Author Identifier

Eibhlish O'Hara

ORCID : 0000-0002-9093-2746

Craig Harms

ORCID: 0000-0001-7256-2326

Craig Speelman

ORCID: 0000-0001-8629-174X

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Frontiers in Psychology


Frontiers Media S.A.


School of Arts and Humanities / School of Education




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2021


O'Hara, E., Harms, C., Ma'ayah, F., & Speelman, C. (2021). Educational outcomes of adolescents participating in specialist sport programs in low SES areas of Western Australia: A mixed methods study. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, article 667628.


Specialist Sport Programs (SSPs) are an underexamined activity that combines the best features of two different contexts for adolescent development: a sporting program and a secondary school. A mixed-methods study was conducted to determine the influence of participation in SSPs on the educational outcomes of lower secondary students in Western Australia. The results demonstrated a significant improvement in specialist students' mean grade for Mathematics over the course of a year, while their mean grade for all other subjects, and their level of engagement with school, remained stable over the same period of time. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with key stakeholders (e.g., specialist students and their parents, as well as teachers and graduates of the SSPs). Overall, the participants felt that SSPs had a positive influence on students' engagement with school, and that this engagement had a positive impact on their academic achievement. Taken together, the results of this research suggest that there is a role for SSPs in promoting positive educational outcomes for lower secondary students attending public schools located in low SES areas.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research Themes


Priority Areas

Exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and other interventions for optimal health across the lifespan