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The Department for Education has launched a new practical guide to help schools and colleges across the country further engage with National Citizen Service (NCS) and find out more about its benefits for pupils.

The resource explains how the government backed programme is proven to help participants build skills for work and life, while taking on challenges and contributing to their community. NCS already engages with over 90 per cent of schools and colleges in England but expects that the guidance will deepen schools’ and colleges’ understanding and promotion of the programme.

Ipsos Mori data shows that 7 in 10 NCS graduates feel more confident about getting a job as a result of taking part. In addition, NCS helps young people build broader life skills including leadership, teamwork, communication and tolerance, and UCAS recommends that students include NCS in their personal statement when applying to university.

Given the various benefits of NCS, the Department for Education aims to ensure the programme is available to every year 11 and year 12 student, and to make it as easy as possible for schools and colleges to work with NCS.

Its guidance includes:

  • Getting to know NCS and arranging visits to your school or college
  • How to promote NCS in your school or college
  • Embedding NCS in your citizenship or PSHE education

The Department for Education resource follows the publication in July of Ofsted’s termly guidance for school inspectors, which drew inspectors’ attention to the NCS programme.  The guidance states that, as part of their evidence for Ofsted inspections, schools can draw on pupils’ participation in NCS, for example as part of the schools’ provision for their personal development or their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Ofsted notes that where schools present evidence about their involvement in NCS, inspectors can report on the impact of the service on relevant aspects of the school and outcomes for participating pupils.

NCS has produced a simple online checklist that will help schools and colleges show how many students took part in NCS, what their experiences were and what they did on the programme. The checklist, which will make it straightforward for schools and colleges to evaluate the impact and show Ofsted and others how they have engaged with NCS, can be accessed here alongside the NCS searchable database which allows schools and colleges to see how many of their students took part in NCS last year.

With over 100,000 young people taking part in NCS this year, 3,803 mainstream schools and colleges will now be able to highlight to younger pupils and parents the benefits that the programme offered their students. The further support for schools will also help them clearly outline the benefits of NCS within their promotional collateral. This important step of sharing and explaining the value of NCS will help ensure the programme becomes a rite of passage for all 16-17 year olds.

Harwich and Dovercourt High School in Essex is one of the schools that has experienced the direct benefits of engaging with NCS. The school went from being rated by Ofsted as 'Requires Improvement' to 'Good', and NCS was specifically cited in Ofsted’s report, both as a way to support pupils with different needs and as an important enrichment activity to improve students’ confidence.

Simon Garnham, Head teacher at Harwich and Dovercourt High School, said: “Our students who take part in NCS really benefit from the travel, the challenge, the meeting of others and the chance to work on a community project. That's why we promote it; we know it's a wonderful opportunity and a very tangible way for pupils to enhance their CVs for college, work and life. Well over 100 of our pupils are NCS graduates, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with NCS to give many more of our pupils the chance to get involved.”

Michael Lynas, CEO, NCS Trust, said: “NCS supports young people in preparing for life beyond the classroom by providing practical skills such as leadership, team building and problem solving. This helps teenagers on the cusp of adulthood to be more prepared for life and work - independent analysis of UCAS data shows that our graduates are, for example, significantly more likely to get a place at university. NCS is fast becoming a rite of passage, with more than 100,000 teenagers from schools around our country taking part this year. We are really pleased to have support from the Department for Education in this new guidance, alongside being referenced by Ofsted, and look forward to working with school leaders to support even more of our young people to be their best."

Anna Cole, Parliamentary Specialist, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), added: “NCS offers young people fantastic opportunities to challenge themselves, explore new horizons, meet people from all walks of life and in the process gain new and transferable skills, maturity and confidence. ASCL highly recommends all school and college leaders embrace the chance for their students to get involved. Together we can help prepare and develop young people for the future.”

About NCS: National Citizen Service (NCS) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity open to 15- 17 year olds across England. It is a unique two or four week full-time programme focused around fun and discovery, plus 30 hours committed to a community project that benefits both young people and society. On this government backed programme, participants build skills for work and life, while taking on new challenges and adventures, making new friends, and contributing to their community.

Government backing means that it costs just £50 or less to take part in NCS and bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is provided for young people with additional needs.

NCS represents great value for money for parents as participants spend up to two weeks away from home with all meals and activities covered. The first week is spent at an outward bound facility participating in activities such as abseiling, water rafting and canoeing. The second week teens live away from home, typically at local university halls of residence, learning how to be self-sufficient, developing new skills and finding out more about the needs of their local community.

Taking place outside school/term time, teens can sign up for the part residential experience and participate in either the spring, summer or autumn programmes. In every programme they will experience four sections that focus on personal and social development including leadership, teamwork and communication skills. Not only do 16 and 17 year olds have the chance to give something back, but it also looks great on CVs and helps with job, college and university applications, building future aspirations. NCS is now recognised by UCAS and taking part is a sought after addition to any CV.

In 2013, NCS Trust, an independent social enterprise, was established to manage NCS and execute the ambitious expansion of the government backed programme. To find out more information about NCS like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to NCSYes channel on YouTube.

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