The first week back for the Little Dragons pre-school and after-school clubs have been well-attended with some waiting lists due to popularity – keep an eye out for our new company brochure due imminently!








We’d like to congratulate our Managing Director Richard, who took part in the national England trials a few weeks ago in Birmingham. Richard was selected for Team England for the K1 World Championships. They will be held in Athens in the summer. We would like to wish Richard all the very best of luck and bring home the gold medal….

Double Olympian Sophie Cox working with Managing Director Richard, demonstrating Richard’s philosophy on on the Little Dragons hybrid syllabus and variations on a hip throw.

 Pictures: Damian Trainor (top) – Double World Muay Thai Champion & Double European Muay Thai Champion.

Sophie Cox (middle-top) – Double Olympian, 7 times British Judo Champion, Bronze Commonwealth Medalist, Double European Silver Medalist.

Julie Kitchen (bottom-middle) – 14 times World Muay Thai Champion.

Remy (bottom) – Muay Thai Boxer


Our Feedback.

4th Dan in Freestyle Martial Arts and COBRA instructor Dan Powell:

I feel the concept of this programme (the little dragons) is excellent. I think getting martial arts into schools is crucial, and gives the children discipline, integrity, honesty and creativity… It also helps more introvert children come out of there shell and helps tone down more rowdy ones. The instructors are great and clearly know what they are doing.
Although I struggled to adapt my style, that is a personal battle for myself as opposed to anything else, and I had full support from Richard from start to finish.

Kind Regards,

D. Powell 4th Dan


Two-times Team GB Olympian Sophie Cox gives her view on The Education Programme’s leader, Richard Kirkham.

‘Richard is a very experienced martial artist whose personal philosophical values reflect and encompass what the ancient martial arts are aimed at, namely sound body and mind. He is able to demonstrate expertise in his own personal training and teaching whilst being open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Richard has helped open my eyes to other martial arts such as Kung Fu and Wing Chun and is a pleasure to work with.’

Team GB Olympian 2004 & 2012 
Double Olympian and 7 times British Champion
Commonwealth Bronze Medalist
Double European Silver Medalist
2017 Athlete Mentor – Sky Sports Living for Sport
Athlete Mentor Youth Sport Trust
Athlete mentor – DKH Legacy Trust
Sporting Champions – Athlete role model

Gold European Champion Omar Shamot’s testimonial for Richard Kirkham:

I have been training with Richard Kirkham for around 8 years now, and during this time I have learnt a great deal, not only about the art of fighting but also about the disciplines behind it.
Richard is not just trained in one martial art but several – he taught me Kickboxing, Kung Fu, etc. .. even things like meditation. Richards’s abilities at teaching made me a much better martial artist and even a more upstanding citizen.
Martial arts helped me to channel energy into other matters, and this is all thanks to Richard.
Training with Richard has got me to many of my championship medals I own today, and it’s all thanks to him. He is a superb teacher, one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to train with.
Any new students that are thinking of training with Richard should grasp the opportunity, and indulge in his Philosophies and ways of teaching.
Believe me it will only be of benefit to you!

Gold European Champion
Silver World Championships
Bronze National Championships

Taekwondo Instructor for EPL, Gemma Unsworth:

The Little Dragons Programme, as created by Richard Kirkham of EPL, is an effective and fun martial arts programme for children. As a black belt (1st Dan) myself, I have been extremely impressed by the thorough teaching of martial arts principles and techniques, and the advantages provided by this particular martial arts syllabus through the fusion and potent utilisation of elements from various martial arts disciplines, ranging from karate to kung-fu, judo to jiu-jitsu and much more. 

As a fully qualified primary school teacher, I have further been impressed with the cross curricular knowledge and skills that this syllabus has been created to impart. The martial arts principles and way of life link well to many P.S.H.E and global citizenship skills. Children’s awareness of and interest in world history and geographical knowledge is raised and ignited through the teachings of the roots of the various martial arts forms. Furthermore, children enjoy exposure to and learning the languages relevant for each form, including Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean. 

As a new instructor joining EPL I benefit from receipt of regular 1:1 training sessions and supportive assessment of Martial Arts techniques and my own teaching, by Richard Kirkham, a fantastic instructor with 40 years experience of Martial Arts. Through this company, I have also had the opportunity to meet and train with the Olympic medal winning Sophie Cox, and feel constantly encouraged and supported by the team of professionals at EPL. 

