Primary school children say grown-ups should sit lessons on football tragedy chants

Video report by Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah

Children at the first primary school to be given a special lesson about the pain and upset so called 'tragedy chants' at football matches can cause say "grown-ups should do the lesson too".

The new initiative is fronted by Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall.

Margaret's 18-year-old son James is one of the 97 children, women and men who died in the crush at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.

She wrote to the Premier League in last year to say "enough is enough" after years of hearing chants about the Hillsborough tragedy and chants about other tragedies at football grounds around the the country.

In November this year, the Premier League devised a lesson which it has made available to 18,000 primary schools in England and Wales, and football club's foundations.

Nick from LFC Foundation delivering the lesson to children aged 10 and 11 Credit: ITV Granada

Liverpool FC Foundation has been to New Park Primary, a stone's throw from Anfield, to deliver the hour long session to a class of 10 and 11-year-olds.

The lesson lasts one hour and focuses on basic human feelings and the harm people's words and actions can have on others.

Nick, from LFC Foundation, who delivered the lesson asked the children to write down how they'd feel in certain situations, including their "auntie making them a hot chocolate with marshmallows on when they were sad."

Children showing their understanding of how people's actions and words affect them Credit: ITV Granada

The children reacted with words including "happy", "thankful", and "excited".

When asked how they would feel if someone in the playground was calling them names and other children joined in, these words changed to "sad" and "upset".

The children were also shown this film of Margaret Aspinall, talking about the loss of her son James, and how the chants from rival football fans made her and other relatives feel.

In the film Margaret said:"Football brings so much joy to so many people all over the world but there is no need for people to be chanting in the way they do.

"The pain it causes is unbearable; we do not deserve to hear these chants, they hurt just as much as losing your child."

Children watching Margaret Aspinall as part of the lesson Credit: ITV Granada

The children's reactions to the lesson and the film was a bigger understanding of how people's actions and words can affect other people.

"Think before you speak", "People should think before they say stuff", "If you say something mean to someone it can affect their life", "you should treat people the way you think you should be treated" are just some of the comments from the children.

When one 11-year-old boy was asked if he thought grown-ups should do the lesson, he said: "Yes, because it's mostly grown-ups that need to learn more to make sure you respect someone and to watch what you say."

Margaret Aspinall agrees with him, and said: "Well said to that youngster, he should be proud of himself, he knows more than grown-ups do.

"He's absolutely spot on, it is the older people and children only learn from example of adults.

"These children deserve credit, it's lovely to know they're getting educated, and maybe they're the ones that will teach the parents and the grown ups.

"I don't like any chanting at any football games, and I really don't understand why they do it or what they get out of it.

"I would ask everyone to stop and think before you chant."

"Grown-ups should do the lesson too" Credit: ITV News

Liverpool FC Foundation is delivering the lesson to schools across the city but said it is not just for Liverpool.

Gemma Smith, Head of Programmes said:

"Not only is available to all football club foundations, but it's also available to every school in the country, so teachers can take it upon themselves to then go ahead and deliver this, but equally, football club foundations can deliver it on their behalf.

"I think it's brilliant that the message is being spread far and wide."

Liverpool Football Club says it is "committed to continuing to work with the relevant authorities, stakeholders and other clubs to eradicate it from our game."

No-one from the Premier League was available for comment about the progress of the initiative as it's rolled out across schools in England and Wales.