Teachers looking for calmer classrooms, more tolerant, respectful and well-behaved pupils should introduce cricket, according to new research.
A report published earlier this month (Thursday 10 November) by the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University found that schoolchildren ‘developed important life skills such as leadership, teamwork and cooperation, through their participation in cricket.’
The evaluation of ‘Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance’ examined how skills learnt in a competitive environment were transferred back to the classroom. Teachers highlighted the development of pupils’ teamwork skills through increased competitive opportunities. They said pupils got on better with each other and were far more supportive of their peers.
The Institute’s survey of 1,022 teachers found that over half (52% primary and 51% secondary) stated that skills pupils had learnt in cricket had been transferred into the classroom.
A common theme in the report is how pupils were more patient after taking part in cricket competitions and were more encouraging to each other in classroom activities. For example, Dianne Williams, a teacher from Horsley Woodhouse Primary School, said: “Most children are more able to co-operate in team situations. The children have been keen to praise each other for skills shown during the cricket sessions and in the classroom too.”
In the report, teachers explained how cricket matches and tournaments developed pupils’ competitiveness and encouraged fair play. Pupils learnt to win and to lose while discovering how to cope with setbacks in competitive situations. As one teacher described: “There is one boy who was bowled out four or five times in a row and he took it really well. He learnt how to deal with this...and came back and in the next competition and played really well.”
Furthermore, teachers commented that after playing cricket at break and lunchtimes, pupils appeared calmer and there was less conflict when they re-entered the classroom. “There’s a lot less friction in the playground when they are playing cricket” said Sue Wright, a primary school teacher at Mayflower Primary in Leicester, “There is more friction when they are playing football and it spills over into the classroom at the end of playtime, but when they play cricket they are a lot better.”
A Year 5 pupil (aged 10) interviewed by researchers described the therapeutic qualities of sport: “I need to keep my temper down and playing cricket has really helped me with this.”
Teachers found noticeable improvements in the classroom behaviour of some pupils. Those who were selected in the captain role enjoyed leading other pupils and this had helped to develop a sense of individual responsibility and accountability. “A previously naughty child has really shone in the classroom since being given the role of captain,” according to one teacher.
Participation in cricket tournaments had also been used as an incentive to encourage good behaviour amongst pupils. In one school this had resulted in an improvement in the behaviour of a challenging pupil due to his enjoyment of cricket. Another teacher said that using cricket in subjects such as Maths made learning more fun and children were ‘keener to learn’.
Dr Mary Nevill from the Institute of Youth Sport said: "Sport is an excellent vehicle for engaging and educating young people. The Chance to Shine programme has demonstrated how participation in cricket can develop important life skills that can be used both in and out of school."
Chief Executive of Chance to Shine, Wasim Khan added: “The physical benefits of playing team sports is well documented but what’s less well understood are the educational and psychological benefits that organised sport can have on the development of young school children. What this research study shows is that cricket is not only a positive force for good but can genuinely create an environment where a young person can succeed at school as well as learn to be part of a team.”
Other highlights of the IYS report:
• Cricket can help promote the social integration of young people and provide equality of opportunity to boys and girls, as well as those with special needs;
• Female pupils had a ‘stronger sense of identity and self direction’ as a result of their engagement in cricket;
• Chance to Shine provides young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with an important form of organised social activity, generating ‘comradeship, a sense of identity and a feeling of belonging’;
• Teachers indicated that Chance to Shine had ‘demonstrated improvements in pupil attendance, behaviour and attitude towards school’;
• Friendships formed when playing cricket helped to make the transition from primary to secondary school ‘less scary’;
• Many young people found a role within the team that they can excel at and, as a result, those ‘less talented have improved their social status’.
Paul Drury, a teacher from Sprites Primary School said: “It has allowed children other than ‘the footballers’ to have a chance to represent the school, making them feel more part of sport in the school, bringing the children closer together.”
To read the Institute of Youth Sport's Impact Report