This report explores the practical application of character education through participation in sport. Character is at the forefront of the Department for Education priorities in the coming years in an effort to not only support academic success, but to offer young people the opportunity to develop skills they will need once they have left school.

This report looks at the impact of On the Front Foot, a character education programme designed and delivered by Premiership Rugby. The programme is part of the government’s £5m funding initiative to highlight best practice, support provision, and develop the evidence base for character education in England. It used rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.

Demos have been involved in the independent evaluation of the delivery of programme, which sought to capture findings both in terms of the character capabilities of participants and the process.

Ultimately, this report concludes that it is possible for rugby-based education programmes to successfully develop various character capabilities in participants, and it presents a series of findings, including:

  • Participants experienced a significant positive change in their character capabilities over the course of the programme.
  • Positive change was particularly notable amongst secondary participants, who felt the programme had not only improved their character but also their performance at school.
  • Primary participants said that playing rugby was a source of pride and it helped develop respect, teamwork, cooperation and resilience and determination.
  • The programme also increased sport participation among both primary and secondary participants.
  • Many participants appeared to have picked up the values of the programme and some said they had reflected on them outside of the programme, in other sports, school, and other aspects of their lives.

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