As I continue my journey with EPL, I have no doubt that the company will grow from strength to strength due to the thirst for knowledge, love of learning and teaching, open-mindedness, positivity, passion and professionalism of the company, it’s director and employees. 

Gemma Unsworth
1st Dan Black Belt – Taekwondo

Steven Henshall, Current head MMA coach at back2basics gym:

I am excited to be a part of the little dragons programme. I believe developing children’s knowledge in martial arts from a young age benefits them in all aspects of life now and in their future, from respect to discipline, the little dragons program has a dedicated team behind it to make sure the children get the very best from their experience.

Steven’s Experience:
5 years Mma training
Brazilian jujitsu blue belt
Ex Head coach of Spartan predators Mma in Middleton for 1 and a half years
Current head Mma coach at back2basics gym
Current Mma coach at full contact performance centre Rochdale

Steven’s Achievements:
5-1 Semi professional Mma record (5-0 at middleweight)
Full contact contender middleweight British champion
Rage in the cage middleweight British champion
Sub North NO GI grappling comp winner

Richard Kirkham and the Education Programme Ltd delivered an exciting and engaging martial arts day to the children in our Summer school and those participating in our transition week. The children ranged from 5 – 15 and all thoroughly enjoyed the activities and were introduced to a wide range of martial arts and the cultural aspects surrounding these.

We found Richard and to be very professional ensuring everyone remained safe whilst having fun and learning new skills, his approach was both engaging and active, encouraging and motivating the children throughout most of whom were new to the activities, some of the children have since expressed an interest in taking up martial arts outside of school.

Emma Mooney
Acting Games Manager

Feedback from our supply teachers:

EPL have continually delivered a high standard of professionalism during my time with them as a supply teacher.  Richard’s friendly, supportive approach is second to none which has kept my mind at ease, altogether an absolute pleasure to work for.  I would highly recommend this company to anyone who is seeking work on supply as they strive to make your experience as smooth and carefree as possible.  Keep up the good work EPL!

Daniel Ridding

The education programme is a professional and organised company to work for. The support I received from everyone within the company has been outstanding and I cannot emphasise how helpful and friendly they have been. Any questions or queries I had were answered efficiently and effectively. The company found work which suited me consistently and this has allowed me to gain confidence in my own teaching ability. I would highly recommend this company to anybody wanting to work on supply.

I cannot put into words how much I appreciate all the support and help you have offered me these past 5 months.
Thank you for everything you have done for me.
I will defiantly be spreading the word about the company
Kind regards

Feedback from our pupils:












































Holiday Club Feedback:

EPL holiday club is the favourite choice of my two kids. They enjoy the relaxed yet structured day. I’ve appreciated the approach of the staff, which is interested and engaged in the kids. There is a mix of activities blending art and crafts, sports and computer time. Staff are well prepared to keep the children entertained whatever the weather: I was impressed with the Wii fit style bowling competition on a rainy February half term!”

My son always looks forward to going to EPL holiday club. He gets involved in lots of new activities and enjoys meeting new friends”

My son loves going to holiday club. He would ask if he was going during the school terms and wouldn’t like the answer. Richard and the staff are always polite and friendly. They will go out of their way to help you. My son likes them too and he’s is shy it takes him a while to get used to people, he got on with the staff almost straight away. The staff take into consideration all the children’s needs and requirements.
It’s based in a great school. My son always comes back asleep which tells me that the children have an actioned packed day. You receive a break down of the day’s activities.
My overall experience with the holiday club, Richard and the staff, the school and the activities I would certainly recommend others.”

Dear Richard,

Thank you for another great year of provision at Buckton Vale from the Education Learning Program. The visit from Sophie with her Olympic medals was inspirational and something the pupils really enjoyed. The progression in the martial arts classes has been fantastic and, as always, very popular. Many parents have commented on the quality of the lessons and the presentation assemblies, when pupils are presented with certificates. The progression for the children has also been wonderful to see. Not only in achieving their individual gradings, but the growth in confidence and respect of each other. Some of the children have led the sessions and the learning. I would recommend the programme to any school.

Simon Hunter


Children’s Letters: Have Your Say!



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Teacher, Child and PTA Feedback:

30th November 2012

I write to congratulate you on another highly successful day at St Mary’s. The Martial Arts Around the World theme was perfectly aligned with our school’s international dimension and proves that the ‘Education Programme’ designs workshops bespoke to the needs of each individual school.

