Our Impact

Football as therapy: a case study in Brent

The project

Sport and Thought worked with 20 boys at high risk of permanent exclusion in a school in Brent. 100% of the boys were first or second generation migrants and had difficult home lives.

What we did

  • Weekly Friday training sessions.
  • Initially, boys were unable to contain their behaviour: smashing footballs, harsh words, fists.
  • Their internal pain became visible on the playing field.
  • We created a safe space: no removals, punishments or reports.
  • Boys asked to consider why they were behaving as they were.
  • ‘Think not act’ became our mantra.
  • Emphasis was placed on controlling the football and the participants’ anxieties.
  • The young people were encouraged to connect situations on the pitch
    with the classroom.

The results: behaviour

Over the course of the programme, the boys’ behaviour improved dramatically:

  • The 20 young people who made up the cohort were involved in 120 classroom removals and behavioural related incidents in the first month of the project.
  • By month eight this had reduced to 36 incidents (a reduction of 70%).
  • The young people recorded just 10 incidents (a reduction of 92.3%) in month eighteen.

The results: school attendance

  • Participants in the programme increased their attendance at school by 65% to 95%. (The school’s average was 91%)
  • Two years on from the project all the boys were still in school.

The results: academic

  • The national expectation of progression in Maths and English was of 2 sub levels over the duration of the Sport and Thought programme.
  • Our cohort achieved a minimum progression of one whole level.

The results: financial

The programme proved to be highly cost effective:

  • £6.58 was saved as a result of the project for every £1 spent.
  • It is estimated that the project saved the public sector £73,900