Loughborough University
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The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-07-10, 15:19 authored by Rachel SandfordRachel Sandford, Rebecca Duncombe, Kathleen Armour
The purpose of this paper is to examine the existing evidence about the impact of sport/physical activity programmes on positive youth development in the context of education. The issue of youth disaffection is topical and a number of authors and policy makers have acknowledged that physical activity/sport may be an effective way of helping to address the problem. As a result, a number of initiatives aimed at re‐engaging disaffected or disadvantaged young people through physical activities have been developed and implemented in schools in the UK. Two such initiatives, the HSBC/Outward Bound project and Youth Sport Trust/BSkyB ‘Living For Sport’ programme, are discussed within this paper, and key findings from the monitoring and evaluation of each initiative are presented. Over a period of three years, more than 7000 pupils have been engaged in these programmes, and complete data sets have been collated for over 50% and 90% of Sky Living For Sport and HSBC/Outward Bound participants respectively. The findings suggest that both of these projects have had a positive impact on the behaviour and attendance of large numbers of pupils, and that engagement in lessons and relationships with both teachers and peers have improved and can be sustained. The findings also demonstrate, however, that impact is highly individualised and context‐specific in many cases, and that positive impact is more likely to be sustained when some or all of the following project features are in place: effective matching of pupil needs with the specific project objectives; locating project activities outside of the ‘normal’ school context; working closely with pupils to choose activities, set targets and review progress; establishing positive relationships between project leaders/supporters (mentors) and pupils; and giving pupils the opportunity to work with and for others.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in







419 - 435 (17)


SANDFORD, R.A., DUNCOMBE, R. and ARMOUR, K.A., 2008. The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour. Educational Review, 60 (4), pp. 419 - 435.


Taylor & Francis (Routledge) © Educational Review


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publication date



This article was published in the journal, Educational Review [Taylor & Francis (Routledge)© Educational Review] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131910802393464




  • en