27 June 2022
In 2018, 12 students ranging in abilities and ages took part in the NCS programme at Westfield Sixth Form with Catch22. All the students already knew each other, although some had recently moved up to the Sixth Form and were still getting used to the responsibilities and expectations. The NCS programme delivered to the students by Catch22 was designed to fit around the school curriculum and the qualifications some of the students were working towards.
Activities were chosen on the basis that they could be adapted to suit every student’s needs and abilities to ensure the highest level of involvement across the group. The programme had much of the same structure of a mainstream Autumn NCS programme, with a three-night residential at an outdoor activity centre, three days of personal development activities based locally, and 30 hours of social action in the local community. For these young people, the days were spread out across four weeks so the young people had time to recuperate and complete some of their normal schooling.
Planning the project
Pre-programme meetings were held with the young people’s class teacher and teaching assistants to ensure all activities were suited to them. To help with their transition into the programme, Catch22 staff visited the school to meet the students and discuss what would be happening on NCS and what it could help them achieve. At a parent’s evening prior to the programme starting, parents were also given the opportunity to find out what being a part of NCS can offer and how it can improve young people’s confidence and life skills.
PGL Liddington was chosen as the site for the away residential due to its close proximity to the school and for the availability of activities that would be accessible to all. The young people took part in daytime activities such as rock climbing, team building, crate challenge and trapeze. In the evening, they had an extensive range of activities to keep them entertained such as quizzes, talent shows and movie nights. This variety of activities meant that there was something that could challenge each young person to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
Even meal times proposed a challenge for some as they had to choose and order their own food, but by the end of the stay they were all doing this independently. Most even said the food was better than the school lunches they were used to!
For the second part of the programme, the three days were themed around building employability and independence skills, personal development and getting to know your community.
The young people had the chance to take part in cookery, animal care and woodwork workshops at Avenbury Care Farm, as well as completing a pottery workshop and designing a plate around their favourite things. They also worked on their communication skills by writing lists and letters and getting out in the community to complete the paperclip challenge: the young people communicated with local businesses to trade up from a paperclip and see what they could get in return.
These opportunities allowed the young people to build on skills they already had and to learn new ones. To improve their leadership skills, the older students took charge of small teams to work on the challenges set, and were encouraged to use their knowledge to help out the younger students during these tasks.
Social action is a very important aspect of NCS and, for Westfield School, this meant concentrating on giving back to the services and local community that had provided support for them over the years.
The young people completed their 30 hours of social action by volunteering on community projects and rejuvenating local areas through painting fences, clearing overgrown areas and planting flowers and plants for local projects. They also fundraised and hosted a talent showcase for their whole school in aid of Children in Need.
Throughout their NCS experience, all the young people had the chance to work on and develop skills that would help them to become independent adults. As a result, they grew in confidence during the programme and formed new friendships with their classmates. As is a NCS tradition, a celebration event was held at the end of the programme. The young people chose to go bowling, invite along their families and showcased to them the skills they had developed and the activities they had taken part in over the four weeks.
Find out more:
- Read about how Catch22 made NCS accessible to two brothers who are wheelchair users
- Learn more about NCS
- Find more about Catch22’s services