SCHOOLS across Oxfordshire are opening up their gyms and sports halls to make sure football-mad pupils don’t miss England’s World Cup matches.

Two of England’s group matches are in the evening, but the game against Slovenia is set to kick off at 3pm on Wednesday, June 23 – about the time most school days end.

To make sure youngsters don’t miss the matches, schools are hiring big screens and setting up projectors so pupils and staff can watch together at the end of the day.

Among them is Wheatley Park School, where staff will project the game on to a wall in the school sports hall.

PE teacher Tom Myers said: “Alongside the competition we are running our own World Cup for Year Seven and Eight pupils, to create more of an interest in the tournament and in football, with the children being given different countries to represent.”

Up to 100 pupils are expected to stay after school to watch the match.

Mr Myers said: “It’s a bit of an English tradition to watch the game in a group as opposed to watching it by yourself.

“It increases the social aspect of sport and hopefully they will go and play football with their mates together after watching it together. Another reason is that kids who have to travel quite a distance don’t miss out, or try to skip school to get home on time.”

At The Cherwell School, in Marston Ferry Road, Oxford, there will be a charity element to the match.

Staff are selling tickets to watch in the school gym, and are hiring an eight-foot screen to show the game.

The school has a link with the Gcato School in South Africa, and hopes to raise £300 for it.

The gym seats up to 200 people, and PE teacher Will Yeates said most of the tickets had already been snapped up.

Mr Yeates added: “There is a lot of World Cup-related activity at the school.

“We have got quite a cross-section of the community in terms of languages and nationalities so we should be seeing flags of lots of different countries.

“There should be a bit of a carnival atmosphere.”

The first 90 ticket holders will get a golden goal ticket.

“If the number on their ticket matches the time of the first goal, they will win an England shirt.

Children will be allowed to leave lessons five minutes early to get to the gym on time for kick-off.

Oxford School in Glanville Road, East Oxford, is also planning to screen the match for students and staff, with the school day condensed slightly so pupils can watch.

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