Behaviour and Discipline in Schools

Memorandum submitted by Youth Sport Trust

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Youth Sport Trust is an independent charity focused on building a brighter future for young people through high quality Physical Education (PE) and sport. Since its creation in 1994, YST has sought to promote the importance of PE and school sport and ensure that it is attractive, accessible, affordable and appropriate to all young people.

1.2 A network of school sport partnerships was established to improve the opportunities for PE and school sport . There are 450 School Sport Partnerships covering every maintained school in the country, each consisting of a sports college or academy, secondary schools, primary schools and special schools, working together to develop PE and sport opportunities for all young people. T he Youth Sport Trust provides support to these partnerships , i n addition to running number of programmes targete d at young people . Winning the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012 is a unique opportunity to turbo-charge this work and ensure that PE and sport in schools is revolutionised and embedded within the school system.

1.3 Over the past 15 years it has also looked at the ways in which sport can impact on other areas of school life. PE and sport are crucial components of a well-rounded education provision, having the power to improve young people’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development.

1.4 This response outlines the evidence base supporting the statement that PE and school sport have a positive impact on behaviour and attendance of young people in schools.

2.0 Recognising the role and impact of sport

2.1 There is a growing evidence base that clearly demonstrates the impact of sport in improving behaviour and attendance in schools. The improvement of both can also positively impact on academic achievement. A number of recent reports and ‘in progress’ studies demonstrate the value of sport, and competition in particular, in improving the behaviour of young people . For instance, a recent Centre for Policy Studies report says:

"Competitive sport provide s many teenage boys with what they crave – an outlet for their energy and aggression, a group with which to identify and a chance to prove themselves in front of their peers and to win the approbation of older males. Boys are motivated by competition even if they lose." Wasted: The betrayal of white working class and black Caribbean boys, Harriet Sergeant , 2010 .

Meanwhile, the Centre for Social Justice is currently undertaking a project into harnessing the power of sport to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people , recognising that ,

" Sporting activity can serve as a means through which young people at risk of falling into crime, drug addiction or youth unemployment can be engaged and steered into educational or vocational schemes. In addition, much voluntary sector work has focused on the impact that sport can have upon pupil behaviour in schools, resulting in improved attendance, concentration, goal-setting and even academic performance. The possibilities for achievement and development contained within organised, structured recreational programmes are especially valuable when applied to those whose exclusion from education or involvement in drug use or petty criminal activity has left them with no comparable experiences. "

From the Centre for Social Justice website.

There is a long tradition of using sport and arts activities to work with older disaffected and delinquent young people, but little systematic evaluation of its efficacy . With a climate of debate that increasingly recognises the role of physical education and sport in improving behaviour, the Youth Sport Trust would like to provide the factual evidence of a number of qualitative research studies that demonstrate this statement.

3.0 The evidence base demonstrating improvement on behaviour and attainment

2.2 One of the ways in which behaviour and attendance can be improved is through the use of positive role models. A number of programmes currently exist that see athletes mentors providing mentoring and support to disengaged young people through sport, with the goal of leading to a reengagement with education as a whole. Athletes can show new opportunities and encourage young people to widen their horizons, to self review and to take on responsibility.

One of the programmes run by the Youth Sport Trust with Sky Sports – Sky Sports Living for Sport uses sport to motivate and inspire 11-16 year olds to be the best they can be.  It’s completely free and available to all secondary schools in the UK. Since, 1993, over 1000 schools have signed up.

The Youth Sport Trust commissioned the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University to carry out an independent evaluation of the social and brand impact of Sky Sports Living for Sport. The evaluation interviewed 220 secondary school teachers who participated in the initiative between 2008 November and June 2010. The results showed that 8 3% of young people chosen to participate in Sky Sports Living for Sport because of t heir attainment and achievement  have shown a positive improvement . 88% of young people chosen to participate in Sky Sports Living for Sport because of their self confidence and self worth have shown a positive improvement .

3.1 The Institute of Youth Sport has just published a review of literature on the i mpact of PE and sport on various educational outcomes .

On cognitive functions it concludes:

· A positive relationship exists between physical activity and cognition with primary and middle-school age children gaining the most benefit in terms of enhanced cognitive function

· Perceptual skills, attention and concentration are all improved by a bout of physical activity, but perceptual skills seem to benefit the most from prior exercise

· Prior exercise may be beneficial for cognitive function in both the morning and the afternoon as studies have shown an improvement in adolescents’ performance on visual search and attention tests in the morning and on children’s performance in mathematics after an afternoon walk

O n classroom behaviours that may impact on academic achievement it concludes:

· As little as 10 minutes of additional organised physical activity in or outside the classroom implemented into the school day improves classroom behaviour, and consequently may enhance academic performance

· The addition of break times when physical activity is undertaken improves classroom behaviour and consequently may enhance academic performance.

