Study shows significant increases in resilience and wellbeing for Skills4Life participants.
Earlier this year, the Labour Party announced proposals committed to improving young people’s speaking skills, with Keir Starmer stating:
It’s not just a skill for learning, it’s also a skill for life. Not just for the workplace, also for working out who you are – for overcoming shyness or disaffection, anxiety or doubt – or even just for opening up more to our friends and family.
There is a growing focus on life and career skills development that better equip young people for success in a digital world of constant change. This more holistic approach to education of our future generations is increasingly centred around development of what are known as the Four C’s of 21st Century skills – creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Also, enabling young people to tune in to personal attributes such as curiosity, emotional intelligence, resilience, imagination, broad-mindedness and lateral thinking.
Enhancing traditional classroom cognitive learning and knowledge acquisition, well-constructed Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) Programmes provide environments that are conducive to teamwork and self-expression. These programmes are set up for unlocking individual’s potential for better verbal communication with peers and group leaders, sharper decision-making, and greater aspiration for personal goals.
Shaping the future of education further, the Government-funded National Citizen Service Skills4Life programme is an OAE Residential Programme for 16-17 years olds, who may be experiencing challenges to their mental health and well-being, exacerbated by the uncertainty of a post-Covid world.
The Winter 2022/2023 and Summer 2023 Skills4Life Programmes have been designed, delivered and evaluated by evidence-based contemporary adventure education providers: Inspiring Learning and Sheffield Hallam University.
With the overall programme aiming to hone the Four C’s 21st Century skills, the ‘Your Voice Matters’ module focuses on helping young people to define a stronger self-identity through increased self-confidence. This is achieved by participation in debate and dialogue on issues that matter to them and their local communities.
Honing abilities to perceive, present and listen to opinions contributes to the positive adaptive functioning of young people’s resilience and higher levels of psychological wellbeing. The course also aims to use the outdoors as a vehicle for learning and personal development, with essential life skills at the core of the programme, alongside confidence in trusting oneself and others, and building resilience through exposure to failures.
An evaluation of the Winter 2002/2023 Skills4Life programme revealed the impact of the programme with significant increases in resilience, 36%, and psychological well-being, 23%.
Participants significantly increased their resilience and psychological well-being, by 36% and 23% respectively on completion of the programme.
The evaluation incorporated baseline (pre-programme), post-programme, and one month follow-up, and utilised a combination of quantitative measures and qualitative data capture.
Dr John Allan, Inspiring Learning; Dr Adele Doran, Sheffield Hallam University; Dr Ruan Jones, Leeds Beckett University; and Sarah Farrell, Inspiring Learning
Published: June 2023