School is, obviously, incredibly important for children but you should not overlook the value of extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities can help pupils to pursue interests outside of the curriculum, develop important social and life skills, develop their confidence and self-esteem and also help with their academic performance (and employability/university applications down the line).
Uneven Playing Field
Despite this, there are studies that reveal an enormous disparity in participation of extracurricular activities amongst youth and these largely come down to the child’s social background. A study from the Social Mobility Commission revealed that children from the wealthiest backgrounds were 3 times more likely to take up music classes than those from the poorest backgrounds and there was a 20% participation gap in extracurricular sport.
It also showed that as household income increased so did an increase in extracurricular participation. As these activities can be so beneficial and help youngsters to develop important skills and experience that could help them later in life, it is clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and there are a few areas that are worth highlighting.
One of the barriers is the cost of participation as you will find that many clubs and classes can be expensive which will be challenging for those with low household income to afford. This is not the only issue, though, as access can be difficult with many schools and local councils from poorer areas have had to cut back on provisions for youngsters. Another problem is that sometimes those from disadvantaged backgrounds lack confidence and/or fear they might not fit in which stops them from wanting to participate.
So, what can be done about this? There are lots of possible solutions many of which were set out by the commission for the government, voluntary groups and schools. These include a national extra-curricular bursary scheme for disadvantaged families, funding to develop voluntary sector initiatives and increasing the capacity of schools to provide extracurricular activities. This might include using organized transport in the form of a school minibus from somewhere like Allied Fleet which could come to collect and drop off students.
Types of Activities
There are many different types of extra-curricular activities to consider and types for every type of child. A few of the most common include sports, music, art, academic teams, drama and various other activities, all of which can bring many benefits to the lives of pupils and put them in good stead for the future.
Extracurricular activities can be fantastic for developing important skills amongst youngsters but there is a big problem in that currently those from lower-income backgrounds are not participating. Hopefully, the report from the commission and their key recommendations will help to level the playing field and allow all to benefit from these activities outside of school.