Curriculum Planning Design

Curriculum Planning and Design


The term ‘enrichment’ often refers to non-academic components of a school’s provision. Enrichment activities can include:

  • sport, leisure and other physical activities;
  • cultural pursuits such as music, drama and arts;
  • social participation, volunteering and involvement in the community;
  • educational trips; and
  • other ‘extra-curricular’ clubs.

These are widely acknowledged to be an important part of the experiences offered to young people. Curriculum planning needs to take account of enrichment activities and informal learning if it is to maximise the impact on pupil progress and achievement.

For a school’s wider provision to be relevant and engaging, it must involve pupils’ voices as part of its ongoing review and planning. It's also important to recognise that for pupils’ experiences to be purposeful, their participation needs to be sustained; one-off events provide limited opportunities for meaningful engagement.

Arguments for enrichment

The Social Mobility Commission's 2019 report An Unequal Playing Field: Soft Skills and Social Mobility emphasises the benefits of pupil participation in extra-curricular activities such as sport, leisure and the arts. Enrichment measures and pupils' engagement in the wider curriculum can improve their physical and mental health, as well as their attendance. By encouraging positive engagement in school life, this can also affect attainment in qualifications and help reduce dropout rates.

Enrichment activities shouldn’t be seen as optional extras; rather, allocating time to these activities can continue to engage and motivate pupils who might otherwise have difficulty viewing aspects of the curriculum as relevant to their needs. They can also have a positive effect on employability.

Extra-curricular sport and physical education

Current levels of participation in sport vary and depend on many factors, but there are clear benefits to promoting physical activity. As well as helping pupils to stay fit and healthy, taking part in sport can enhance their social interactions and enable them to develop skills such as perseverance and independence. By taking part in regular sport and physical activities beyond their timetabled PE lessons, pupils have opportunities to:

  • meet a broader range of people;
  • interact more with adults and other authority figures;
  • follow instructions; and
  • develop habits of persistence, practice and collaboration.

Community partnerships

A sense of connectedness to a local community can have a positive effect on pupils’ achievement. Sustained, clearly focused partnerships with local youth and community workers can enhance pupils’ aspirations and personal development.

The Department of Education’s extended schools programme provides out-of-hours access to school facilities. This can be an important resource, for example in providing internet access where pupils would not otherwise have it. It also provides opportunities to increase support between schools and parents.

Wider curricular activities have great value in opening up new environments, experiences, role models and relationships. In some cases, they may also involve participation on accredited courses.

Questions for curriculum planners

  • What range and depth of enrichment activities do you currently offer?
  • What is the impact of these activities in your school?
  • Is this range likely to change because of any external or internal pressures?
  • If so, how can you ensure you continue to offer your pupils as many enrichment options as possible?
  • What recent record does the school have in terms of participation in external events, activities, competitions and initiatives?
  • How are staff responsibilities in these areas shared and recognised?