A new study has found that poorer pupils on free school meals are less likely to take part in extra-curricular activities
The research by the Scout Association also suggests that it is those students who are almost twice as likely to see school as “a waste of time”.
The Learning By Doing report is calling on the Government to work to ensure all children, both fee-paying and state school pupils, have the same opportunities for sports, outdoor activities and volunteering outside of school.
Jonathan Birdwell, co-author of the report said: “The enormous benefits provided by ‘non-formal learning’ or extra-curricular activities are now well proven, and this report demonstrates just how highly they are valued by teachers and students alike.
“But it also unearths worrying inequalities in the opportunities that are available for children to participate in them.
“While schools are doing their best to close the gap, we cannot ignore the fact that children on free school meals are conscious they are receiving fewer opportunities, and that teachers feel too constrained by timetabling commitments to deliver them.”
Half of all students questioned also said that they would like extra-curricular activities to count towards their GSCEs or A-levels.
Almost two thirds of teachers said they would like to see non-formal learning being added to the curriculum.
But 90 per cent blamed lack of time for being unable to provide the extra-curricular activities.
Hannah Kentish, UK youth commissioner at the Scout Association, said: “This report shows just how much both teachers and young people alike value the opportunities that non-formal learning can provide.
“It also highlights that these opportunities are not equally shared across all locations and that much more can be done to embed non-formal learning as a permanent fixture in the school system.
“If we are serious about giving all young people the very best chance to become active citizens, we need to do more of this work. Scouting has so much experience in using adventure-based activities to help young people gain confidence, empathy and resilience and we are ready to help partner with schools to make this important ambition a reality.”
The research comes as another survey reveals school leavers in the UK are the worst in Europe for ‘essential skills’ needed to complete entry-level jobs in business.
A survey by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), says companies are taking months to fill junior roles such as apprenticeships and school leaver programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds .
It said four out of the ten companies polled reported many teenagers struggle with basic literacy and numeracy.
The professional body surveyed more than 1,000 of its members in the UK and 320 across Europe.