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LEVELLING UP

Beyond School: The Case for School Enrichment

Why we need a new approach to school enrichment
Francesca Fraser, Adam Hawksbee
November 11, 2022
Beyond School: The Case for School Enrichment

An enriching education is vital to social mobility. It aids academic progress but also helps to build the cultural capital that is fundamental in later life. Yet too often the benefits that come from enrichment are not felt by those who could be helped most. To make matters worse, schools up and down the country are cutting back their enrichment offer in the face of rising costs. The new Government is right to refer to education as the closest thing to a silver bullet. But if this is to be the case, they need to be supporting schools to get the best out of their pupils. School enrichment needs to be part of the solution

Francesca Fraser

Too many poorer pupils miss out on after-school activities that their wealthier peers benefit from because teachers lack the time and funding to run them. 

We need our schools to be better. The disadvantage gap has scarcely closed in recent decades and young people are leaving school without the cultural capital that is vital for their futures. A structured programme of school enrichment is proven to help improve academic attainment and build the soft skills that employers are after and children need.

Despite this those who could benefit most from school enrichment often aren’t offered the chance:

  • Almost half (45%) of young people in the wealthiest decile attend youth clubs, scouts or girl guides weekly, compared to a quarter (26%) of the most deprived decile. Young people in the wealthiest decile are also three times more likely to sing in a choir or play in a band or orchestra weekly. Roughly one in seven of those in the least deprived report doing so, compared to one in 20 of those who are most deprived. Meanwhile just over 50% of young people in the wealthiest decile play a musical instrument, compared to under a third of those in the most deprived decile.
  • Children growing up in the North are also granted fewer opportunities. Young people in the South East are twice as likely to say they play music outside of school than young people in the North East, and 40% more likely to do dance. Almost 5 in 10 young people in London say they play a musical instrument, compared to 3 in 10 in the North East.
Nov 30
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Last Few

Problem

Recommendations

Capacity

School budgets are stretched. Rising inflation, higher energy bills and teacher salaries leave little resources to dedicate to enrichment activities. Where additional funding is provided it is often used to fill existing holes in school budgets rather than for the desired purpose.

Timing

Enrichment is most effective when it is fully timetabled as an additional lesson in the school day. But teachers are already working long hours, especially outside of lesson time. Any attempt to lengthen the school day cannot happen without addressing workforce constraints

Targetting

Take up of after school activities is typically lower among children from poorer families, due to both logistical constraints and constrained parental support.

  1. Create a new school enrichment premium for every primary and secondary pupil, focused tightly on partnerships with local charities and businesses.
  2. Introduce a strengthened accountability model for the enrichment premium requiring schools to declare how they will spend the funds in advance of drawing them into their accounts.
  3. Publish new guidance recommending all schools add 2 hours to their school week for enrichment. This should include best-practice in how to reduce teacher workload, with an enhanced role for School Resource Managers to identify time savings.
  4. Issue a call for a new ‘army of volunteers’ using parents and local volunteers who want to support children in their community.
  5. Encourage schools to open their school grounds for longer to facilitate enrichment and enable the community to use their facilities.
  6. Support schools to create dual entry systems to allow access from members of the public, including by helping to negotiate PFI contracts.
  7. Give local authorities a duty to make sure free and safe transport is available in response to the school’s amended timetable

Problem

Capacity

School budgets are stretched. Rising inflation, higher energy bills and teacher salaries leave little resources to dedicate to enrichment activities. Where additional funding is provided it is often used to fill existing holes in school budgets rather than for the desired purpose.

Timing

Enrichment is most effective when it is fully timetabled as an additional lesson in the school day. But teachers are already working long hours, especially outside of lesson time. Any attempt to lengthen the school day cannot happen without addressing workforce constraints

Targetting

Take up of after school activities is typically lower among children from poorer families, due to both logistical constraints and constrained parental support.

Recommendations

  1. Create a new school enrichment premium for every primary and secondary pupil, focused tightly on partnerships with local charities and businesses.
  2. Introduce a strengthened accountability model for the enrichment premium requiring schools to declare how they will spend the funds in advance of drawing them into their accounts.
  3. Publish new guidance recommending all schools add 2 hours to their school week for enrichment. This should include best-practice in how to reduce teacher workload, with an enhanced role for School Resource Managers to identify time savings.
  4. Issue a call for a new ‘army of volunteers’ using parents and local volunteers who want to support children in their community.
  5. Encourage schools to open their school grounds for longer to facilitate enrichment and enable the community to use their facilities.
  6. Support schools to create dual entry systems to allow access from members of the public, including by helping to negotiate PFI contracts.
  7. Give local authorities a duty to make sure free and safe transport is available in response to the school’s amended timetable

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