In conjunction with the Department of Education and Doncaster Opportunity Area, we were selected to provide courses in Essential Life Skills throughout 2019.
This programme saw £22 million invested across 12 areas of the country. It was part of the DfE's vision of an education system that prepares young people for life in modern Britain, regardless of where they grow up. Through implementation of its Children and Young People's Plan, Doncaster seeks to become the "most child-friendly borough" in the country by 2020. It aims to ensure the best outcomes for its young people and improve social mobility.
As one of the chosen delivery partners for this local plan, our scheme offered extra-curricular activities to children aged 5-18. This included after-school sessions and some 2/3 day residential visits for young people from some of the most disadvantaged areas. Our programme of outdoor pursuits involved survival skills, orienteering and fire-lighting. It was designed to broaden young people's horizons and give them new opportunities to develop skills in leadership and teamwork.
By helping them to build other non-cognitive skills such as confidence, character and resilience, the long term aim was to improve their self worth - the "can-do" attitude. Motivating these young people to engage in new activities and spend time in the great outdoors also helped them to develop respect and empathy for the environment and others, whilst taking part in some fun activities. Feedback from schools showed many of those children attending had later demonstrated improved focus in classroom activities as well as a better overall attitude to learning.
Some further funding was received in 2020 from the Tween Bridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund. We will be able to offer additional children from deprived areas the chance to take part in our Essential Life Skills programme once the current lockdown is relaxed, and we can do so whilst adhering to appropriate social distancing measures.