effective extra-curricular

Top tips for an effective extra-curricular programme in schools


The two most common types of extra-curricular clubs in schools tend to be sport or music-related. Long may that continue – but there are a wide range of other activities that schools could offer as well to create a truly outstanding effective extra-curricular programme.

With the relentless focus on exam performance (and the curveball that Covid threw into the mix), extra-curricular has been put on the back burner somewhat over the last few years. This is a real shame as everybody knows that education shouldn’t just be about the hours that students spend in the classroom.

Research shows that the students who perform better socially and academically are the ones who participate in extra-curricular activities. However, it is difficult for many schools to put together an effective out-of-hours offering. Time is often taken up with interventions. What’s more, staff are overburdened as it is. It’s a bit much to expect teachers to run a club on top of everything else they do.

This is why some of the best extra-curricular programmes in schools are the ones that draw on the support and expertise of parents and the wider community. Here are some tips for putting together a programme that genuinely inspires.

Run activities that teachers and pupils alike love

Tapping into people’s passions will always be a winner. Despite the issues of workload, many teachers will still give their time willingly – especially for something that they genuinely love doing.

Be open, creative, and experimental in terms of what can be offered – moving things away from the typical sports-based clubs. Not that there’s anything wrong with sport, of course – but there are plenty of other ways to enthuse and engage young people.

Involve the whole school community

Involving the whole school community makes an extra-curricular programme truly inclusive. Involve older students. It is great experience for them and creates positive role models for the younger ones. Give senior students the opportunity and space to lead and watch them flourish as they rise to the challenge. Open things up to all non-teaching staff too. Many are more than willing to run clubs.

Get support from parents and local businesses

Schools should also tap into the experience and expertise of parents and local businesses. It can create a whole new set of role models for students. It can also open up a wide range of opportunities. Not only that, it reinforces the place the school holds within its local community too. 

Why does all this matter so much?

Schools are under much pressure to deliver progress and ever-improving exam results. Therefore, ‘the other stuff’ is pushed to one side. However, the development of young people and preparing them for adult life is about much more than how they do in exams. The culture of a school is vital. Crucially, an enriching and effective extra-curricular programme can play a major part in shaping that culture.

Remember: be open, creative and experimental with your extra-curricular programme!

Sign up to our newsletter and blog for all the latest education news, views and ideas.

Newsletter Sign Up