We recently caught up with Jennifer Hyde of the Bath Rugby Foundation to find out a bit more about how Rugby is benefiting children on the sports field and beyond with the Consortium funded ‘Stickability’ literacy programme.
The Foundation enhances the lives of young people through sport, with a particular focus on those with social and other disadvantages. It aims to impart the values of camaraderie, loyalty, discipline and respect found in rugby. The Foundation motivates, raises self esteem and confidence, and improves life skills by impacting positively on educational achievement and social interaction.
What are the main benefits of playing Rugby for young people?
Rugby is not just great for developing physical fitness, it is a family that everyone can be part of no matter whether you are a professional rugby player, a supporter of your local rugby team or a parent taking their child to training in the middle of winter. Rugby is about bringing communities together and supporting each other to develop the core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.
What is the stickability program and why it is so important for the young people involved?
Stickability is based on a theory introduced by Carol Dweck which believes there are two ways of thinking about intelligence. Someone with a ‘fixed mindset’ believes you are either born smart or you are not and if you fail or find something hard then it must mean that you are not smart. However, someone with a ‘growth mindset’ sees a challenge as an opportunity to improve and believes that hard work and effort lead to becoming smarter.
Children who demonstrate a fixed mindset have a tendency to lack resilience and motivation, they avoid opportunities to challenge themselves for fear that they will make themselves look stupid, they put great emphasis on being better than others and they don’t enjoy learning when it becomes difficult. It is this fixed mindset that is very damaging when trying to learn something new or demanding and I’m sure many teachers have seen this way of thinking within some children they teach.
Stickability aims to change the way children think about their learning and encourages a growth mindset through using process based feedback. This is where you praise the effort a child puts into an activity rather than the outcome. For example, instead of saying “that’s an excellent picture, you must be very talented” you might say “what a great picture, I can see you put a lot of effort into drawing it”. Over time this helps the child to value effort and persistence when doing an activity and not just the outcome, making them more willing to keep trying and not give up at the first hurdle which is a vital skill to be successful later on in life.
How can teachers use rugby or sport in general to benefit their children beyond the playing field?
Sport is great for teaching many values and skills that are used everyday in the classroom. Participating in sport helps to increase self-esteem, teaches greater self-control, helps to build a positive relationship between the teacher and students, improves communication skills, develops cohesive teams, improves coordination and fine motor skills, the list could go on… Ultimately, if children are given the right support to experience success out on the field they will become happier, healthier, more focussed students in both practical and classroom based activities.
Finally, do you have any tips for primary school teachers on maximising inclusion when coaching tag rugby?
It is vital that children enjoy their tag rugby lessons to ensure they get the most out of it. Here are my tips for making sure the right level of challenge is achieved for all to enjoy it.
- Have a large playing area – the bigger the area the greater the chance of success in scoring a try.
- Have a high ratio of equipment to students – the more active involvement they have and the less standing around the better. It’s all about being able to practice.
- Play small sided games – this actively encourages involvement and gives greater opportunity to practise.
- Arrange groups in different ways for different activities – sometimes it is good to have mixed ability groups to make teams even but it’s good to have variety to keep it interesting.
- Have different sized teams play against each other – 3 more able students playing against 6 less able students.
- Change the shape/size of the pitch – if one team is dominating make the try line they are attacking narrower than the oppositions.
- Give students different roles – the skill of refereeing and coaching are equally as important as being a player.
- Divide the class into two games (competitive and recreational) – this can help give those that are less confident the opportunity to get involved whilst the competitive game is… well competitive.
- Use different types of equipment – practising skills using a netball, frisbee or tennis ball etc. can make it more accessible or challenging for students.
Jennifer Hyde is the Education Manager at the Bath Rugby. Alongside delivering a variety of programmes, including Stickability, she also creates and develops new programmes wherever there is a need in society. She hopes to increase the Bath Rugby Foundation’s reach over the next 3 years to help more people, from all backgrounds and sections of society, living in and around the Bath area. Prior to joining the Foundation Jennifer worked as a PE teacher for seven years at a Secondary school in Wiltshire. She is also in the final stages of completing a Masters in Psychology of Education at the University of Bristol.
You can find out more about The Consortium funded ‘Stickability’ Literacy programme on the Bath Rugby Foundation Website.