Pupil academic success can be boosted by sports-based mentoring in schools

 Pupil academic success can be boosted by sports-based mentoring in schools

NHS England-supported research from Loughborough University suggests that engagement with Greenhouse Sports’ school-based sport programmes improves pupils’ core life skills and combats physical and mental health issues

Greenhouse Sports’ intensive school-based sports programmes achieve positive behavioural change, reduce absenteeism and raise academic performance for pupils between the ages of 11 and 16, in some of London’s most deprived areas, according to study.

Independently reviewed by volunteering charity Pro Bono Economics and supported by the NHS, the study assessed the impact of the Greenhouse Sports model - established for a minimum of three years in each school - on the attendance, behaviour and academic attainment of over 700 participating pupils at four inner-city London schools.

As well as looking at the individual impact, the research also assessed the effect that structured sports programmes from Greenhouse Sports - which includes basketball, tennis and table tennis - has on the wider culture of the four participating schools.

This data, which included pupils who had not engaged with Greenhouse Sports programmes was combined with the findings of 20 qualitative interviews, which gathered the views of head teachers, heads of PE, Greenhouse Sports’ full-time coaches and participating pupils.

The research assessed whether participating pupils were gaining the Social, Thinking, Emotional and Physical (STEP) skills to improve core skills, including resilience, team-building, persistence and time management.

The pupils enrolled in Greenhouse Sports programmes often had histories of poor attendance and academic attainment and in some instances were on the cusp of being excluded.

The researchers at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences found that, when compared to the London average, pupils on the Greenhouse Sports programmes are twice more likely to meet or exceed the 60 minutes of exercise a day recommended by government.

In addition, an average of 36 per cent of Greenhouse Sports pupils do 60 minutes of exercise a day, compared to just 16 per cent of young people living in London who meet these recommended hours of physical activity.

The researchers also found a very strong link between participants’ increased school attendance and a rise in academic attainment. In one school, the programme consistently raised attainment, with Greenhouse Sports pupils outperforming their peers by a third of a grade in English and 40 per ceny of a grade in Maths.

Participating pupils became strongly motivated by Greenhouse Sports’ programmes, which are delivered by highly-trained full-time sports coaches who also act as personal mentors. As a consequence, the participating pupils attended between 3.5 days and 10 more days of school a year than their peers in control groups. In one school, pupils who regularly participated in Greenhouse Sports’ programmes, which are mainly delivered outside the school curriculum, consistently attended, on average, a week’s more school per year than their non-Greenhouse peers.

The research thus suggests that Greenhouse Sports’ model of embedding full-time sports coaches into schools can improve the opportunities afforded to London’s young people, as well as their overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Greenhouse Sports’ chief executive, John Herriman said: We believe working in partnerships with schools is the best way to engage young people with this type of sports intervention. A full-time Greenhouse Sports coach and mentor helps to create a safe, fun and challenging environment that enables young people to achieve their potential.

“We asked ourselves some challenging questions in this research by Loughborough University which was also externally reviewed by volunteering charity Pro Bono Economics. It provides unequivocal evidence of the positive impact of intensive sports coaching and mentoring on the lives of young people, and also supports our view that further high-quality research is needed to continue to inform policy in this area.”

Read more