legend.
Robbie Fowler’s Education Football Academy (FEFA) has unveiled Rainhill High School as its new further education partner.
Rainhill is currently the official education centre for the best of Liverpool FC’s under-18 students.
In a formal partnership spanning more than 10 years the school has helped nurture eight first-team players including England internationals Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling along with Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho who made their debuts in the recent FA Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But competition among academy-age players in England is intense, with only one in 200 youngsters nationally ending up being offered full-time professional contracts.
By teaming up with Rainhill High School, FEFA aims to ensure that young players are educated and equipped for the many alternative careers on offer in football and the wider sports and leisure industry.
FEFA was launched in 2015 by the former Liverpool and England striker and its education results are already impressive, with four out of five students moving on to university last year.
It is hoped the new partnership will allows FEFA to recruit more students who want to study A-levels alongside their football as well as more girls aged under 18.
Rainhill High School executive principal John Pout said: “FEFA has already built an enviable reputation for its work with young people and we are delighted to be able to support its work.
“This is a perfect partnership in many ways. Like FEFA we set the highest educational standards, we have a proven track record thanks to our relationship with Liverpool FC, and we have consistently demonstrated a strong and robust approach to safeguarding, player welfare and financial management.”
Many of the Liverpool FC Academy players are also schoolboy internationals and Rainhill High works closely with FA staff from all the home nations to ensure players can be successful at international level and at the same time keep up-to-date with their school work.
The school is now hoping to add to its success by nurturing top talent in the rapidly-growing women's game.
Mr Pout said: “In common with FEFA, girls’ football is also taking great strides at Rainhill. The first of the Liverpool FC Ladies u18s arrived at Rainhill last year and we anticipate that by September the entire squad will be educated in our sixth form, as well as completing all their training on site. These are exciting times.”
FEFA principal Brian McGorry said: “We’ve been talking to Rainhill for some time now and I’m delighted that we have been able to turn mutual respect into a formal partnership.
“It’s a relationship that’s seamless. Both of us want to offer young people the best education we can and by working with Rainhill we are now able to add A Levels to the FEFA portfolio. In the past we’ve had to signpost students elsewhere; now we can offer them a direct pathway into further and higher education as well as football.
“I know from personal experience how important education is. I was lucky in that after being released by Liverpool when I was 18, I was back in professional football at 21.
"But for a while my confidence was shattered and it was a tough time. At FEFA we’re all about making sure young people have viable career pathways, either in the football, sport and leisure, or business more widely.”
FEFA has in the past received glowing reports from both Ofsted and Pearson Qualifications, the country’s largest awarding organisation which offers offering academic, vocational and work-based learning qualifications, including BTEC, Edexcel and LCCI.