Policy into practice - Extracurricular activities

Anne Longfield
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The issue: Demonstrating soft skills, such as decision making, relationship building, problem solving and teamwork, can really help to boost a young person's employment prospects. Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn's recent report into social mobility says that in order to help narrow the attainment gap between young people from different social backgrounds, schools should provide a range of extracurricular activities.

The recommendation is supported by a report from the Independent Schools Council, which found that schools offering 30 or more activities produce significantly better GCSE results. We need to listen to this advice and create as many opportunities as possible for young people to access a wide range of activities. By doing so, we can help to boost their career prospects while giving them something they enjoy.

CASE STUDY 1

Lambeth Council is now in its fourth year of offering the Holiday Activities Programme. The initiative provides young people in the London borough with a variety of ways to stay active and try new things while gaining practical skills and experience over the summer holidays.

The Young Lambeth service signposts young people to relevant information, events and activities, while its Lambeth Summer University programme, launched last year, offers a range of free and affordable accredited and non-accredited courses for 11- to 19-year-olds. This year, as well as taking part in traditional sport, creative arts and play activities, young people in Lambeth can gain qualifications and accreditation across a range of activities, from African drumming and music production to photography and skiing and snowboarding courses.

CASE STUDY 2

The Transformation Trust was launched in May, with the aim of creating a level playing field by enabling all young people to have access to a rich range of opportunities that may previously have only been available to some.

The trust is working with 67 Building Schools for the Future schools to fund, set up and co-ordinate extracurricular activities that the schools might not otherwise be able to offer. From September, the trust will be funding and providing a selection of projects, ranging from arts and sports activities through to mentoring and careers schemes. It plans to become the largest educational charity in England, offering extracurricular activities to all state secondary schools, as well as expanding into primary schools.

Anne Longfield is chief executive of 4Children

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