Rhondda Cynon Taf ‘s E3+ programme, ‘Enrich, Extend, Excite’, targets young people at risk of exclusion, with low self-esteem and poor social skills as well as looked-after children or those who are more able and talented. Schools in the area offer activities such as sports, photography, dancing, journalism and cooking to foster a sense of worth and belonging in the school community. Over the past three years there has been a marked improvement in performance in education.
The E3+ programme, ‘Enrich, Extend, Excite’, works with schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf where approximately 23% of learners of school age are eligible for free school meals.
The programme actively targets groups of young people with particular needs because they are at risk of exclusion, or have low self-esteem and poor social skills. The groups also include looked-after children or those who are more able and talented. The programme works with a range of partners to accept learners who are referred onto the provision from various agencies.
E3+ workers consult with learners to adapt and improve the programme. A wide range of activities is offered including hockey, art, trampolining, street dance, creative crafts, sign language, netball, photography, theatrical make up, ballroom dancing, journalism, kick boxing, skiing, horse riding, golf, quad biking and cooking, as well as room where young people can relax in a safe and caring environment.
Outreach E3+ activities have been developed in isolated and deprived communities within school clusters. The provision is targeted at marginalised communities, groups and young people who are disinclined to attend activities that are located in school premises. The E3+ programme has provided transport, subsidised mid-evening meals, free activities and community-based activities to overcome barriers to participation.
Learners involved in the programme identify the skills, such as team working and communication, that they have learnt through the activities. These activities engage learners and foster a sense of worth and belonging in the school community, and enhance feelings of self-esteem and wellbeing.
The number of learners engaged in E3+ provision has increased as the provision has expanded. In 2007-2008 there were a total of 101,360 contacts with young people engaged in E3+. In 2008-2009 the number of contacts rose to 227,405.
The percentage of 15-year-olds who reach the level 2 threshold including English and mathematics in Rhondda Cynon Taf has improved at a much faster rate than that of Wales as a whole. Over the last three years, this performance indicator has increased by six percentage points.