The FA Youth Development Review stipulates that 9v9 football is the recommended format for the game in club football but that 7v7 is recommended in school football.
The thinking behind this is that club football invariably involves more experienced players whereas school football often involves players who are less experienced and also teams that are selected from a relatively small pool of players.
Schools are reminded that:
ISFA supports the Youth Development Review and believes that 7v7 is the best way to teach football to children in schools at this age
7v7 is also the format recommended by the English Schools Football Association (ESFA)
All competitions organised by both ISFA and ESFA are 7v7
ISFA has received considerable correspondence on this issue from teachers and is aware that the majority of schools are already playing 7v7 at U11 level. Similarly, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of qualified coaches teaching the game in schools are supportive of 7v7, rather than 9v9, at U11 level in schools.
However, ISFA is also aware that there are a small minority of schools who still play 9v9, mainly in specific regions of the country. 9v9 is not recommended for schools but is not actually contrary to the Rules of The FA. However, schools that insist on playing 9v9 football should be clear that 9v9 is permissible only on condition that no U10 (Year 5) pupils are involved. 9v9 is not permitted for any U10 players.
Schools ignoring these regulations should be aware that the sports committees of most educational bodies (eg IAPS) stipulate that schools should abide by the rules of the national governing bodies. Failure to do so could have legal implications should an incident occur when a school has failed to abide by these rules.
Further information is available in The FA Schools Guide which was sent to ISFA Member Schools last summer and can still be downloaded from the ISFA website.