A NEET Solution? The impact of an education project for marginalised youth delivered through Premiership Rugby Clubs

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper reports on a project funded by Premiership Rugby and delivered through all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs to 3,000 NEET young people annually. The programme focusses on personal skills, life skills, and employability skills. It seeks to achieve positive progression, raise aspirations and develop individual capacity. As an alternative – and anecdotally successful - approach to the support of NEET young people it has particular relevance in a time of austerity, where structural changes to the youth labour market, and financial cuts in the FE sector have had the most significant impact on the most marginalised young people.

Research Focus
The project utilises a mixed methods approach which includes analysis of documentary evidence such as learning materials; analysis of statistical data associated with outcomes and progression, and observations and interviews with the young people and the HITZ officers working with them. The overarching aim of the study is to validate the impact and effectiveness of the HITZ model and its associated Theory of Change. This paper considers the educational interventions utilised with the young people, exploring which work, with whom, why and discusses what lessons might be drawn from the project in terms of broader development of low-level, broad vocational education, such as the new transition year (DfE, 2016)

Theoretical Framework
The paper is conceptualised within the body of literature exploring the lives and experiences of NEET young people, including work by Keep (2009); Simmons and Thompson (2011); and Pemberton (2012); issues of policy (Simmons, 2008; Wolf, 2011) and work addressing issues of intersectionality which impact significantly on NEET young people (e.g. MacDonald and Marsh, 2005; Shildrick et al, 2012; Mirza-Davies, 2015). The paper also draws on critiques of the vocational curriculum at its lowest levels (e.g. Keep. 2014, Atkins, 2016, Wolf, 2011) as well as that exploring the primary importance of leisure in the lives of young people (e.g. see Ball et al, 2000, Atkins, 2009), as well as on research by Feinstein et al (2006) and by Haudenhuyse et al (2012) which suggests that structured leisure activities, such as taking part in clubs or sports ‘correlates with less social exclusionary outcomes at a later age’.

Whilst there is a considerable body of literature exploring the lives and experiences of young people who are NEET, there is limited empirical evidence to inform particular interventions or educational approaches. This project contributes to addressing that gap in our understanding.

Event (Conference)

TitleBritish Education Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference
LocationUniversity of Sussex


5 Sep 2017