Education and Enrichment

In partnership with UK Youth


29th April 2024

Read the full report here

The Centre for Education and Youth are delighted to launch our latest report Education and Enrichment: How partnerships between the education and youth sectors can improve the accessibility, quality and impact of enrichment activities. 

This exciting and unique research, supported by the National Citizens Service Trust (NCST) and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) provides some of the first evidence-based guidance on how the education and youth sectors can work together effectively to give all young people enrichment opportunities  – and the government policies that need to be in place to support this work.

What is enrichment and who has access to it?

Enrichment  activities include sports, arts clubs, volunteering, social action and adventures away from home. These activities are a source of joy and meaning to countless young people in England. But as we summarised in our ‘Enriching Education Recovery’ report, these activities  are also opportunities for young people to develop essential skills, increase their engagement with education and improve their mental and physical health, and they also offer protection from participation in violence.

Nevertheless, there has been a decline in young people’s access to enrichment opportunities in school over the past decade. This has affected disadvantaged young people more than their more advantaged peers, leading to a widening ‘enrichment gap’ between rich and poor. This disparity in access to and engagement with enrichment has continued post-pandemic.

What are the barriers to offering enrichment to young people?

Schools and youth sector organisations work hard to provide enrichment activities to young people.
However, they face several challenges in coordinating and collaborating on this. Schools may lack the capacity to deliver high-quality enrichment within their current staffing levels. They may also struggle to stay up to date with the enrichment offer of local organisations, relying on word of mouth to form new partnerships. Similarly, youth enrichment organisations can struggle to reach young people who would benefit from their programmes. While they may work with schools to engage young people, they may equally struggle to initiate and build relationships with local schools.

The present research

In light of these challenges, NCST and DofE commissioned CfEY and UK Youth to investigate how the education sector works effectively with the youth sector (as well as other sectors) to improve young people’s access to high quality enrichment.

To do this, we conducted a literature review of current available evidence on effective cross-sectoral and multi-agency working in the education and youth sectors. We also produced 11 case studies of effective cross-sector enrichment partnerships. These case studies cover mainstream schools, special schools and Youth Offender Institutes across the UK as well as a wide range of enrichment activities including sports, arts, youth work and work experience.

Key findings

Based on our research we set out five key conditions for effective enrichment partnerships between the education and youth sectors for effective partnership working:

  1. Local context – One of the effective ways that cross-sector partnerships in education are created, managed and sustained is through the support of brokerage organisations. These brokerage organisations are external to both the education and youth sector partner, but are trusted by both and provide a wide range of quality assurance and support for an effective partnership. Examples of brokerage organisations in our case studies include community hubs, local cultural education partnerships (LCEPs) and Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) central teams.
  2. People – In most of the partnerships we studied, there was no dedicated staffing on the education side for day to day oversight and management of the partnership. As a consequence, a lot of the partnership management activity was absorbed by the youth sector partner, whose expertise in this area they often use to upskill partners from the education side. Where there was dedicated partnership management on the education side, this had  a lot of benefits including better tailoring of the enrichment offer to the needs of young people. 
  3. Ways of working – Strong organisational and philosophical alignment is key to effective partnerships. Organisational alignment includes an agreed, and closely monitored, outcome for young people participating in the enrichment activity supported by the partnership, as well as aligned systems and processes such as safeguarding and behaviour management. Philosophical alignment included shared values, pedagogies and approaches to working with young people. 
  4. Financial and material resources –  Most of the partnership case studies we examined were funded primarily by the core budget and Pupil Premium of the education setting partner. This has advantages, such as reducing the fundraising workload of the partnership by using an established funding mechanism. However, there are of course challenges in the current funding climate for schools. Some partnerships drew on economies of scale and resource sharing to introduce efficiencies, using MAT central ream resources or the procurement power of a brokerage organisation to, for example, access services such as coach travel at a discounted rate.
  5. Power and equity – The best partnership work to create a sense of co-ownership over the enrichment activity between the partners. Meanwhile, some partnerships do great stuff in terms of developing co-production, such as having steering groups composed of a wide range of stakeholders. However, when it comes to youth voice and using it tailor enrichment activities, there is a lot of space for the youth sector to use its expertise in youth voice to provide guidance to the education sector in its application to help better shape enrichment offers to young people.


Based on our findings, our research sets out a range of recommendations for practitioners and policymakers on how to create, support and grow effective cross-sector partnerships for enrichment. Our four key policy recommendations are:

  • A framework for effective enrichment provision – This would be a new standardised and authoritative overview of best practice and guidance for enrichment provision across the education and youth sector, including strategies for integrating youth voice into enrichment design and guidance on effective monitoring and evaluation of enrichment programmes. 
  • An updated approach to education sector inspections  – This should includes guidance around and greater prioritisation of the quality of enrichment and partnerships with the youth sector. Changes to Ofsted’s Inspection Framework could have a system-wide effect of creating more incentives for schools to prioritise enrichment and enrichment partnerships, while our other recommendations create the support and resources for schools to pursue that expansion of their enrichment partnership work.
  • Teacher workforce training focused on effective partnership working – This could include updates to the core content framework for Initial Teacher Training or new NPQs to reflect the shape of demands placed on teachers as part of the current cross-sector working of education settings.
  • An enrichment premium – This could create the long-term funding stream needed for improving disadvantaged young people’s access to enrichment. If policymakers want to increase funding for young people’s access to enrichment, an efficient and effective way could be through an uplift to the Pupil Premium earmarked for expenditure on enrichment.

Next steps

CfEY are passionate about producing more research and action that supports all young people, whatever their background, to access the enrichment opportunities they are entitled to. Please do get in touch with lead author on this present research, Baz Ramaiah, if you would like to discuss ways of collaborating in pursuit of that goal.