Research School Network: Enrichment for a richer school experience ELE Craig Barnes discusses Enrichment programmes and the effects on student outcome

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Enrichment for a richer school experience

ELE Craig Barnes discusses Enrichment programmes and the effects on student outcome

by Carmel Research School
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Schools offer their students a huge variety of exciting enrichment opportunities. Sport, music, drama, coding clubs etc. as well as homework clubs and revision classes, are often just some of the extra opportunities students are afforded every day.

We are all aware of the value of cultural capital and that giving students the opportunity to try new activities and sports, has social benefits, but it is often easy to overlook the academic benefits that a strong enrichment programme can have.

Research in to the effects of enrichment on academic progress have been spare, but more projects are popping up and we are beginning to see some real evidence of the benefits. 

The EEF have sponsored a variety of projects to look in to the efficacy of enrichment as a method of improving attainment, of particular note is the Children’s University.

Through the Children’s University programme, children have the opportunity to take on a number of enrichment activities, from after school clubs, to visits to museums and universities. Children keep a record of the events and tasks they have completed and are offered a graduation ceremony”. The result of this was a positive impact on the Key Stage 2 progress of students equal to 2 months in both reading and Maths. 

From the results so far, it is clear that this approach can be highly effective. Where students have a variety of enrichment activities that they can participate in and are well motivated to do so they can make gains in both a social and an academic context. 

In my own work I am embarking on a transition project that tries to tie together academic skills and essential life skills using some of the Skills Builder principles – Part of the hope with this is to answer the often uttered question Why do we have to learn this.” Making links to student’s non-cognitive skills should help students to have a better vision for their learning and development as individuals. 

Although research into the effectiveness of enrichment and the use of non-cognitive skills on student’s academic progress is still very much in its infancy, the EEF have collated a literature review on some of the more prominent papers. 

One of the key findings of the review is that focusing simply on aspirations is not an effective venture and that linking student’s skills to their subjects and to further goals is a much more effective approach.

So, working towards the future, perhaps your enrichment programme offers the children more than you first thought. What can you offer students to really help enrich their lives, culturally, academically and personally

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