What is the NCS Programme?

In General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

For young people in the UK, there are a wide range of programmes and opportunities that allow them to develop and learn beyond the classroom. You might have heard of the likes of the Duke of Edinburgh award, which is arguably the most common, but there is a whole range of other programmes out there. One of these is the NCS programme.

Now what you might be wondering is what exactly this is and even just what it stands for. Let’s dive right into it.

In short, NCS is an organisation that runs a range of different youth programmes. These can be away from home experiences, community experiences or online experiences. All of these are designed to bring young people together and to empower them. As well as to allow them to develop a range of transferable skills.

Continue reading to get more insight into what the NCS programme is, including who the programme is for, what is involved in the programme and other important questions that you might have about it.

What is NCS?

NCS is an organisation that was set up in 2009 as a not-for-profit before officially becoming a Royal Charter body in 2019. Due to this, it is now supported by the government from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The NCS organisation runs a range of youth programmes in the UK. These run in the school holidays in both summer and autumn and give young people an opportunity to experience a range of different opportunities.

NCS is an acronym, which stands for National Citizen Service. These programmes are designed to bring groups of different young people together and to empower them.

This is especially by allowing them to develop in independence and to grow their confidence as well as other important skills. You can learn more about what NCS is as both the programme and the organisation by checking out this page on the government website.

What do you do on NCS programme 2024?

Since April 2023, the NCS programme has changed. Since then, it’s no longer 1 programme that allows young people to gain a variety of experiences and develop a range of different skills.

Instead, it has been split up into 3 different types of programmes. These are much more focused, allowing young people to grow in specific areas more easily.

The 3 types of programmes are away from home experiences, local community experiences and online experiences. Look at the following sections to learn more about these types of programmes.

Check out this page on the government website for more on when the NCS programme changed.

What are the NCS away from home experiences 2024?

The NCS away from home programmes each last 5 days and are all meant to act as a masterclass of sorts in their specific area. There are 3 experiences within this bracket of away from home. These are “Boss It”, “Change It” and “Live It”.

Look at the following list to learn more about how each of these experiences differ from each other.

  • “Boss It”- The Boss It away from home experience is focused on business. On this experience, young people will take part in active challenges and learn more about the world of business and important skills.
  • “Change It”– The Change It away from home experience focuses on social action. On this experience, young people have the opportunity to make a positive impact and to undertake a social action project.
  • “Live It”- The Live It away from home experience is much more similar to the typical residential away from home experience, with young people getting the chance to take part in a range of activities. However, you’ll also learn survival skills and be able to get out of your comfort zone.

You can learn more about these different away from home experiences, by checking out this page of the NCS website.

What are the NCS community experiences 2024?

The NCS community experiences take place in your local area. They allow young people to get involved in activities in their community or to make a positive impact of some kind.

Unlike the away from home experiences, these don’t have a set time frame and could be anything from one-off events to regular ones. At time of writing (November 2023), this programme hasn’t quite launched yet. However, it is set to be launched by the end of 2023.

What are the NCS online experiences 2024?

The NCS online experiences allow young people to once again develop and gain new skills but from their own homes. These experiences are varied and the kind you do may depend on different factors.

However, they can range from on-demand courses that you can do at your own pace to live, virtual sessions with other young people and teachers or mentors.

Once again, these programmes haven’t yet been launched at the time of writing (November 2023). However, if it’s something you’re interested in, you can leave your details with NCS so that they contact you when these experiences are launched.

You can learn more about this by checking out this page of the NCS website.

What was the old NCS programme?

If you’ve previously heard about the NCS programme, it’s likely that you are more familiar with its old set up. Before April 2023, the NCS programme was just a single programme, rather than there being different types and even different experiences within these.

Within this single programme, there would be 5 phases with the bulk of the programme happening over the course of 3 weeks. These would take place with groups of 15 to 25 young people.

The first week would be an activity-based residential trip. Young people would get to challenge themselves in outdoor activities and would start getting to know the others in their group.

After a couple of days at home, the second week would begin. Unlike the first week, this would be in your local area, although it would still be a residential trip. This week would be focused on your local community and skills development.

The final week would be done from home. In this week, young people would continue to focus on the local community and would design a social action project. After this, participants would need to spend at least 30 hours in volunteering or carrying out social action in their local community.

You can learn more about this by checking out this guide from the government website. You can also check out this article from Bright Knowledge, which has some further details.

Who can do NCS?

As previously mentioned, NCS is a programme for young people. More specifically, it is designed for 16- and 17-year-olds. However, as long as you will be 16 by the end of August in the year that you do it, you’re can still take part if you’re 15.

Also, certain young people who are between the ages of 18 and 24 will still be eligible to do NCS. The criteria that they will need to meet is as follows.

  • You have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
  • You are in the care of your local authority.
  • You are receiving statutory support.

Other than age, another important factor that should be considered is where you live. Unlike other programmes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award, the NCS programme isn’t available across the UK.

The NCS programme is only available in England and Northern Ireland. This means that young people from Wales and from Scotland are unable to take part in this programme.

You can learn more about this by checking out this page of the NCS website.

How much does NCS cost?

As of April 2023, the NCS programme is split up into 3 separate components. In turn, these each have separate costs involved. 

As previously established, there are 3 different kinds of home away experiences. As they each last for the same length of time and are all designed in similar ways, these are all the same price.

As of November 2023, these are £95 each. This pays for everything on this trip from your transport to your meals.

Both the community experiences and the online experiences are free.

This means that the maximum you will have to pay is £95 as you can only complete 1 away from home experience, although you can do more of the community and online experiences.

Does NCS look good on CV?

The NCS programme is specifically designed to enable young people to build up and develop a variety of transferable skills and to build their confidence too. From independence to communication and even leadership skills, completing the NCS programme allows young people to have a range of skills to put down on their CVs.

Moreover, in NCS’s own words “employers and universities love NCS”. This is due to the fact that NCS counts as an extracurricular activity and involves lots of volunteering and social action and it also forces young people out of their comfort zones.

As these are both strong qualities that employers are looking for, yes, NCS does look good on your CV.

You can learn more about what NCS has to say about putting this experience onto your CV by checking out this page on their website.

*The information above is partially sourced from this page on the NCS website.

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