Rugby coaches from Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs will be drafted into schools to instil character and resilience in disaffected children, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced as part of the government’s "core mission to deliver real social justice".
In the year of England hosting the Rugby World Cup, the government is funding 14 professional clubs to design and deliver programmes to use the sport’s ethos of discipline and respect to build character and resilience in pupils. All 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs plus Worcester Warriors and Bristol Rugby will work with local pupils through the scheme.
The scheme will reach more than 17,000 pupils in schools across the country, as well as providing character education as part of an intensive 33-week training course for almost 500 young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
The project, which will receive more than £500,000 is one of 14 that will receive funding through the Department for Education’s £3.5 million character grants scheme. The grants are designed to expand initiatives that successfully improve the character of young people.
The Department for Education’s character grants scheme is expected to improve the lives of almost 150,000 children in more than 1,100 schools. It will also provide evidence on effective practice and resources that will be shared with all schools across the country.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: "In the year of England hosting the Rugby World Cup we are funding the sport’s best coaches to transform the lives of thousands of our most disaffected and disadvantaged children.
"This is part of our core mission to deliver real social justice by giving all children, regardless of background, the chance to fulfil their potential and achieve their high aspirations.
"The values of rugby are those from which all young people should learn. Rugby teaches how to bounce back from setbacks, to show integrity in victory and defeat, and to respect others, especially your opponents.
"The £3.5 million character grants announced today will go towards producing a nation of resilient and confident young people. It will mean our children will be more ready than ever before to lead tomorrow’s Britain."
Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby said: "On and off the pitch, rugby’s core values of respect, teamwork, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship are at the heart of premiership rugby. Our work in the community before, during and after this year’s Rugby World Cup gives England’s professional rugby clubs a fantastic platform to use rugby’s core values to build character."
"We are excited that this new Department for Education partnership will expand this promising community-based approach to reach primary and secondary school children."
Other projects receiving funding announced today include the St John Ambulance, which will receive £250,000 to work with 100,000 pupils to build a nation of resilient and confident young first aiders.
The PSHE Association will also receive £137,000 to develop and pilot a PSHE character curriculum to develop positive character traits in pupils. The materials will be distributed nationally via the 9,000 strong network of PSHE teachers, specifically targeted at schools new to character education.
The government’s plan for education includes a £5 million pledge to ensure that more pupils leave school prepared for the challenges of life in modern Britain, including £4 million to reward and spread the character work of school and charities, and £1 million to research the most effective approaches. An additional £5 million has also been awarded to life-changing projects run by former armed services personnel.
King’s Leadership Academy, a free school in Warrington, was awarded £35,000 in recognition of being the national leader in promoting positive character traits in pupils. The school has embedded character in every aspect of school life, while teaching all pupils fencing.