Teenage boys taking part in a scheme which uses football to raise educational attainment are more likely to complete an extra year of schooling, research shows.
Those taking part in Edinburgh University’s Educated Pass initiative were nearly 20 per cent more likely to complete sixth year compared with the Scottish average.
The programme works with 13 and 14-year-old boys who play for local youth teams to show how the school curriculum is relevant to them.
Researchers said 77 per cent of boys taking part in the initiative stayed until their final year of secondary school, in comparison with 59 per cent of males across Scotland.
Project leader Neil Speirs said: “Educated Pass has addressed the academic underachievement of male pupils with great success.
“The results from our report are incredibly heartening and demonstrate the important role that sport – football in particular – can play in engaging young people in education.”
Educated Pass is funded by the Sutton Trust charity and run in collaboration with Edinburgh College, West Lothian College and the Scottish Youth Football Association.
The scheme is one of a number of projects run by Edinburgh University to encourage pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider going into higher education. It encourages boys to apply the same level of commitment in the classroom as on the pitch, with participants more likely to go on to further study, training or work after leaving school.
Statistics show that all of those who took part entered higher or further education, training or employment – 8 per cent more than the Scottish average.
Figures also show 77 per cent of the group achieved one or more SCQF level qualification – predominantly Highers – which is 21 per cent higher than the average across Scotland.
Scotland’s universities have been heavily criticised in the past for not admitting enough students from poorer backgrounds.
Professor Peter Mathieson, principal of Edinburgh University, said: “Widening participation is an absolute priority for us, and it is wonderful to see evidence of the real impact an original project such as Educated Pass can have.
“We have a strong track record for innovation in this area, and this is something we will continue to do to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider studying at Edinburgh.”