Engaging Boys (KS3) through a targeted programme

13th April 2023
Engaging Boys (KS3) through a targeted programme


Background Information

Many schools have noticed a sharp incline in the amount of students at Key Stage 3 who have struggled to adapt to school life after returning from the COVID lockdown. For many students, this has been a long term issue which has affected their academic work, their social interactions and the way the react to different situations within school.

At King Edward Aston VI school, we have identified a group of boys who displayed some of these characteristics and used physical activity, through the Boys Move programme to impact on our short and long term goals:

Short Term Outcomes:

- Increase sense of belonging

- Increase self- efficacy

- Improve social connections

- Increase empathy and happiness 

Long Term Outcomes:

- Improve behaviour

- Improve attendance

- Improve school experience

- Improve attitude to learning

- Increase aspirations, feelings of self-worth and contribution within the school.

What was the aim of work?

The participants taking part in the programme were chosen by the director of inclusion. The boys were identified for the project as they struggled to control their emotions or demonstrated negative mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

The aim of the project was to equip the boys with the tools to manage their emotions inside and outside school through understanding how they reacted in different situations and developing mechanisms to display positive reactions. This was done through practical and classroom based activities.

The programme was made up of 16 boys in 3 different school year groups from year 7 to year 9; 6 in year 7, 4 in year 8 and 6 in year 9. After the completion of the programme the boys were awarded with an active trip away from the school at an indoor rock-climbing centre in Birmingham.

Which outcome(s) did it focus on?

  • 4. To support the personal development of targeted young people through youth engagement and leadership

Which expectation(s) did it meet?

  • Using local insight and youth engagement to identify young people and schools that would most benefit from a targeted School Games offer.
  • Developing a case study to show where you have made the most impact against local priorities, and through effective storytelling share your learning locally and nationally.
  • Prioritising resources to implement meaningful youth engagement so young people have a voice and choice of opportunity.
  • Work with schools to maintain and grow their active engagement in School Games.
  • Engage with a minimum of one secondary school to promote 60 active minutes practice, and share this within the county and where appropriate nationally.
  • Co-design and deliver a broad and balanced School Games offer that is informed by insight and youth engagement and embeds positive experiences. It is expected that an SGO will facilitate a minimum of 12 targeted inter competitions/events/festivals with clear intent.

Community links

  • Community sports clubs



The intent of the programme is to work with the least active boys within King Edward Aston VI school to improve their physical activity levels and to equip the boys with tools to cope with stressors in their life.

All the boys in the project were chosen because they were inactive within the school population. In addition, many displayed behaviours that were disruptive within school and all the boys were finding it hard to control their emotions, particularly in stressful situations. The aim was to bring these boys together, to share their experiences and use physical activity as an outlet for their emotions. The physical aspect of the programme was also supplemented by classroom based sessions exploring different ways to create positive wellbeing.

Target group

  • Behavioural Challenges
  • Boys
  • Ethnically Diverse Communities
  • White (British or English)
  • Asian or Asian British
  • Black or Black British
  • Free School Meals
  • Pupil Premium
  • Secondary Schools
  • Targeted Groups of Young People

Aligns to Schools Games Intents of:

  • Widening the competition environment to develop character and life skills


Sessions were delivered in 2 hour blocks for 6 weeks; the first session started on Friday 6th January and the last session ended on Friday 10th February. The first hour of each session was classroom-based where the boys looked at a different aspects of wellbeing:

1. Enjoyment and living well

2. Eat, Sleep, Repeat

3. Mental Health Awareness

4. Facing Fears

5. Resilience

6. Discipline and Courage

The second hour was active where the boys tried a different sport each week e.g. Rugby, Football, Basketball, Dodgeball, Table tennis, Multi-skill session. These were decided upon by the boys themselves.

The programme finished with a reward trip to RedPoint climbing centre, where the boys put all their skills to the test. They climbed and belayed for each other, demonstrating courage, resilience and team work.


During the 6 week programme the boys filled out a quantitative likert scale questionnaire at week one and at week six.  The boys were asked what they enjoyed the most about the programme and the majority said they liked the fact that they get a chance to play a variety of sports.