On school attendance it concludes :

· large cross-sectional studies have shown a positive relationship between participation in sports programmes and school attendance and between physical fitness and school attendance

3.2 Zoneparc is a primary playground project aimed at tackling social exclusion and increasing activity levels of young people by introducing innovative break time activities and playground management systems to make break times safer and more fun for everyone in school . In the Zoneparc project, the great majority of participating schools highlighted behavioural problems as one of the issues they faced, linking this with playground experiences. Schools were also concerned about the impact of playground behaviour on the classroom, as problems that arose during break times could disrupt later lessons.

The quantitative data again provided some evidence of positive impacts of Zoneparc. 40% of all children reported that people fight and argue less in the new playground, while staff indicate that the number of incidents of unacceptable behaviour have decreased by 43% at Key Stage 1 and by 63% at Key Stage 2. As such, the amount of time spent dealing with playground incidents have, according to staff, decreased by 43% and 53% at Key Stage 1 and 2 respectively. These changes may not seem too significant, however – numerous site visits, observations, discussions and interviews indicate much more substantial and significant changes. In this instance the survey findings may be skewed by particularly negative results in one school where the project was encountering a number of operational difficulties, some children were disaffected from it, and many of the pupils described aggressive incidents on the increase.

In the great majority of other schools it was clear from the in-depth case study work that levels of aggression, bullying and fighting had decreased dramatically. The proportion of children who ‘felt safe’ in the playground rose by 53%. This accords with the views expressed during the project. The childrens’ perception was straightforward: bullying had been alleviated because ‘the bullies’ were no longer under-occupied. Staff agreed, and also highlighted the spillover benefit in the classroom.

4.0 The Role of School Sport Partnerships and Sports Colleges in this improvement

4.1 The Youth Sport Trust believes its work both as a charity and through School Sport Partnerships positively improve s behaviour in a number of ways. Programmes that provide young people with positive role models, increased opportunity and encouragement to take up leadership and volunteering roles within school, and the benefits of a wider range of sporting opportunities allowing anyone to find a pursuit that they enjoy , all encourage better behaved and more motivated young people. The Youth Sport Trust has commissioned a number of pieces of research that study the impact of School Sport Partnerships and Sports Colleges , some of which are detailed below .

4.2 The 2010 Institute of Youth Sport review of literature on the impact of PE and sport on various educ ational outcomes concludes that:

· In the UK the nationwide School Sports Partnership programme has had a positive impact on attendance .

· To impact whole school attendance, physical education and school sport programmes should be innovative, engage the whole school in daily or weekly activity p rogrammes and be fully integrated within a multi-dimensional school aim of improving attendance, increasing attainment, and changing attitudes to learning .

4.3 In 2007 the Youth Sport Trust commissioned the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University to investigate the impact of specialist sports colleges on behaviour. This research found that specialist sports colleges are significant centres of innovation in addressing issues of attendance and behaviour and their physical education departments often play a lead role in devising, piloting and supporting initiatives designed to improve attendance and behaviour. The three most obviously sports-related initiatives (Sky Sports Living For Sport, cross-curricular links, and sports leadership) were identified as making a substantial contribution to improvements in behaviour. According to science teaching staff, sports college status has had a positive impact on:

· pupils’ attendance (62% of respondents who reported a change reported that sports college status had had a positive impact);

· behaviour (particularly handing in of homework);

· staying on task;

· participating in lessons.

4.4 Findings from this study suggest that there is an important role for physical activity/sport initiatives in behaviour improvement; principally and most powerfully through the development of skills and values that may be fostered readily in and through physical activity. These include positive social behaviours such as empathy, teamwork, cooperation and responsibility. The findings from the case studies of this research echo the findings in the broader research literature on the impact of PE and school sport programmes on the development of skills such as teamwork, a sense of personal responsibility, for example through leadership, and improvements in self-esteem and self-confidence. However, further research was necessary to be able to isolate the impact of PE and school sport on behavioural outcomes.

5.0 Recommendations

5.1 Sport is a sizeable motivating factor for young people and can be successfully used to improve behaviour and attendance within schools , which in turn can lead to better academic results and whole school improvement . There is an increasing body of evidence to support this statement.

5.2 High quality PE and school sport should form part of a well-rounded school curriculum, can be adapted to include those young people not traditionally engaged in sport, and can help young people to develop important life skills useful in employment after their education. Working with partners across the sport and education landscapes, including Olympics sponsors, the Youth Sport Trust is developing interventions, programmes and resources to engage for all young people, tailoring where necessary to recognise the need to engage particular types of young people.

5.3 School Sport Partnerships are having a positive impact on school behaviour and attendance through their delivery of high quality PE and sport opportunities. They provide t raining and deployment opportunities for young leaders and volunteers across the local area, increasing the numbers taking part far beyond those that individual schools are able to reach. Leadership and Volunteering is crucial in engaging young people with their school, community and peers , and should be integral to the education system.

5.4 School Sport Partnerships provide added value for their government investment. As a single point of contact they make it easier for NGBs , sports clubs and others to communicate to schools and provide economies of scale in purchasing provision (i.e. coaches). They should retain their funding following the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.

October 2010