Delivering an effective enrichment programme

Written by: Ellie Jones | Published:
Experience counts: As part of a wide range of enrichment activities, students from Archbishop Blanch take part in the UK Youth Parliament. Student Caitlin Cavanagh is pictured speaking recently at Parliament

Enrichment programmes are a popular platform for schools to engage their pupils in the wider community and teach important life-skills. Ellie Jones shares her insights on best practice

Teaching life-skills and character has always been one of the forefront objectives of education, but often these skills are forgotten about amid the quantitative measures of academic performance.

Recently, however, life-skills have been pushed back into the limelight after it was ruled that PSHE will not be made a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

Now more than ever, developing a thriving enrichment programme is an essential part of promoting employability, academic attainment and teaching young people the skills they need to make good choices. These skills have benefits well beyond the classroom.

A tweet from Tim Peake, the British astronaut living and working on board the International Space Station for six months, summed up perfectly the need for both character skills and work experience.

He wrote: “Character is important – a CV may get you the interview, but character will get you the job.”

A successful enrichment programme will promote the life-skills needed for everyday life, develop “soft skills” that employers and universities look for, while also giving students the opportunity to find out more about their interests and passions.

Define your enrichment programme

As with starting any type of programme, defining what it will actually involve is key.
Enrichment is many things that students can choose to do beyond their academic pursuits and the normal requirements of their life in sixth form. Developing pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural strengths will allow them to succeed in education, work and society.

At Archbishop Blanch School, we have developed a varied enrichment scheme that allows and recognises the many activities our students can get involved in.

The three core areas we work under are work-related learning, community participation, and personal development. Examples within these areas include any voluntary work, activities such as sport, arts and music, charity work, community partnerships and work experience. Having clear objectives in place outlining how students can reach enrichment milestones is essential.

At Archbishop Blanch, years 12 and 13 are expected to do 100 hours of enrichment over two years. We give students the freedom to undertake their own enrichment activities and find an extra-curricular pursuit that they are most interested in. However, it is worthwhile developing school links with different organisations to give students a head start.

Foster links

Creating links with external organisations, companies and charities is a fantastic way to have an on-going enrichment resource for students. Students should involve themselves in an eclectic range of community activities, so forming links to as many organisations as possible is important. For example, links we have include the RAF, Duke of Edinburgh and the Broadgreen Hospital.

Of course, while external links are a great way for students to meet their enrichment goals, don’t forget about the fantastic opportunities at school.

Encouraging students to get involved in school life creates a community ethos within the school and, as a result, fosters development of further skills, such as team-work, communication and commitment.

In-school activities, perhaps participating on the school magazine, becoming a member of a sports team or learning a new instrument, are all great enrichment activities for students to partake in. They can also give students a steer on which subject areas – such as writing, design, music or the arts – interest them the most outside the classroom.

Connect the dots

Taking part in enrichment activities develops skills that prepare a student for life and the world of work. Creating a whole-school approach to this learning is fundamental to its success and will create an inclusive ethos at the school. Make sure your enrichment programme is working alongside your work experience or careers guidance in the school, that way the breadth of opportunities for students can easily be monitored and will work in conjunction.

For example, we run the enrichment initiative alongside our Career Ready programme, which is designed to complement students’ studies and help them perform more effectively in the wider working world. Some of our sixth-formers are enrolled on the programme and are guaranteed a paid internship, alongside a business mentor and a workplace visit.

Explain the benefits to students

Clearly outlining the benefits of enrichment will help students understand the programme, what’s expected of them and why it is a great tool they should be utilising.

The purpose of enrichment is to provide extended learning prospects – it gives students the opportunity to study concepts with greater depth, breadth and complexity, while also helping students to pursue their own areas of interest and strengths.

Not only can an enrichment programme look great on a CV when students apply for higher education, jobs or training schemes, but the transferable skills learnt throughout the programme are significant. The programme can boost self-confidence, develop leadership skills, instil self-motivation and can evidence good time-management. Away from the pressure of passing exams, enrichment extends students’ education and personal growth. It is all evidence of how a student has a wide array of skills and achievements beyond their subject grades.

Explain the benefits to the school

Not only can enrichment help students’ develop and further their skills, but the benefits for the school are substantial. Enrichment is assessed by Ofsted inspectors, who look for “opportunities for children and young people to build their knowledge, skills, understanding and personal development through leisure and enrichment activities”.

Ensuring that you have some sort of enrichment provision in place will be valued and will stand your school in good stead for any upcoming Ofsted inspections.

Furthermore, enrichment is a fantastic way to increase students’ enjoyment of school life and create an inclusive, community spirit within the school.

At Archbishop Blanch, although these activities are an assessed requirement of the sixth form, students value the opportunities they are given and the links to external organisations, as is evidenced by the fact that many of them continue volunteering or working with the organisations in some capacity.

  • Ellie Jones is the sixth form pastoral lead with responsibility for careers at Archbishop Blanch School in Wavertree, Liverpool.


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