From education to employment

Calls for better partnerships between youth and education sectors to enrich pupils’ lives

Young people having adventures away from home.

There are concerning patterns in young people’s access to enrichment and increasing barriers that schools and youth sector organisations face in providing high-quality enrichment opportunities.  

Evidence shows enrichment – such as sports, art clubs, volunteering, social action and adventures away from home – can improve young people’s essential skills, health and participation in education, writes Somia Nasim, UK Youth head of research and knowledge management.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport research, Youth provision and life outcomes, found these outcomes are sustained over decades, while the Untapped research, conducted by UK Youth and Frontier Economics, illustrated the economic value and broader social impact of enrichment provision.  

However, evidence also shows wide disparities in access to enrichment.


While schools and youth organisations work hard to provide enrichment to young people, they often face challenges in working together to achieve the same goal. 

Schools may lack the capacity to deliver high-quality enrichment within their current staffing levels. They may also struggle to stay up to date with the enrichment offer of local organisations, relying on word of mouth to form new partnerships.

Similarly, youth enrichment organisations can struggle to reach young people who would benefit from their programmes. While they may work with schools to engage young people, they may equally struggle to initiate and build relationships with local schools. 

Effective partnerships and access to enrichment

In light of these challenges, the National Citizen Service Trust and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award commissioned UK Youth and The Centre for Education and Youth to investigate how the education sector works in partnership with the youth sector to improve young people’s access to high quality enrichment.

This challenge was explored via a literature review and development of 11 case studies covering mainstream schools, special schools and young offender institutions, as well as a range of enrichment activities.  

It can be done

The newly published report highlights how effective partnerships between the education and youth sectors can improve the accessibility, quality and impact of enrichment activities.

It identifies what can be done and how to support the education and youth sectors to work together in offering impactful enrichment opportunities to young people.

 Jacob Diggle, UK Youth’s chief impact officer, said: “No single profession has a monopoly of care for young people. Young people’s lives don’t fit into neat boxes and neither should our support.  

“This research highlights the importance of effective partnership working between the formal education and youth sectors. However, this takes skills and commitment from all sides. UK Youth will continue to call for partnership working skills to be an essential part of the qualification requirements for both teachers and youth workers.”

There are a number of suggested pathways policy-makers can take to create a climate for higher quality, more widely accessed enrichment for all young people.  

Framework of best practice guidance

A framework for effective enrichment provision would be a new standardised and authoritative overview of best practice and guidance for enrichment provision across the education and youth sectors.

This would include different types of enrichment, strategies for integrating youth voice into enrichment design and guidance on effective monitoring and evaluation of enrichment programmes.

This will support more effective and productive partnership working and delivery among the education and youth sector.  

Updated approach to education sector inspections

To strengthen education sector quality of enrichment and partnerships with the youth sector, the report proposes modifications and updates to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework.

These are designed to allow the inspectorate to give higher priority to enrichment and partnerships, with accompanying improvements to guidance and direction for schools on effective enrichment provision, including best practice for education and youth sector partnership working.

These changes to the EIF could have a system-wide effect of creating more incentives for education establishments to prioritise enrichment and enrichment partnerships.  

Training teachers on effective partnership working

Improvements to teaching workforce training could involve changes to the core content framework for initial teacher training and the introduction of a National Professional Qualification to improve teachers’ understanding of effective enrichment provision, youth work and successful partnership working.  

The proposed new enrichment framework might inform changes to the core content framework for initial teacher training.

This could improve early-career teachers’ understanding of effective enrichment provision, youth-work principles and approaches, and effective partnership working.

An NPQ based on the same framework could support access to this learning for teachers who are deeper into their careers. Similarly, approaches to effective partnership working could be added to the various training and qualification pathways for youth workers.  

Enrichment premium

An ‘enrichment premium’ could create the long-term funding stream needed for improving disadvantaged young people’s access to enrichment.

If policy-makers want to increase funding for young people’s access to enrichment, an efficient and effective way could be through an uplift to the Pupil Premium – an ‘enrichment premium’ – specifically for expenditure on enrichment.

Next steps

The next step is to work together in partnership to ensure the recommendations are realised to improve the accessibility, quality and impact of enrichment activities for young people.

NCS Trust and DofE are already working closely with the DCMS and the Department for Education on next steps for the report’s recommendations and any future actions to bring these to fruition.

The work is further supported by research commissioned by DCMS on understanding young people’s preferences relating to education enrichment and provision. UK Youth is working with SQW on this research.   

UK Youth is also working closely with other youth sector infrastructure organisations to address workforce challenges and build the youth sector’s ability to collaborate and solve issues with other sectors including the education sector.  

Somia Nasim is a highly experienced social researcher, with a background in educational research at Ofqual, Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Sector Skills Council. She joined UK Youth in 2020 and heads the research and knowledge management function. She has contributed to numerous impactful projects aimed at informing policy and driving innovation in the education and youth sector.

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