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Education Should be About More Than Exams

As the Sutton Trust’s Life Lessons Report confirmed earlier this month, it is not merely qualifications that prepare young people for a happy and successful life. In order to rise to the challenges adult life brings, achieve their full potential and truly flourish, young people need a broad range of life skills. Thus it’s crucial that the development of these talents lies at the heart of our education system.

“Every young person should have the opportunity to build their confidence, motivation and resilience in ways that will benefit them for life.”

Sir Peter Lampl (Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation)

Life skills are at least as important as academic qualifications

Despite an overwhelming recognition of the importance of life skills, 72% of teachers still think that their school should increase its focus on improving life skills. Only 57% of teachers believe that their school’s curriculum helps the development of pupils' life skills.

Extra-curricular activities are critical for enabling young people to develop key life skills and go on to lead a successful life.

62% of young people who take part in extra-curricular activities do well at school, compared to only 37% of young people who do not take part. And those who don’t do extra-curricular activities are almost twice as likely to say they’re not planning to progress to higher education.

There’s a chronic lack of engagement in extra-curricular activities.

Over a third of young people don’t participate in any extra-curricular activities. And this perpetuates inequality. 61% of young people not receiving Free School Meals participate in at least one activity, whereas just half of those receiving FSM take part. Young people in the most disadvantaged schools are 13 percentage points less likely to be involved in any extra-curricular activities than the least disadvantaged schools (45% compared to 32%).

Inequality in access to activities only widens the inequality in development of life skills.

Providing accessible extra-curricular opportunities for young people from all backgrounds is fundamental to enabling them to develop the skills necessary to flourish and reach their potential.

Yes Futures’ programmes include three inspirational extra-curricular trips, developing four key talent areas in students. Confidence, resilience, self-awareness and communication prepare our young people for a successful and fulfilling life

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All research in this post comes from The Sutton Trust’s Life Lessons Report (October 2017).

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