Rushden Academy is one of more than 300 schools to be awarded Champion School status by the National Citizen Service (NCS), the UK’s flagship youth programme for 16 and 17-year-olds.
The status has been given to 345 institutions who, like Rushden Academy, have excelled in promoting the programme and recruiting young people to take part over the past academic year.
Academy principal Mark Stenton said: “At Rushden Academy, we recognise the markedly positive effect that participation in NCS programmes has had on both our students and the school.
“We have seen a notable change in pupil wellbeing and engagement with academic work.
“For young people, NCS provides a host of practical and emotional benefits, among them a positive contribution to UCAS personal statements and wider social and personal development.
“Nationwide nearly three quarters of those who have taken part in NCS feel more confident about getting a job, and nine in ten feel that it has helped them develop useful skills for the future.
“They also demonstrate high levels of confidence and resilience, something that we have noted among our students who have graduated from the programme.”
NCS is a two-four week programme for 16 and 17-year-olds which takes place during school holidays.
The programme involves teenagers meeting other local young people from a range of backgrounds, living independently, and developing new skills while learning more about their communities and how they can make a difference through social action projects.
There are a number of ways in which schools can work with their local NCS provider to raise the profile of the programme to students and parents, ranging from delivering an assembly to students to attending careers events, parents’ evenings and delivering sessions to tutor groups.
All are free of charge.
To assist schools in tracking and understanding their success in promoting and recruiting for NCS, the organisation has created a tool that enables schools to quickly and easily check uptake among their pupils.
The tool can be used to view data for an individual school and those across the country, and is being supported by the Department for Education (DfE).
Education Secretary Justine Greening said: “It’s really fantastic to see that so many pupils have already benefited from the wide range of programmes provided by National Citizen Service.
“I want to congratulate all the ‘champion schools’ and thank them for their hard work and commitment helping young people across the country gain vital skills that will help them get on in life and fulfil their potential.
“I want to see more schools getting involved.
“The new tool designed by NCS will also act as a great mechanism for schools to track their own progress in engaging young people.”
The tool is now available to view on the NCS website at http://www.ncsyes.co.uk/ncs-in-your-school.
Anna Cole from the Association of School and College Leaders said: “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.”
Michael Lynas, CEO of NCS Trust, said: “NCS is an investment in the future of young people.
“Everyone who takes part has the opportunity to develop new skills, meet new friends from different schools, and gain the confidence they need to be successful in life and work.”
“NCS is pleased to already partner with the vast majority of schools in England, and is particularly proud of our partnership with over 300 NCS Champion Schools.
“We hope our new online tool, endorsed by the Department for Education, will help more schools to deepen their partnership with NCS, benefiting their pupils and young people and local communities.”