Steven Taylor and Adam Campbell

A group of schoolchildren from Newcastle were treated to a history lesson with a difference today when their stand-in teachers were revealed as Newcastle United trio Peter Beardsley, Steven Taylor and Adam Campbell.

Football development manager and club legend Beardsley, defender Taylor and striker Campbell made their surprise appearance at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle on behalf of North East supply-teaching agency First Class Supply, which is backing the Newcastle United Foundation's 'Toon Times' educational programme.

'Toon Times' uses the power of football to improve the literacy and learning techniques of children across the region and will reach 15,000 pupils across 430 schools in the next three years - including today's class from Atkinson Road Primary School in Benwell.

The children spent the afternoon learning about the football club's long and illustrious history, looking at historic artefacts and getting Beardsley, Taylor and Campbell involved as they re-created their favourite Magpies moments from across the decades.

Central defender Taylor said: "Football is so important to people's lives here in the North East so it's great to see that influence used positively through initiatives like this.

"The work that the Foundation does isn't always in the headlines but it goes on every day and it's invaluable. It's making a real difference. It's a privilege for us as players to get out and support that by meeting the kids and getting involved. We had a great afternoon."

The players were joined at the event by Foundation and Discovery Museum staff, as well as First Class Supply co-founders Stephanie Boulton and Lesley Robinson, who have become the third major backers of Toon Times alongside the Premier League (PL) Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Community Fund and the Heritage Lottery Council.

Lesley said: "Good teaching is all about making the subject relevant and enjoyable and Toon Times achieves that brilliantly by revisiting the history of Newcastle United. It's a fantastic way to engage and inspire children in the North East which is why we are proud to support the scheme.

"In our business it is all about finding the right teacher for the right school to get children interested and excited about the topics they learn. Steven and Adam were great - I'm sure there's a career in teaching waiting for them after football."

The Toon Times project is delivered by the Newcastle United Foundation in partnership with Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums and will culminate in a major exhibition at Newcastle's Discovery Museum in 2014 which could attract 360,000 visitors.

For more information, please contact Sarah Medcalf, fundraising manager at Newcastle United Foundation on 0844 372 1892 x 8445 or sarah.medcalf@nufc.co.uk.