"I've become much more confident, and I think that's possibly the best part because it's changed me for life."
Shanese, London

Launched in 2011, National Citizen Service (NCS) was created to provide young people with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow in confidence, develop lifelong skills and contribute to their community. Including a mix of residential and non-residential experiences and delivered by highly experienced NCS providers, NCS offers new and exciting opportunities for Year 11 and 12 students to develop a wide variety of skills in non-school settings. Since launch, 65,000 young people have graduated from NCS.

"I think the NCS programme is remarkable really. If I was asked to list the skills that I would like to see my sixth formers develop over those two years at school – beyond, obviously, the academic – I would say that NCS provides them all."
Ged Forster, Head of Sixth Form, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar

About NCS

Open to all 16-and 17-year-olds in England, NCS is easy to join and takes place outside of school time during spring, summer and autumn holidays. With no cost to your school whatsoever, government backing means that it costs participants just £50 or less to take part in NCS with bursaries available on a case by case basis. Support is also provided for young people with additional needs.

Each programme is a two or three-week full-time experience, mixing time away from home learning skills for work and life – skills like budgeting, project planning and PR - with the execution of a social action project in the local community, designed to complement and link to local activities and needs.

Participating in NCS doesn't just offer students the opportunity to grow in confidence and develop invaluable life skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication, but they'll also get to know people they wouldn't normally mix with, working in teams with fellow students from different schools and backgrounds.

"I think NCS has helped me to take in other people's points of views rather than just my own, 'cause I used to be quite opinionated."
Lawrence, Grimsby

Not only do 16- and 17-year-olds have the chance to give something back, but NCS also looks great on CVs and helps with job, college and university applications, building future aspirations. NCS is now recognised by UCAS and taking part is a sought after addition to any CV. What's more, the school benefits too as involvement in NCS offers a concrete way of demonstrating to Ofsted that your school or college is providing for the social development of your students.

NCS explained - what the programme involves

A typical programme will take place during a half term, Easter or summer holidays and could include:

  • Four days residential with group activities such as water-rafting and canoeing
  • Four days residential at a local university campus learning life skills such as first aid, financial management and spending time cooking as part of a team
  • Three days in the local community pitching for funding for a social action project
  • 30 hours of group work across evenings and weekends bringing the project to life, before graduating together

"It was the first time in a long time that I'd been away from home ... from my parents. But I enjoyed the experience of cooking for me and my team."
Terry, London

Getting started

To get involved, simply invite an NCS provider to your school (which you can do via Highly experienced, DBS-checked, delivery staff - from charities and youth and community organisations – will happily deliver a school assembly, before doing all the hard work for you. All NCS providers have appropriate training to work with young people and the programme is quality assured both locally and nationally.

"NCS changes people's lives because it offers them opportunities that are simply not available in school."
Heather McIlroy, Headteacher, Mountbatten School

But don't just take our word for it…

Independent research carried out by Nat Cen in 2013 found that students taking part in NCS felt more confident about getting a job as a result (73%). 92% agreed NCS gave them a chance to develop skills that would be useful in the future; and, one year on, those who took part showed a 12 percentage point decrease in anxiety levels compared to the control group.

In 2012 alone, participants completed over 460,000 hours of social action for the benefit of local communities.

"I simply don't know another project available for 16 and 17 year olds that can make that sort of impact."
Dr Joe Spence, Master, Dulwich College

"I don't believe there's a downside. In all honesty I think young people could potentially be disadvantaged if they haven't done NCS."
Phil Ryland, Headteacher, Lincolnshire