Primary school children will be challenged to go on a nature trail, visit a local landmark or make a treasure map through a new “passport” of activities launched today by Damian Hinds reports the TES.
The move is aimed at encouraging more family time and building children’s character and resilience.
The activities are intended to support parents and schools in introducing children to a variety of experiences and fulfilling activities.
However, the Department for Education told Tes that schools will not be given any additional funding to help pupils achieve these goals.
The activities, endorsed by organisations including the Scouts, Girlguiding and the National Trust, are geared toward building children’s confidence and curiosity through tasks like cooking a meal, exploring nature or learning to dance.
Asked whether the impact on teacher workload had been considered, and whether schools and families in disadvantaged areas would be helped to carry out the activities, a DfE spokesperson said: “The activity passport is a resource that is being provided to schools to use voluntarily.
“It is to support structures already in place in schools to inspire character and resilience in children.”
As part of the initiative, Mr Hinds is calling on families to ditch gadgets and resolve this new year to spend time together pursuing new interests.
He said: “When I first became education secretary, almost a year ago, I went around asking everyone I met what they wanted for their children.
“The instinctive answer that came back was never about the curriculum or qualifications, vital as these are – what they wanted first and foremost was for their child to be happy and healthy.
“As a father that’s what I want for my children and as education secretary that’s what I want for all children in this country.
“I regularly hear from teachers that it’s important that children have the chance to try things out, to get a taste of the world around them, to see and do things that they wouldn’t normally do, or go to places they wouldn’t normally go.
“Experience is a great teacher and can equip children with valuable skills that prepare for any challenges life may throw at them.
“What’s on the inside – someone’s character, drive, resilience, and the ability to stick to a goal – is just as important as their academic achievements.”
The list of activities was inspired by Mr Hinds’ visit to St Werburgh’s Primary School, in Bristol, where every child is encouraged to take part in a list of tasks and experiences, with key achievements for each school year to tick off.
The list will be sent to schools in January for teachers to adapt to meet the needs of their pupils and local communities, helping young people to build their personal skills and qualities during the school day and at home.
Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scouts, said: “We know how much young people get out of enrichment activities like these: broadening their experiences, having fun and developing skills for life.
“Not everything can be taught in a classroom, so it’s great to see DfE recognising the value of extra-curricular activities and encouraging young people to build confidence, resilience and get involved in their communities as well.”
The activities on the list are aimed at inspiring children’s ability to problem-solve, providing opportunities to see or visit new places and develop wide interests in new subjects.
The Scouts have previously warned that there is “dramatic disparity” in children’s opportunities to access character building activities.