“On a scale of 1-10 how much do you enjoy coming to school?”

  • 100% of answers increased their enjoyment from the start to the end of the programme.
  • 70% of answers increased by 5 or more points.

“I enjoy coming to school more on a Friday now as I look forward to taking part in the Boys Move Programme.”

“On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable are you speaking to other boys about issues at school?”

  • There was an increase from 25% to 75% of participants selecting 5 points or more from the beginning to end of the programme.
  • The remaining 25% increased their responses by over 30% from 0-3 showing improvements throughout.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, do you enjoy the Boys Move programme”

100% of participants scored 7 or above.

“The Boys Move programme has given me the confidence to try new things and not be anxious if I haven’t done them before.”

Key benefits observed during the programme and after were:

  1. The boys were working together and integrating themselves more often compared to the beginning when they were more anxious to do so; overall their confidence grew each week.
  2. The boys effort levels during physical activity increased dramatically; the first active session saw boys trying to stay as uninvolved as possible such as asking to be a referee or a linesman for a game of football (which we allowed to maintain their involvement). By the end of the programme, all the boys took part in an active game of football and basketball where no one asked to be a referee or linesman.
  3. PE teachers have made positive comments about one boy in particular, highlighting his desire to be involved and bringing in his PE kit instead of coming up with excuses as to why he has forgotten it.


We noticed that the boys found it harder to settle in when they had a disturbance at the start of the session. We overcome this by having fun and engaging start to the lesson for example we did activities such as speed stories where the boys got moving around the classroom and asking each other questions about themselves, families or sport.

We also played some interactive team games including tennis balls, playing cards and a whiteboard. We found that the boys were more switched on and ready to take part in the classroom-based activity once they took part in the fun engaging start to the lesson, that could be due wanting to finish tasks that was set to enable them to take part in the active part of the session.

The timings of the programme clashed with year 7 games which meant we only had a small space outdoors allocated to us and the canteen for table tennis. However, on week 4 of the programme the sports hall was available so we took the opportunity to do other activities such as basketball and dodgeball.

By telling the boys what space we had and what activities we would be doing week by week help as they had an understanding about the programme and knew what to expect from week 1.

As we were primarily based outside for the programme we relied on the weather being suitable to do activities outside. We were very fortunate that it only rained once stopping us going outside but we continued with table tennis in the canteen and some bonding exercises in the classroom.

We also had the gym for when the weather wasn’t suitable, which we used to do a circuit using body weight exercises and the cardiovascular machines. Unfortunately, due to heavy snow and snow forecast we had to postpone our initial trip to the rock-climbing centre which the boys were looking forward to however we managed to rearrange the trip and the boys had a great time.

It was challenging at the start to get the boys to engage with each other especially with those that weren’t in their year group or form. We overcame this by doing lots of ice breakers, fun interactive games and sharing stories/thoughts of things they had in common in the classroom and whilst taking part in the active session.

It was difficult to get the boys to interact with other boys they wouldn’t do normally in school, but by the end of the programme they were getting in new groups and talking to everyone within the group.


The school would like the Boys Move programme to continue into next year and beyond with a different cohort of boys. It is the intention that one of the sessions next year is led by the boys who have completed this year's programme to share their stories and experiences. 

The boys from this year's programme have also completed an end of programme questionnaire, where they have suggested changes to the programme next year. It is the hope that these boys can move into the Active in Mind programme when they are in year 10 in order to mentor other boys within the school in year 7.

Top tips

Top tips

1. Plan the programme with the input of the boys taking part. They liked the idea of choosing their own activities and being rewarded at the end of the project with a trip they had chosen.

2. Keep activities short and fun to maintain engagement.

3. Be flexible in your approach - not all activities are going to be liked by everyone!

4. Provide a safe environment for the boys to talk about their won experiences - this may take some time, as the boys were reluctant at first, but became more open as the programme progressed. 

Related sport/s

  • Basketball
  • Cricket
  • Dodgeball
  • Football
  • Handball
  • Rugby Union
  • Climbing

Contributing regions

  • King Edward VI Aston SGO Area