What the resource is:
The Double Club (DC) initiative is aimed at raising the attainment, motivation and self esteem of underachieving young people in the school setting. It is an ‘in-school extension' of the Playing for Success (PfS) programme and provides a ‘double experience', linking classroom-based work (namely; literacy, numeracy, ICT) and physical activity. The report examines the effectiveness of the DC programme in different schools.
The aims of the resource:
The aim of the resource is to ascertain the ways in which schools have implemented the DC initiative, looking particularly at how any positive impacts have been achieved.
Key findings or focus:
To place the findings in context it is necessary to be aware of the original idea established in 1998 with Arsenal Football Club, which operated as an after school activity in primary schools. Following this, the NFER (2003) reported upon PfS, established by the DfES and the forerunner of DC intervention, with the aim similar to that articulated in this interim report. The DC work has now developed to include curriculum time with additional lessons led by the DC teachers. Due to the success of the projects, there were 15 sports clubs involved with 48 schools and approximately 3000 young people in 2007/08.
Included in this interim report are the data from five schools, each operating DC in different ways but selected as examples of good practice. In the five case studies, both DC teachers and young people involved in DC viewed it to be a very positive experience, identifying improvements in motivation, learning (particularly literacy), self esteem and attendance. The key features acknowledged as promoting the success of the programme are the application and inclusion of varied learning opportunities and its appeal to young people. One of the factors encouraging participation of young people was their interest in professional sport coaching.
Evidence from interviews provided by some staff highlighted how participation in DC improved the attainment of young people in National Curriculum Assessment. The main benefits to participating schools were improved results, broader curriculum to meet the varied learning styles, permitting teachers to focus on teaching, early intervention and successful social inclusion, improved relationships between schools and greater participation in sport club events.
When young people were questioned about what they enjoyed most about their involvement with DC, responses from many underlined that DC improved their learning. Several of the DC teachers interviewed commented upon the young people's increased willingness to answer questions in class. Some expressed concerns regarding young people's absenteeism from regular curriculum lessons when involved in the DC activities, despite acknowledged benefits. An important benefit recognised by the schools was the inclusion of disruptive young people in the DC, thus enabling school teachers to focus their attention on teaching. Most young people agreed that DC was more interesting than most school lessons; they worked harder and found it easier to understand, as teachers explained work more clearly. In DC, both the physical and classroom-based activities were taught by the DC teacher and revolved around the focus on sport, which were different from regular lessons.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
This research highlights the positive effect of utilising outside agencies to raise attainment, motivate and include young people through involvement in physical activity and other curriculum areas. The design and methods are recognised as being valid and reliable, and conducted by established figures in NFER. The findings appear to confirm the success of the original Arsenal experience and PfS.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
The report demonstrates the potential impact of the development of partnerships with external agencies, in order to support young people in their individual attainment. Tutors and mentors need to be aware of the different initiatives to assist in the creation of opportunities for all in the educational context. This report serves to highlight possibilities for increasing young people's engagement, and one assumes this could be extended to include more than the sports identified in the DC interim report. A discussion with young people about their interests can give a sense of ownership to their learning and teaching, a feeling of self-worth and enhance self-esteem. The tutor and mentor could use this to promote discussion about creating greater opportunities for young people in different areas of activity or different areas of the curriculum.
The relevance to ITE students:
With respect to ITE, the research reports successful attainment by young people though involvement in physical activity. Although the majority claim to participate in the DC project because of involvement with a sport, there is a focus on the learning which takes place and the delivery of both physical and classroom-based activity by the DC teacher. The report shows that the link to outside agencies and visiting teachers is a positive motivator for the young people. For students on ITE courses, it is imperative to be aware of the possible partnerships outside school which can be utilised to enhance the learning and teaching which takes place, and the need to know their young people and who might benefit from such an intervention. DC teachers and members of school staff highlighted certain characteristics supporting selection of young people, this included; those who had an interest in the specific physical activity, possessed levels of literacy and numeracy below that expected for their age, underachievers, those with low self esteem and those with poor attendance. The trainee teacher can therefore benefit from the acknowledgement that if a young person possesses an interest, and if this is fostered correctly, then there can be many beneficial outcomes to their individual attainment.
Dr John Connell
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
DCSF (2009) Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century schools system
DCSF (2008) PE & Sport Strategy for Young People
Ofsted (2006) School sport partnerships: a survey of good practice (HMI 2518)
Ofsted (2005) The physical education, school sport and club links strategy (HMI 2397)