Greenhouse Sports is a London-based charity that uses sport to help young people living in the inner city realise their full potential. They currently run 40 programmes in secondary schools and 9 in schools for pupils with special education needs, as well as four community clubs.

The charity received NHS support to conduct research with Loughborough University looking at Greenhouse Sports’ school-based delivery model, examining the link between the intervention and pupils’ life chances. Volunteers Carolynne Mason and Paul Downward from Loughborough University worked on this report.

Pro Bono Economics was approached by the charity to conduct an independent review of the report.

The study examined data from over 700 participating pupils at four inner-city London schools, in which the model has been established for over three years. The pupils involved often had histories of poor attendance and academic attainment: some were on the cusp of being excluded. The data on attendance, behaviour and attainment was examined against control groups and combined with the findings of 20 qualitative interviews. These were conducted with headteachers, Greenhouse Sports’ full-time coaches, heads of PE and participating pupils.

The findings of the report show that on average, 36% of Greenhouse Sports pupils exercise for more than 60 minutes a day, a figure which is twice the London average of 16%. Additionally, engagement with Greenhouse Sports accounts for an average annual attendance increase of 4 percentage points and programme participants in Greenhouse Sports schools outperform their peers by up to a third of a grade in English and 40% of a grade in Maths. As well as improving attendance and attainment, the intervention has been found to combat physical and mental health issues in children.

Greenhouse Sports’ Chief Executive, John Herriman said:

“We believe that schools are one of the best settings to engage young people with this type of sports intervention because working in partnership offers the best way to have the greatest impact.  A full-time Greenhouse Sports coach and mentor helps to create a safe, fun and challenging environment that enables young people to achieve their potential. Get this right and the results can be genuinely transformational, and this is something we have been passionate about for the last 15 years during which time we have worked with over 40,000 young people.

We asked ourselves some challenging questions in this research by Loughborough University which was also externally reviewed by volunteering charity Pro Bono Economics.  It provides unequivocal evidence of the positive impact of intensive sports coaching and mentoring on the lives of young people, and also supports our view that further high quality research is needed to continue to inform policy in this area.” 

Loughborough University Faculty member and author of this report, Carolynn Mason said:

“Robustly demonstrating the impact of sports-based intervention programmes on young people is extremely difficult. The scoping study enabled us to trial an approach in a small number of schools engaged with Greenhouse Sports. Despite initial scepticism about what it would be possible to demonstrate using pre-existing school data, the analysis revealed widespread evidence that meaningful engagement in the Greenhouse Sports programmes was associated with a range of positive outcomes for students when compared to students who did not participate. We are looking forward to the next stage of the research, which will examine whether these findings are replicated in a larger sample of schools.”  

Julia Grant, Chief Executive of Pro Bono Economics said:

“We were delighted to quality-assure this excellent report by engaging one of our volunteer economists. Our assistance to charities is unbiased and robust, and our work for Greenhouse Sports confirms that its intervention in schools really does make a difference to attainment, attendance and behaviour. I have personally worked with Greenhouse for some years now, and am pleased to see that economic evidence produced by Loughborough University and our volunteers can back up the charity’s impact narrative."

We would like to thank Carolynne and Paul for their work in reviewing this report, which is available to download below.

11th December 2017