Classrooms without walls Why do we get annoyed and frustrated when children and young people fail to learn lessons we failed to teach them? When I look back at my school days, I can confidently say I haven’t used algebra, never considered Pythagoras…or his theorem, or given Henry VIII’s six wives a second thought. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales didn’t impact my life then and it doesn’t now. That doesn’t mean the subjects I just mocked aren’t important once you learn the basics in life, or if you want to be a mathematician, biologist, or historian. However, for many of us, the exams we sit are not the most valuable lessons we learn. At their best, schools play a vital role in breaking down barriers to learning by providing opportunities for all children – regardless of what their parents earn. Schools enable all children to participate in social and cultural activities, sport, debating, volunteering, and wider community-based provision. However, funding cuts have meant schools offer fewer extracurricular activities, which obviously disproportionately impacts those from working class backgrounds. Funding cuts have meant there are fewer, affordable youth clubs and clubs for children. Children who need this support the most are starved of it, in the same way schools and community groups are starved of funding. At Bath Rugby Foundation we aim to fill this gap. We concentrate on building confidence, developing life skills, and creating pathways to independence and see these as three, crucial, stepping stones. In the 1980s when I was a teenager, vocational routes provided excellent opportunities, and this is still true in other countries. This isn’t just me looking through rose-tinted glasses, we know in the UK children are pushed to pass the required exams, go to university, get a degree, buy their own house and contribute in a pre-specified way to society. We believe more should be done to prepare children for becoming the best person they can be, whether that is through a vocational or academic route. If I could give my teenage self some advice it would be to spend as much time on the life skills as I did on revising for exams. I would spend time on communicating effectively, empathy, building healthy relationships and generally honing my emotional intelligence. It’s no surprise that building self-belief and a sense of belonging improves not only behaviour but improves academic outcomes. Everything is so clear in hindsight, isn’t it? The team at Bath Rugby Foundation is proud that every day we strive to create opportunities that build character, resilience, drive and grit for all of our children.