Football as therapy: a case study in Brent
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