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The evaluation was conducted by Corporate Citizenship, a global corporate responsibility agency, with a long track record of supporting and assessing partnerships between companies and charities.
Through FairPlay, over 1000 school children with emotional or behavioural problems attending Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) were given the opportunity to participate in rugby related, on pitch and in classroom activities designed to:
(1) Improve their social behaviour particularly with regard to anger management
(2) Prepare them for a return to mainstream education or help them enter training programmes or employment
(3) Improve their confidence and sense of self-worth
(4) Improve their attendance at pupil referral units
(5) Kick start regular physical activity by the participants
PRUs are a type of school, set up and run by local authorities to provide education for children who cannot attend or who have been excluded from mainstream school. PRUs often cater for children with emotional or behavioural problems, but pupils often attend for other reasons - those who cannot attend school because of medical problems, teenage mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, and pupils awaiting a school place. They do also provide education for pupils who have been excluded, and they can be used to provide short placements for those who are at risk of exclusion. Published data shows that it can cost between £13,000 and £18,000 per year to send a pupil to a PRU compared with about £5,200 per pupil at a mainstream secondary school (DFES).
A total of £328,000 has been spent on the FairPlay project (80% on direct project delivery) which equates to £311 per participant or £450 per participants successfully completing the project.
The assessment has found that, through FairPlay, rugby has been successfully used as a catalyst for positive change among a group of children who themselves can be very challenging, and who face very challenging issues. The programme has raised nearly all pupils' awareness and knowledge around a number of behaviours and life skills that, while generated on the rugby field, can benefit them in their everyday life. This increased awareness has gone on to generate positive changes in behaviour that have been observed by PRU staff. Some of those changes have been sustained significantly beyond the pupils' involvement with the programme itself. The programme has also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the pupils and PRUs involved, with most PRUs keen to run more, and longer, schemes in future. The evaluation has also identified areas of the programme that worked better than others, with on-field rugby sessions generating significantly more benefit than classroom based sessions on work-related issues. It also highlights some lessons learned and provides recommendations for similar programmes in future in key areas like legacy planning.
Willie Wildash, President at the Rugby Football Union was on hand to recognise the FairPlay programme achievements and particularly those of FairPlay graduate, Charlie Watson (aged 18 from London) who was present on the day.
'I am delighted that RFU has been to be part of the hugely successful FairPlay project and am grateful to Spoon, Barclays Spaces for Sports and Sport England for their support. Rugby is the best sport bar none for working with disaffected young people because the sport has values such as team work and respect at its core. Through rugby, FairPlay has successfully engaged with a significant number of at risk young people, many of whom, having been introduced to rugby for the first time have gone on to join their local rugby clubs which is marvellous. Well done to all and good luck to Charlie with his new found career in the Army, I hope you find time to continue your playing and volunteering in the game.'
Kirk Harrison, Head of Barclays Spaces for Sports said:
'Fairplay has proven to be a very challenging but extremely rewarding sport for development programme and has been ground breaking though its interaction with the PRU community around the country. Fairplay has used rugby as the platform to deliver essential life skills to young people all of whom were not in employment, education or training and many who were one step away from juvenile detention centres. Fairplay has succeeded in putting many of these young people's lives back on track and as such we are proud of the programmes' achievements. The excellent work undertaken by Wooden Spoon and the RFU has allowed Barclays Spaces for Sports to learn many valuable lessons which we can export into other S4S programmes both here in the UK and globally.
Bill Hill, Chief Executive at Wooden Spoon added,
'Wooden Spoon is very grateful to Barclays Spaces for Sports and Sport England for believing in Spoon and investing in the FairPlay project. Through the lifetime of this project Spoon and our partners have learnt a great deal about what makes a good community programme. Lessons learnt from this and Spoon's other operational project work have informed the creation of the Game On standard, through which Spoon and our partners aims to create the recognised quality standard of excellence for the delivery of rugby based community projects that engage disadvantaged children and young people in the UK and Ireland. Thanks again to the RFU for delivery of the project and to Corporate Citizenship for providing the M&E [monitoring and evaluation].'
For a copy of the full report: FairPlay supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports, Evaluation Report 2012, please click here.
Charlie's story (beneficiary case study)
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