The initial assembly focused on demonstrating the skills the children would cover throughout the day, was effective in highlighting the core values of martial arts i.e. respect and self – discipline. Your active approach to this initial session motivated all learners to perform to the best of their ability during their respective workshop later in the day.

Your use of open ended questions, ability to see each child as truly unique and the manner in which you pitched the activities to the age of each class resulted in all children making significant progress whilst in your care.

The individual workshops were equally as impressive with the children either working collaboratively or as individuals. This fitted perfectly with our current School Development Plan where the skills of independence and collaboration are high priorities, I feel this is another strength of your workshops in that they are bespoke to the needs of each individual schools. In addition, your willingness to link the workshops in with the culture of different countries has resulted in our school being able to apply for the full International Schools Award.

The warm up activities stimulated all leaners, particularly the children who are less motivated during lessons. The series of kicks, defence blocks and other technical moves were successful in teaching the children that it is important to defend themselves when needed and that self – respect along with respect for other people are highly important life skills.

Many of our children have now joined a local martial arts club, enabling them to build on the foundations you and Easton laid on the day. As a school we are certain that the work you have done, and will continue to do in Tameside schools, is simply life changing for many children.

I look forward to the next time we work together to further develop the curricular opportunities of the children at St Mary’s.

Christopher Hanson BEd. Hons, Deputy Headteacher, St. Mary’s RC Primary School

2nd November 2012

Ricky and Fiona recently visited St.Joseph’s RC Primary to deliver their Education Programme – working with KS 2. The children had a fantastic experience and learnt so much!

From a teachers perspective it is great to see the strong emphasis on Fun and Team Work, which the children at all times fully embraced and this resulted in them getting so much out of the sessions!

Ricky and Fiona instantly developed fantastic relationships with the children, giving clear instructions and being so positive and encouraging during the many exciting activities that they had planned and delivered to the children! This all resulted in them managing to get the very best out of each and every child that took part in the sessions.

The children were at all times encouraged to push themselves but also to be aware of other classmates and to always help and encourage these children which I have found has added immensely to the enjoyment that the less able children got out of the sessions!

In short the children and staff at St.Joseph’s can’t speak highly enough of their Educational Programme experience.

Stephen Hill, Deputy Headteacher, St.Joseph’s RC Primary School

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I write to express our gratitude for your recent work with our KS 1 and KS2 children focusing on developing their financial capability skills.

The activity based around managing a budget and ensuring the budgets of both the shopkeepers and the consumers, particularly challenged the children’s problem solving skills. It was also impressive to watch the children developing their knowledge of other areas of our curriculum including the benefits of a healthy balanced diet. The range of learning styles your programme catered for enabled all learners to make substantial progress during the day.

The second day based around world currency was equally as beneficial. The children enjoyed the warm up focusing on developing their knowledge of currencies in non European countries. Again, the active teaching style successfully involved all learners in the process ensuring extensive progress was made for all. Again, the cross -curricular element was excellent.

We look forward to working with you again in the future to further develop the financial capability of our children.

Chris Hanson, Deputy Headteacher, St. Mary’s R.C. Primary & Nursery School

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What did you think of the Currency Game?


“It was very fun and we would like to do it again.”
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What did the group like about shop till you drop?

“Our group got a £5 budget, but we only spent £4.16p! We really enjoyed it. ”

“Very exciting. Everyone loved it!”
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Hello Richard

Really enjoyed Thursday and thought the programme was excellent. The children were really engaged and enthusiastic, and definitely got something from the day.

Thanks again for the opportunity

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What did your group think of the Food Awareness game?

“Group 4 had a lot of fun and learned about Food Groups. They also thought it was a challenge.”

“Very good and we would like to play it again.”
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Did you enjoy working as a team?

“We loved working as a team!”
Bug Truck 1

Dear Richard,

Thank you both for the lovely two days. It was a pleasure to help you both and also to work with the children, I really enjoyed it and the children got a great deal from both day’s.

Again it was a great pleasure to meet and work with you both I enjoyed myself immensely.

Thank you again.


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Hi Richard.

Thanks very much for your lovely e-mail. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get involved over the two days. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got an awful lot out of it myself.

The children were totally engaged with the two days and really enjoyed working with your programmes

Thanks again.


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