Enrichment activities for ALL
What’s the issue?
Opportunities offered to young people through extra-curricular and enrichment activities have been brought to the forefront recently. Two key State of the Nation Reports were released last week, bringing attention not only the importance of these opportunities, but also the disparity of access that young people have to them depending on their socio-economic background.
As we can see in the report by the Social Mobility Commission, key issues around access to opportunities for young people are broad and interconnected with other socio-economic factors:
Nearly one in three children in the UK now live in poverty (around 4.3 million). Disadvantaged pupils in England are now as much as seven months behind their more privileged peers at school, including the gaps that grew in the last year. Young people have been more susceptible to job losses, with an 8.7% drop for working class men aged 16-24.
Children growing up in poverty will suffer worse health, education and life outcomes– and their chances for social mobility will be severely constrained. Helping families out of poverty leads to better education outcomes, increased earnings for the child when they reach adulthood and even improved life expectancy. And ultimately, it benefits everyone in society when we are all better off.
Similarly, the recent Children’s University report provides evidence and impact relating to the importance of learning beyond the classroom and the disparity currently in our schools. In this report, one of their 10 key recommendations is for families and carers of the most socially excluded children to be able to access as much quality learning beyond the classroom as those families for whom there are fewer barriers.
They also recommend that all children must be given the same opportunity and freedom of choice to actively shape their own learning beyond the classroom.
How can Cut The Mustard Club help change the future for young people?
If we are truly to achieve a fair and inclusive education system for all, where all children can thrive both at school and beyond into employment or additional educational routes, we need a wide range of solutions and opportunities.
Cut The Mustard Club is one of these solutions. We inspire children to discover themselves, and their strengths, through a range of outdoor experiences. Our vision is a world in which every primary and secondary-age child can engage in extra-curricular activities outside, regardless of their background.
We are inclusive to all and don’t let financial circumstances stand in the way of discovery, growth and achievement. Cut The Mustard Club addresses and exploits the mental and physical benefits of the outdoors, with hands on experiences which grow children’s confidence and aspiration to learn.
A young person taking part in a ‘Cut the mustard club’ workshop at our idyllic nursery learns more about nature, gardening and environmental issues. They equip themselves with skills such as organic planting and seed sowing, effective recycling, nurturing wildlife habitats, understanding soil types and seasonal growing and eating. They also develop a range of behavioural skills from learning outdoors. A study by the National Trust on tackling ‘Natural Deficit Disorder’ concluded: ‘Children who learn outdoors know more, understand more, feel better, behave better, work more cooperatively and are physically healthier’.
CTMC works closely with school groups and councils to develop a ‘journey’ for each young person we interact with. Collaboratively we decide on a number of skills for the individual to achieve and determine the award they are going to work towards. By encouraging visits on a regular basis, we build relationships with teachers and their students to measure the impact of our interventions over the course of an academic year. This opportunity is vital for disadvantaged young people as we give them access to nature, which holds infinite possibilities, as well as up-skilling them.
It isn’t just young people who benefit; their increased knowledge, skills, attitude and behaviour influences families, schools, communities and the next generation. If more people are able to enjoy recreational activities outdoors, they are 24% more likely to be physically active, saving the NHS £2.1 billion per year.
We need to work collectively to ensure ALL our young people are given the same opportunities. That is what will enable a fairer society.