A broad extracurricular programme can help create well-rounded students and put schools ahead of local competitors when it comes to attracting new pupils. That’s why headteachers are recognising the importance of supplementing the curriculum with well-thought-out enrichment activities.
Why should schools offer enrichment activities?
An associate head teacher at a west London school, which has more than 60 enrichment clubs, commented: “Enrichment clubs benefit students mentally, socially and physically. They make school more like a second home, a place where there is room for work and for play. Most importantly, they help us to develop the whole child; schools are more than examination factories.”
“Students soon learn the transformative power of persistence and start to amaze themselves”
She continued: “Enrichment clubs allow our students to grow and thrive. Every time a student steps out of their comfort zone and tries something new, they may experience an initial struggle – for example, karate or yoga moves are not skills any person can master in one or two sessions. However, that struggle is meaningful, and perseverance pays off. Students soon learn the transformative power of persistence and start to amaze themselves.”
What kinds of activities can schools offer?
Examples of enrichment activities include those that help students develop skills and strengths beyond the classroom, such as volunteering for a charity or getting involved in community sports, arts, or music events. Participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is one way of combining different enrichment elements. At school, activities could focus on getting students to set up a school magazine, build coding skills, learn a new instrument or take up physical activities such as yoga or cricket.
What should you think about before setting up a programme?
Set out what key features will make up your programme. Think about the school’s links with the businesses and charities in your local community and whether any work experience or volunteer programmes could be established. What activities can the school offer? Are there any interschool competitions students could be involved in, such as public speaking or spelling challenges?
As well as helping students to learn new skills, enrichment programmes can build on their existing interests. That means marrying up enrichment opportunities with education and career aspirations. At the school in west London, for example, enrichment clubs for GCSE students and sixth formers aim to inspire ambition by offering societies focusing on subject areas such as economics, engineering, and psychology.
Apart from organising sports activities to improve students’ physical fitness, you could also use enrichment as a way of promoting students’ mental well-being. Perhaps provide a well-being hub, where students who are anxious or who lack confidence can learn how to debate with their peers in a safe space.
Explain how your students and your school benefit from the programme
To make sure students and teachers are on board with your enrichment programme, highlight how pupils will benefit – from gaining confidence, building social skills and becoming more motivated to having the chance to pursue their own interests. All of this leads to personal growth.
Another good reason to offer a strong enrichment programme is that Ofsted inspects this aspect of school life. And when you promote your programme to the parents of potential new students, a wide variety of activities could give your school a competitive edge over others in your area.