Curricular sport-for-development programmes and positive youth development: perspectives in a Scottish context
Treacy, Jennifer Anne
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigated pupil and staff experiences of a curricular sports programme known as the Scottish School of Sport (SSoS). Participation in these types of sports programmes is a promising avenue to foster what is known as Positive Youth Development (PYD; Holt, 2008). PYD is based on a strengths-based model, in which youth are seen as having the ability to develop and enhance socially desirable characteristics. As greater responsibility is placed within the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) for enhancing aspects commonly associated with PYD such as social and emotional well-being, it is essential to understand how school provision may develop these characteristics. The majority of research involving sport and youth development is cross-sectional and quantitative in nature, with very few studies drawing on qualitative evidence. In addition, research involving curricular sports programmes such as the SSoS, and their ability to foster aspects of PYD is limited. This research employed a sequential multi-phase mixed methods design consisting of three phases (QUAL→QUAN→QUAL). The three phases of research began with an exploratory design, which sought to understand the research context through documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with associated SSoS staff (Phase 1) and then to investigate pupil PYD reports with a longitudinal quantitative design that was comprised of two survey questionnaires (Phase 2). The final phase (Phase 3) was explanatory in nature and utilised semi-structured interviews with pupils both enrolled and not enrolled in the SSoS; these interviews sought explanations for the results which emerged from the previous two phases. A further extension phase, which analysed Tweets and the physical environment of the school, was devised to add further depth to findings from the earlier data collection. Findings overall indicated that while participation in the SSoS was a positive and engaging experience for most pupils, it was unclear if the pupils perceive the positive outcomes to be transferrable to other contexts, which was a key overarching aim of the SSoS. Programme ‘selection’ appeared to be a self-validating factor for increases in pupils’ confidence in their athletic ability. With recent requirements such as ‘playing for the school team’ added to the programme documentation, the SSoS has, perhaps unwittingly, taken on a ‘sports-plus’ approach, where the developmental aims have become secondary to sport performance. This research adds to the continuing conversation regarding the possible developmental nature of sport programmes and the continued search for positive avenues in which to enhance social and emotional development and HWB in the school context.