Premiership Rugby’s On The Front Foot schools programme drew special praise from Minister for Children and Families Edward Timpson MP today after a panel met to discuss the positive impact of the project in Parliament.
The rugby-based character education programme was created and delivered by all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs – alongside London Welsh and Bristol Rugby – in primary and secondary schools, funded by the Department of Education.
More than 17,500 children benefited from the character-building, confidence and social skills learned on the course.
And following independent evaluation from think tank Demos, studies found the programme had delivered ‘statistically significant and positive impacts’ on the character development of young people.
Mr Timpson attended a round-table session in Westminster with members of Premiership Rugby, Demos and the Jubilee Centre of Character and Values, to discuss the results.
The Minister said: "We are determined to spread educational excellence everywhere and promoting positive character traits is at its heart.
"One way of doing so is through rugby, which instils resilience and the ability to bounce back from defeat.
"It’s finding that right vehicle for each child, for those young people where rugby is that vehicle it can be life changing."
Teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship are all taught through classroom-based and practical learning on the programme.
Demos, one of the UK's leading cross party Think Tanks, found increases in performance, character, confidence and improvements in character capabilities related to social skills.
"It’s finding that trigger which is going to inspire that person to see a different road ahead of them," the Minister added.
"These types of programme, we need to build on them, demonstrate they work and embed them in as many schools as we can.
"I hope this report can grow into something bigger. Clearly we don’t want to see this work wither on the vine, we want it to be a building block to show that rugby is not for the few but for the many and for children it can transform their life chances.
"That's why last year we announced funding to send the best rugby clubs into schools to transform the lives of disaffected and disadvantaged children – and I am delighted to see the programme going from strength to strength."