How rugby could improve boys’ literacy skills

Andrew Bennett
Andrew Bennett
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A WEARSIDE teacher has launched research into how rugby can impact on the literacy skills of boys.

Andrew Bennett, assistant headteacher and leader of learning English at Biddick Academy, Washington, has been awarded a prestigious Goldsmith grant for teachers.

The Goldsmith Company gives out grants, of up to £5,000, to projects they think have educational merits beyond the classroom and can influence teaching of a particular subject.

Mr Bennett, who is also a British Council active citizen for literacy development and North East representative of the National Association of Teachers of English, NATE, was awarded the grant to extend his research into the effect playing rugby can have on the literacy progress of boys.

Mr Bennett said girls are still out-performing boys in literacy and his project has been identified as one that will hopefully engage more young boys in literacy.

His initial study showed that boys who played rugby before a speaking and listening GCSE task did better than those who had been in a lesson or just doing exercise.

He said: “With the RBS Six Nations tournament every year and the Rugby World Cup being held in England next year, the potential to use rugby is huge and largely untapped.

“I want to be able to find out more with this grant and then help share the resources, created and found, with other schools. It’s really exciting.”

Mr Bennett will be aiming to visit all the six nations countries and the International Rugby Board to share the results and to find out just how they are going to use the tournaments to help engage boys into not only playing rugby, but also improve their reading, writing and oracy skills.

The assistant head added: “Biddick has been great supporting my application and I am hopeful that not only my students will gain from this but all students.”

Mr Bennett got the idea for the research after taking part in an international study visit into boys literacy last year.

He said: “I just thought that if I could bottle the enthusiasm and passion on a rugby/football pitch and let them open it in the classroom we would make great improvements.”

This project will run over the next eight months and Mr Bennett is keen to hear how other schools and even rugby clubs are using the sport for literacy development. Anyone who wants to get in touch can tweet him @1810consultancy.