In conjunction with the Department of Education and Doncaster Opportunity Area, Austerfield Study Centre was selected to provide courses in Essential Life Skills throughout 2019.
This programme saw £22 million invested across 12 areas of the country and is 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, ensuring the best outcomes for its young people and improving social mobility.
As one of the chosen delivery partners for this local plan, our scheme offered extra-curricular activities to children aged 5-18 from some of the most disadvantaged areas, and included after-school sessions and some two and three day residential visits. Our programme of outdoor pursuits involved survival skills, orienteering and fire-lighting and 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. The feedback from schools was that 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 earlier this year from the Tween Bridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund. We will be able to offer the chance to take part in our Essential Life Skills package to additional children from deprived areas, once the current lockdown is relaxed, and we can do so whilst adhering to appropriate social distancing measures.