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Students and teachers want more informal learning…

A new report from Demos, which was commissioned by The Scout Association, reveals that children at state schools feel they are missing out on the non-formal learning that their counterparts at fee-paying schools experience. 

The report, Learning by Doing, features new polling of school children from a diverse range of backgrounds, asking them to rate their existing social and emotional skills, and their attitudes towards and participation in extra-curricular activities both in and outside school.

Non-formal learning

The results of the report show that young people on free school meals are less likely to participate in non-formal learning outside of school than other students, including sporting, outdoor or volunteering activities. It also found that students at state schools feel their schools fail to provide enough outdoor activities (82% compared to 49% of fee-paying students), deliberative activities such as debating (80% compared to 4%) and volunteering and social action (70% compared to 39%).

The research also states that the majority of teachers (90%) feel that their students would benefit from further opportunities and most of them (72%) would support non-formal learning being embedded in the curriculum.

However, 89% of teachers don’t feel there is currently sufficient space in the timetable for them to deliver non-formal learning.

Learning by Doing recommends that the Government legislates to ensure that all UK children have the opportunity to partake in non-formal learning, such as Scouting, as an important means of building the character attributes that will give them the best chance of success in life.

The report also encourages school leaders to cultivate the grassroots take-up of non-formal learning; this could include linking up a senior member of staff with local Scout groups, to identify opportunities to partner together to deliver a programme of activities.

Providing opportunities

The Scout Association has already rolled out a number of projects across the UK to work with schools; this has provided development opportunities for young people who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience what Scouting has to offer. 

Hannah Kentish, The Scout Association’s UK Youth Commissioner, said:

‘This report shows just how much both teachers and young people alike value the opportunities that non-formal learning can provide. If we are serious about giving all young people the very best chance to become active citizens we need to do more of this work. Scouting has so much experience in using adventure based activities to help young people gain confidence, empathy and resilience and we are ready to help partner with schools to make this important ambition a reality.’

UK Chief Commissioner, Wayne Bulpitt added: ‘If we want a step change in growth, then we have to look seriously about working in partnership. We need to be willing to move on from some of the tried and trusted ways we have used in the past.’

You can read the full report here.

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